Information is one of the most valuable resources in today’s times. It gives you knowledge and power. There is so much information available at everyone’s fingertips these days that it is difficult to distinguish between high and low quality and reliable content. There are various checks you can do, for online sources especially, to determine how reliable and valuable some information is. Anyone can create online content these days so it’s important to determine who is writing the piece and why they are writing it. There are some easy to spot factors that can also show you how reliable a piece of internet information is. Take a look at a good example of a high-quality content website here, this website is called Review Critic and it looks at many of the natural products that are available for purchase online. See if it fits in with the criteria this article is about to mention.
Check Who Wrote It
One of the best signs of quality information is that the web service provides information about the author. A good quality site will provide the user with the author’s name with a link to similar articles that they have written so that you can compare to see if the articles they write are consistent. In certain cases, especially on academic websites, the author’s qualifications may be provided. You might also find this information in the “about” section of the website.
You should be wary of information that is not related to one particular author or a group because it does potentially suggest that the website doesn’t take responsibility for how the information is used. This means that the information cannot be traced back to the person who provided it. Think about if you would accept a package left on your doorstep that had no indication as to who it was from. It’s the same idea with information on the internet.
Is The Purpose Clear?
The most reliable sources of websites are the ones that make their purpose explicitly clear to you from the beginning. This is also something that can be found in the “about” section of the website. Check to see if the content of the website relates strongly to the purpose or if it diverges a lot. Websites that do not share their purpose may have hidden agendas behind the information they are providing and those which do not match their purpose are not certain of the reliability of the information.
Think about who the information is intended for as well. This is known as the target audience. Depending on the kind of information you’re reading it can be more beneficial to have a wider and general target audience to show less bias or a smaller and specific target audience to demonstrate the purpose.
Check The Date
More often than not, many websites don’t actually provide the date of when the information was published. It is important to know when the information was published online because the content discussed may be outdated and newer information may be more relevant. This doesn’t mean that old information should be discarded, especially if it is about a slowly progressing field, but it does mean that you might consider looking for more recent information.
The date also gives an indication of how actively the site is refreshed and managed. Generally, a site that is moderated more often is more reliable because there are a group of people constantly checking and rechecking the information to make sure that it is relevant and up-to-date.
One of the most subtle things to notice is how consistent the website is. If the web pages within a website have very different formats, then you need to ask yourself how collaborative the team is. This could indicate how much the moderators care about some information on their website relating to other information on the same website. The consistency of information is also important because it shows that it is thoroughly checked and considered before being published.
A usually not-so-great indication is if many of the links lead to dead ends. This shows that the website is not managed as often as it should be, and that it uses unreliable sources. This is especially important if the site is quoting references because there needs to be a way to back up what they’re saying if they are referencing.