Thursday, December 01, 2005

Evaluating Web Content

Ever come across information on the web and wondered about its accuracy? Here in the Research Network we try to evaluate web content by checking for:
  • credibility
  • authority
  • reliability
  • relevance
  • date
  • sources behind the text, and
  • scope and purpose.
For example, a recent article in USA Today found a false Wikipedia 'biography' for John Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s. Seigenthaler himself found the inaccurate text on Wikipedia and his son located the same inaccurate information on Reference.com and Answers.com. "Representatives of the other two websites said their computers are programmed to copy data verbatim from Wikipedia, never checking whether it is false or factual."

So, how do you know if the Wikipedia entry you found or anything else on the web is true? Use the web with caution, verify facts and try to find cooberating evidence from articles or books by experts in the field. Keep in mind that just because it's in print doesn't mean it's true. My seventh grade English teacher quoted Benjamin Franklin who said, "Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see." (Should we believe him?)

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

Yes, I'm responding to my own post. Here's an update on the false Wikipedia entry from Genie Tyburski:

The man behind the bogus Wikipedia entry on John Seigenthaler Sr. volunteered his identity and hand-delivered an apology. Brian Chase "said he created a fake online biography of Seigenthaler in May as a gag to shock a co-worker, who was familiar with the Seigenthaler family."

Chase also said he "didn't know that the free Internet encyclopedia called Wikipedia was used as a serious reference tool."