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Ever Changing Internet – Same Evaluation

I was reviewing articles I had written years back and came upon one that I had written for Midwest Paralegal’s KeyNotes back in early 2000. Yep, over eight years ago. It was about evaluating web sites – my favorite topic. I found it interesting that the Internet has changed so much over the last eight years, but the majority of my article still held true.

Over the last decade, we have seen an amazing growth in information found on the Internet. Web 2.0 technologies have made the Internet a more social and collaborative tool. And, evaluation is still very important.

My original article listed nine factors to consider when evaluating a website. Funny how we know we SHOULD evaluate a page, but often take no time to look at the source. Many of us use information provided by the government, academia, and established organizations. Sources we consider reliable. However, there are still many sites out there worth taking a second look at. Here is a portion of that article from so long ago (in Internet time). I think these are still questions that we should be asking.

1. Author
Is the author CLEARLY identified?
What is the author’s professional affiliation?
Is the author recognized as an authority on this subject?
Does the site provide information on how to contact the author?
What is the URL extension (.com, .gov, .org, .edu)

2. Scope
What is the intent of the site?
Is the coverage broad or narrow?
Is new information introduced?
Is research data provided, along with definitions?

3. Accuracy
Are there any errors or omissions?
Any misleading information?
Is the information of a consistent quality?

4. Links
How useful are the links?
Are they clearly marked?
Do you find “dead” links?
Are the links appropriate?

5. Censorship
Is it a commercial site?
Are all sides presented?
Are biases identified?

6. Cost
Does the site require payment for full access?
Are prices clearly identified?
Does the site require a log-on?

7. Documentation
What is the audience?
When was the document created?
When was it last updated?
How often is the site maintained?

A great reference that I used for the original article was Betsy Richmond’s 10 C’s for Evaluating Internet Resources (PDF). This link takes you to the most updated version.

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