Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

In order to conduct a proper evaluation of a website, there are five factors that must be considered. They are:

Accuracy- The legitamacy of the information presented is obviously important. Examples of highly accurate websites might be government sites or international bodies such as the United Nations. A personal website or blog, on the other hand, may include information that is factually incorrect.

Authority- The authority of a website is a question of authorship: who or what body is providing the given content? Content submitted by a peer-reviewed author holds more weight than the content provided by someone speaking outside their field of expertise. The content of a respected web journal such as First Monday carries more weight than that of a given Wikipedia article, where there is little limitation on authorship.

Currency- Currency, as the name implies, is a matter of how current the content of a site is. This factor is important to more than just news sites: constant developments in the fields such as science, technology, law, and health means that content needs to be added and/or altered in order to maintain correctness. Blogs and online trade journals are a pair of examples of frequently updated sites.

Objectivity- Much like authority, this factor again evaluates the provider of the content of a site. What motivations do they have for providing the content? Similarly, what motivations might they have for NOT providing other information on the topic? As an example, the website of a political party or movement may only provide content from one viewpoint on a given topic.

Coverage- When examining coverage, it is necessary to determine how the content of a website is being presented. Is the content primarily composed of images? Are external links provided to support assertions (or to provide opposing viewpoints)? Are facts cited properly, allowing the viewer to follow a chain of evidence? Online journals typically exemplify websites with strong coverage, whereas Pinterest and other social media sites frequently occupy the other extreme.

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