9c Evaluating Websites

What can the URL tell you? - (go through together)

  1. Before you leave the list of search results and before you click and get interested in anything written on the page, get all you can from the URLs of each page. Then choose pages most likely to be reliable and authentic.
  2. Who published the site - the server is usually named in the first portion of the URL (between http: and the first /). Have you heard of the publisher?

  3. Watch out for this sign ~. It usually means that the webpage. For example, the URL below tells you that someone called A Butz wrote the page.

4. Look at domain names for appropriateness
  • Government sites: look for .gov, .mil
  • Educational sites: look for .edu
  • Nonprofit organisations: look for .org (though this is no longer restricted to nonprofits)
  • Look at country codes: sv, uk, gt etc


Who is the Author? - (go through together)

  1. Who wrote the page? Look at the foot of the webpage, "Contact us" or "About us" for information
  2. When was it written? If you can't find out you shouldn't use the information.
  3. If you cannot find the author, truncate the URL to see if you can find out more about the publisher.

Forward Links (go through together)

  1. Are there links to other resources on the topic?
  2. Are the links well chosen, well organised, and/or evaluated/annotated?
  3. Do the links work?
  4. Do the links represent other viewpoints?
  5. Do the links (or absence of other viewpoints) indicate a bias?

Who links to this page? (go through together)

  1. Using the link command in Altavista - to apply the link command go to http://www.altavista.com/, type <link:yourwebaddress> (without brackets and without a space after the colon), and then click the Search button.
Screen_shot_2010-01-17_at_2.58.03_PM.png 2. Also try BacklinkWatch


3. When using looking at who links to your website, ask yourself
  • Are there many links?
  • What kinds of sites link to it?
  • What do they say?


Some websites are hoaxes. Use the above tips to evaluate these websites for authenticity, publisher, links etc.

Evaluating Bias on Websites

Is the information balanced: is the language emotional or inflammatory; does the information represent a single opinion or a range of opinions? Remember that anyone can publish a web page. Groups that publish websites may ignore other points of view or even use propaganda techniques to twist ideas. Can you find proof of unfairness on a webpage?
  1. Read about how to spot bias
  2. Test your new skills by reading extracts from these websites Do the first two.
  3. Read these three blog posts and decide whether you think they are biased or balanced posts.

Can you identify bias on these websites?

Try these websites - they are genuine sites (not hoax sites), but do they give a balanced view? Discuss with a partner and decide whether you think they are biased or not. Read the message and remember to look at who links to the site, who owns the site etc as this often gives you some clues.