The internet is a vast world of information but not all of it is useful or even true. Unlike books, there is no one central publisher or editor who is checking for errors or misinformation before publication. You should get in the habit of evaluating any websites that you are using for research or even for your own personal information. Ask yourself these questions when looking at websites:
Who is the author of the site? Is the webmaster’s name listed? Can you e-mail them? Who’s responsible for the site? The domain name, .edu, .gov, etc., will give you a clue.
How accurate is the information? Does it agree with accepted sources in that field? The encyclopedia is always a quick way to check information you find on a website.
When was the site last updated? Current updates usually mean the site is being reviewed on a regular basis.
Are they trying to sell something? .com sites support their product or sponsor. That doesn’t make them wrong; just be aware.
Is the site biased toward one viewpoint? .org sites provide information on an organization. Again, that doesn’t make them wrong; just think about what you’re seeing on the site.
What’s the reason for putting up the site? Is it somebody’s class project or a personal site? Is the site useful for my research? Evaluate these sites using the same criteria as above.
Remember, there’s no need to pay for college or financial aid information on the internet. It’s already available for free at the library or on college websites. Be careful when sending credit card or personal information across the internet. Use only secure sites which guarantee the security and privacy of your information and only send information to organizations with which you’re familiar. Look for the locked padlock or other security icons before sending financial or personal information across the web.