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Zoo Project: Evaluating Websites

Research

The F.A.R.T. Test: How to Tell if A Website Stinks!

F: Is the site FRIENDLY to the eyes? Is it easy to read? Did the creator take time to make a well designed website? Is the site free of lots of flashy things that distract you from the text? If someone doesn’t bother to present the information in a neat fashion, the information may not be worth using.

A: Does the AUTHOR have AUTHORITY? Is he an expert on the issue? Does the author identify his/herself and give you a way to contact him/her and ask a question?  Does the author provide FACTS free from bias/opinion? If someone doesn’t bother to take credit for his work, that may be a sign that he doesn’t want to be connected to it.

R: Is the information REPEATED elsewhere? Does the author cite his/her sources so you can verify the information? Are their links to footnotes or other relevant/reliable sources?  If you find the most fascinating tidbit of information, but only one person claims to know it, and he/she can’t tell you where he/she learned that fact, and no other source confirms it, it’s probably not a piece of information you want to use.

T: Is the information TIMELY? When was the information published? Is your topic time sensitive? Has the website been updated recently? Old information doesn’t help with current issue research, and websites that have been abandoned may not be the best sources.

Other things to consider when evaluating website:

  • What is the URL domain extension (.com, .org, .edu, etc.)
  • What is the purpose of the site (to inform, persuade, entertain, share, sell?)
  • Does the author share facts or opinions?
  • Do the links work and take you where they are supposed to?
  • Does the website use correct grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.?

Be aware!  These questions are not a checklist.   Some credible websites will not meet all of the criteria AND other unreliable websites may include some of the credible criteria.  

Websites that Stink

 

Save the Tree Octopus!

Compare These Three Websites to Decide Which is Most Credible

 

Kepler and K2's mission: Explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems.

 

National Investigation Committee on Ariel Phenomenon 

 

UFO Evidence

Wikipedia or No Wikipedia?

Wikipedia isn't ALL bad.  It can be a good place to start your research and get a general overview of your topic before diving into further research.  Here are some Wikipedia DO's and DON'T'S.

DO...

  • use Wikipedia to become familiar with a topic or as a starting point for research
  • use Wikipedia to find more search terms or keywords for your research topic
  • maintain a level of skepticism when reading Wikipedia articles
  • use the external links and references at the end of the articles to  find more reliable sources
  • check the reliability of  the sources of the article you are reading

DON'T...

  • cite Wikipedia articles in your bibliography for assignments or papers
  • treat information on Wikipedia as facts, especially when concerning legal or medical advice
  • assume the author/editor of a Wikipedia page is an expert; anyone can contribute to/edit a Wikipedia page

What's best for you? Britannica School v. Britannica.com

Compare and contrast these two versions of Britannica. Which one is better for your needs? Why?