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Website evaluation is a skill which everyone must learn. In this day and age, when people from all walks of life are familiar with the digital media, the ability to evaluate the information posted on a website and knowing whether it can be trusted or not is very important. The accuracy as well as the authenticity of the information must be known.

Nowadays, search engines are becoming increasingly popular as a source for information. But not all websites listed by a search engine provide authentic information. It is best to evaluate the websites listed by the search engine before using the information. In order to evaluate a website, five mail criteria must be taken into consideration. They are Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage.

• Accuracy: Check if the information is from a reliable source. For example, if the source is listed as the Washington Post, make sure that the information originated from the Washington Post. Also, one must verify whether the author who wrote the article has given any contact details, such as an e-mail id.

• Authority: The evaluator must check whether the credentials of the author have been listed, such as his/her qualifications, any previous articles published and whether the author is an expert on the material published. The website must also list the name of the organization or institution which has published the information, such as the World Health Organization or University of Minnesota. If such details are available, it will further validate the information.

• Objectivity: The evaluator must find out whether the information contained in the website is biased or impartial. If the information is biased or if the author seems to be opinionated, the information on such websites cannot be trusted. Only websites which has unbiased information can be trusted.

• Currency: Currency of the information is very important. Outdated information is of no use to anybody. While evaluating a website for currency, one must check when the information was first published, when it was last updated and whether it is updated regularly or not. If the website is not updated regularly, then the information from such a website cannot be trusted.

• Coverage: While evaluating the coverage of a website, one must check whether everyone has access to the information, or only paid members can access it. Also, whether any special software is required to view the information or whether it can be viewed in any platform must be checked out.

The website can be trusted only if, after evaluation, it is found to have a high degree of accuracy, authority, objectivity and currency and good coverage. The entire responsibility for evaluating a website lies with the reader. Information could be falsified. Readers have to be careful in establishing the authenticity of the information they find through search engines. If the readers master the skill of website evaluation, they will be able to identify reliable sources of information. Over time, they may even become experts in website evaluation.

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Last update: 2008-02-10 11:10
Author: AMB
Revision: 1.0

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