Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer simply retrieve and display websites, and search engines simply list websites containing terms that you designate. They do not evaluate the accuracy or value of the websites, and there are sites that contain inaccurate, out-of-date, and even false information. You are responsible for determining the usefulness of a website. The following guidelines will help you evaluate Web resources.
There are many different types of information available online, but most webpages can be categorized into one (or more) of five basic types:
Business or marketing pages are usually published by companies or other commercial enterprises.
Their primary purpose is to promote the company or to sell products. Business and marketing pages often include a mixture of information, entertainment, and advertisements.
For U.S. based sites, the URL or web address usually ends in .com
For international-based sites, the URL or web address often ends in .co.** (** is the two letter country extension).
News and current events sites provide extremely up-to-date information, and include news centers, newspapers, and other periodicals.
Some news and current events sites may only provide a limited amount of free information–a few days worth to a few weeks worth– and/or may require registration.
Informational pages provide factual information on a particular topic.
Informational pages are often provided by government (.gov) or educational institutions (.edu) and may include reference materials, research reports, databases, calendars of events, statistics, etc.
Advocacy pages are usually published by an organization with the purpose of influencing public opinion.
The URL address of an advocacy webpage frequently ends in .org (organization).
Personal pages are published by individuals who may or may not be part of a larger group or organization.
Personal webpages may include almost any type of information including biographical data, information on work, hobbies, etc.
Examples include individual or family home pages, individual faculty or students at a university, and member pages from an Internet Service Provider.
For U.S. based sites, the URL often includes a tilde (~).
Use the "CRAAP" Test criteria to evaluate the information that you find in print and on websites! If the information doesn't pass the test, you probably should not use it as a source.