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Messing Library: Website Evaluation

MICDS Middle School Library Website

Website Evaluation Toolbar

Use this online toolbar to help you evaluate websites. 

Trash or Treasure?

Anyone can publish anything on the Internet, and there is a huge amount of information to choose from.  How do you know whether the information is reliable, authentic, accurate, and worth your time? 

Ask yourself, "What’s in the CARDS?"

Credibility of the author
Authority of the publisher
Reliability of the information
Date of publication
Sources of information

Credibility of the author

  • Who is the author?
    • (The author is NOT the webmaster)
  • Is the author truly an expert?
    • Is the author qualified to write about this subject?
    • What are the author’s credentials?
    • Is contact information for the author available?
  • Look at the “About Us” section of the web page
    • Look for information about the author’s education, experience, and publications.
  •  “Google” the author.  What do you find?
  •  What is the purpose of the web page and why was it produced?
  •  Look for any bias or agenda the author might have or be promoting.

Authority of the publisher

  • Understand how to read the domain of the site: .org, .com, .edu, .gov, .net and others.
    • What does the URL extension tell you?
  • What does the base information of the URL tell you?
  • Look for the publisher.
  • What can you learn from the “About Us” section?
  • Is the publisher separate from the webmaster?
  • “Google” the publisher.
  • Look for any publisher bias.

Reliability of the information

  • Why was the site or page written?
    • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is there a balance of information?
    • What opinions are shown by the author?
  • How detailed is the information?
    • Look at the page to see if there are in-depth facts and look to see if are they distorted.
  • Who else links to this page?
    • In Google type - link: URL.
  • Look at the advertising.
    • Does it influence the content of the site?
    • Is the advertising clearly noted?

 Date

  • When was the page published or updated?
  • Look for copyright dates and updates.
  • Is the content outdated?
  • Check to see if graphs or charts are dated or when other data was gathered.
  • Are there broken links on the page?

Sources of Information

  • Look at the links on the page.
    • Do they compliment the topic?
  • Is there a balance of text and images?
    • Look at the amount of space given to words and pictures.
  • Evaluate the text.
    • Can you tell the difference between opinion and facts?
  • Look to see if the information presented is correctly cited.

Still confused?

Check out The Cornell University Library for a check list of questions that can help you decide.

Can someone please just tell me if this is a reputable site?

Want a website that ranks the credibility of other web pages?  Type in your website URL and see how the DMOZ people classify it.  Is it trash or is it treasure?  Check it out. 

Where can I find out who the publisher is?

Find the copyright symbol.  (Usually it is at the very bottom of the web page).

After the copyright symbol is the copyright date.  The publisher's name is after the date. 

See this example:  © 1996–2013 American Library Association.

In this case the publisher is the American Library Association.