Evaluating Online Content

The Internet can be a source of valuable information without having to spend a great deal of money. But it’s also littered with inaccurate, misleading and sometimes downright false information.

How do you know what you’re getting is reliable? Here are some of the ways you can evaluate the integrity of online content you find.

  • What is the source? Your source should be a reputable company or other expert within your industry. If you’re not familiar with the source, ask colleagues about it or conduct a search on the web to see if newspapers, magazines or other information providers have cited the source.
  • How current is the information? Some sources are notorious for lettering outdated information linger in a mythical state of eternal youth. Try and locate when the information was published. If there’s no date, e-mail the webmaster to ask about the publishing date.
  • How was the information derived? If the information is based on research, look for a description of the methodology used, including how the information was obtained, how the sample was drawn and how large the sample is.
  • Have other reputable sources cited the information and what did they say about it? You can check if others have cited the source in online web content by doing a Google search with quotation marks around the title.
  • Is contact information provided? If so, you can contact the author directly to ask about the method they used to obtain the information and its currency?

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