How do I evaluate a website?
There are several ways to evaluate a website for accuracy and timeliness:
- Look at the Domain Name (internet address suffix) to see who posts the information. Companies, organizations, universities, government agencies, and individuals all have websites. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (www.icann.org) is the non-profit organization that manages the domain name system.
- com is the domain name for a company website. Commercial websites advertise and sell products and services. Click www.amazon.com to see an example of a commercial website.
- org is the domain name for a non-profit organization website. Non-profit organizations or foundations promote their institution and provide information. Click www.lwv.org to see an example of a non-profit organization website.
- edu is the domain name for a college or university website. Colleges and universities promote their institutions and provide information to students, prospective students, faculty, and alumni. Click www.kent.edu to see an example of a university website.
- gov is the domain name for a government agency website. Every United States government agency has a website. The government is saving printing, mailing, and updating costs by posting forms, documents, and regulations on the internet. Click www.senate.gov to see an example of a government website.
Government websites may also be recognized by a geographic description, such as oh.us.
Every state has a website. The state of Ohio website is www.state.oh.us. oh is the two-digit abbreviation for Ohio. us is the two-digit abbreviation for United States. You can find the website of any other state by substituting the state's two-digit abbreviation for oh. Countries also have geographic two-digit abbreviations. To read more about them click www.norid.no/domenenavnbaser/domreg.html. To view an example of a website from outside the United States go to http://www.chateauvillandry.fr/
- mil is the domain name for United States military websites. Every branch of the military has a website. Click www.navy.mil to see an example of a military website.
Other domain names, such as net, museum, info, and biz are also available. To see an example, click www.stricklands.info. To read about these and other new domain names go to www.internic.net/faqs/domain-names.html
- Look at the website to learn about who is posting the information. A good website will tell you about the company, organization, or person sponsoring the website.
- Look for credentials. How long has the company been in business? What is the background and education of the individual promoting the information?
- Look for contact information (phone, address, and/or e-mail address). This allows you to verify information or correspond with the company or individual. The Zappos website at www.zappos.com provides a company history and contact information on its website.
- Look to see if the website is supported by an institution. In general, government and non-profit organization websites provide information, rather than sell a product. Medline Plus at www.medlineplus.gov is an example of an authoritative website with no advertisements or product endorsements.
- Look to see when the website was last updated. A good website will indicate when it was last updated. Recent updates are especially important for medical, health, and scientific information, as well as news. CNN at www.cnn.com is a recently updated website.
Practice what you've learned!
Practice what you've learned by evaluating the city of Stow's website at www.stow.oh.us