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How to Tell if the Information on a Website is Accurate

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Internet Family Fun Home > What You Want to Know About... > How to Tell if the Information on a Website is Accurate

Truth or Junk?

When surfing for information about a particular topic, you can usually find a lot of different Websites. The problem is, knowing if the information is accurate. Anyone with a little knowledge about the Internet, can post a Website, so anyone could put inaccurate information. So how do you tell if the information that you found is credible? There are a few steps to determining the quality of a Website.

Here is what to look for:

  1. Does the author say who he is and offer a way to contact him/her?
    If the author doesn't give you a way to contact them or take credit for his work, you should be suspicious.
  2. Does the author state the purpose of the information?
    There should be a stated purpose of giving the information. This may not be clearly spelled out, but there should be a reason why someone is spending the time to post the information.
  3. Does all of information, seem accurate?
    If somewhere in the information there is an easily spotted inaccuracy, don't trust the balance of the information. For instance, if the part of the information says, "Columbus sailed to the New World in 1762" chances are the rest of the information is not accurate.
  4. Does the appearance of the site, match the type of information it is offering?
    Webmasters love to get creative with the appearance of the site, but the tone of the site should match the tone of the content. For instance, if the content of the site is 18th century history and the graphics of the site is cartoon characters, I would question the accuracy of the information.
  5. Does the author give reference to the source of his information or his background?
    A credible site would offer references to where they got their information on the topic. A credible author would also state his background or education on the subject.
  6. Are there an unusual amount of typos and misspellings?
    A few typos and misspellings may be acceptable, but if the information is filled with them, you have to question the accuracy of the information. Credible authors take pride in their work.
  7. Does the author give you resources to learn more?
    The author should give you places to where you can learn more on the given topic. It may be other Websites or books that you can read to acquire more knowledge. Of course, if the topic has been previously unexplored, then there might not be any other sources of information. Remember a credible author's purpose is to educate you on the subject.
  8. Is it published by a reliable company?
    Is the information is published on a well recognized company's Website, it should be credible. Companies such as, Yahoo, and Zdnet have too much at stake, to publish inaccurate information. Information published on Geocities or Xoom, may be accurate also, but you would want to examine the quality a little more closely.
  9. Is there a publishing date?
    This is especially important if the information is date sensitive. If there is not a publishing date, you have no idea how old the info is and there may have been recent discoveries about the subject.
  10. Does the information reasonably compare to other sources?
    If you have found one site that says Columbus sailed in 1762 and another that says 1492, you might want to find a third source to confirm the actual date.
  11. Check to see who owns the Website.
    Determine who owns the domain ( by finding contact information for a Web Site when it isn't listed.

With the wealth of information available on the Net that can be published by anyone, you must carefully evaluate the content, before believing the information. Taking a few minutes to exam the information's credibility could save you time and embarrassment of believing wrong information.

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