Questions to Ask
Webpage Evaluation - Questions to Ask
1. Who wrote this? (Authorship)
a. Who wrote the page, and can you contact that person?
i. Email address – what comes after the @ sign?
ii. Physical address – real or PO box?
iii. Phone number – landline or cell phone?
b. Is this person qualified to write this document?
i. What credentials are listed for the author(s)?
ii. Can you verify the author’s credentials?
iii. Is there a reference list?
iv. Is the reference list cited correctly?
v. Is the information clearly presented in a professional-looking way?
vi. Are there mistakes in spelling or word usage?
c. Is there an institution or organization responsible for the content?
i. Where is the document hosted? (Check URL)
1. .gov = Governmental agency
2. .net = Internet service provider
3. .com = Commercial site
4. .edu = Higher education
5. .mil = Military site
6. .org = Organization
7. .info = Information site (UNREGULATED)
8. ~ = Personal site
a. Remember: There is no domain owner or publisher vouching for the information on personal pages.
ii. Have you heard of this entity before?
iii. Does it correspond to the name of the site?
iv. Does the institution have credentials separate from the author?
v. Is the author separate from the webmaster?
2. Why? (Purpose)
a. What is the purpose of the document?
i. Who is paying for the website? (whois.net)
ii. Who is making money off of this document? How?
iii. Is the content biased?
iv. Is there advertising on the pages or links to merchant sites?
v. How detailed is the information?
vi. What opinions are expressed by the author?
vii. Is this site a hoax, satire, or on a mission against something?
3. Does anybody care? (Readership/Currency)
a. When was the page produced/last updated?
i. Check for dead/irrelevant links.
ii. Check for a “last updated” stamp.
iii. CAUTION: Undated statistical information is no better than anonymous information. Don’t use it without confirmation from a recognized reputable source.
iv. Ask – is the information on this page outdated in any way?
v. Evaluate the links – do they complement the document’s theme?
vi. Is the content appropriate to your assignment?
vii. Look for copyright information and permissions to reproduce.
viii. How long has this page been online? How has it changed? (www.archive.org)
b. Who is reading this page?
i. What kind of traffic does the page have? (alexa.com)
ii. How many external pages are linking to this one?
iii. Is this page being tagged?
iv. Google the author’s name and/or the name of the site.
4. Most importantly …. Always be skeptical.
The Internet is the ultimate vehicle of free speech. If something about the page doesn’t “feel” right, go find a more reliable source.
a. Know the difference between a “web page” and a page found on the web. (Google “flirting” then Google Scholar “flirting”. See the difference?)
i. Was this page originally intended for publication on the web or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where?
b. Subject all information found on the internet to the same critical standards you would any other source—external verification.
Would you like more information or extra practice? Try this: