When Should You Trust a Website’s Content?
It is important to qualify your sources of information. By that, we mean that when you read something or get advice from someone, it’s important to know where they got their information. This is important when you are looking for a qualified service provider or doing some research online. As you know, there is no shortage of information online. Finding information is not hard but figuring out if you can trust the information is a challenge.
As an empowered consumer, you want to make sure that you’re making decisions based on sound information. Sound information comes from research, studies, or examinations by a professional in the field. This is supporting evidence. Information that you read in articles, books, magazines, blogs, and even our guides, should be based on supporting evidence.
When you are conducting research online, you should make sure that the websites you visit contain sound information with supporting evidence from reputable sources.
Know What To Do, Know What To Ask:
Here are some questions to help you determine the quality of information on any website. The answers to these questions will help you to decide if you can trust a website’s information.
- Who owns/created the site – important because some groups, businesses, or individuals may want to mask their identity and promote a hidden agenda. This information is typically located on the about page. Look for credentials, education, history, and purpose. If you can’t find this information then be suspect of this site.
- What is the mission of the website – are they trying to sell you something, educate you, link you to another website, or just get you to click on ads. Look for mission statement or about page.
- What does the site link to – look at the outbound links to see if they are relevant, education-based, or are they mostly to product pages.
- How current is the information – when was the last time they posted, how current are the topics being discussed, is the research they cite current or old?
- Is content based totally on opinion or does it include research. Look to see if research is from reputable sources. Does content contradict itself? Is content biased or inclusive and encourage independent thinking?
- What type of information does the site ask from you?
- The domain extension will tell you about the website as well. Commercial sites end in “.com”; Government agencies will end with “gov”; University websites will end in “edu”; and non-profits end in “org”.
- You can also look for the © Copyright symbol which tells you who owns the copyright to the content.
The more transparent a website is the better.
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