Web Literacy

The world wide web holds a vast array of websites owned by an incredible number of people; each with different backgrounds, cultures, interests, values, and purposes for owning a website. Because of this, a lot of information is incorrect and a lot of webpages only exist for futile reasons. In order to navigate the right sites, people have to practice their web literacy skills. This skill is based around a few important factors:

  • Who owns the website? Check the website to see if there’s an author’s name and if there’s a way to contact him/her. If there’s contact information the website is more likely to have a constructive reason to exist, as that person is offering viewers to engage.
  • Are their sources for information on the website? As with any article written, the facts are coming from an exterior source. A website with a bibliography attached to its articles is vastly more legitimate than one that does not. Not only has the author spent the time to create a bibliography, but often times the sources are available online themselves and can be read.
  • What’s the URL of the website? Yes, sometimes it is good to judge a book by its cover. The URL of a website says a lot about what the legitimacy of the content being posted. For example, .gov and .edu are both run by professionals with the purpose of informing. Websites with .com or .ca at the end are commercial and private websites, used for the purposes of the corporation or individual behind them. A webpage with a .edu URL is much more likely to give legitimate information on research topics than one with a .com URL.
  • What is the purpose of the website? Is it to inform? To persuade? To teach? With knowing all the factors above, it’s often easy to determine the reason for a websites existence. The purpose of a company’s website is usually to persuade, as they want you to buy their products. The purpose of a biased news company is to also persuade, this time in believing their news. A website aimed at learning has the purpose of teaching and informing.

When coming into contact with a new website it’s important to take these factors in as you navigate through it. It can save you a lot of time and effort and also helps you become a better critical thinker!

Sources:

1) “Evaluating Websites.” Classzone.com. McDougal Littell, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. http://www.classzone.com/books/research_guide/page_build.cfm?state=none&content=web_eval&u=1

2) “Evaluating Web Pages.” Library.duke.edu. Duke University, 25 Sept. 2007. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. http://library.duke.edu/services/instruction/libraryguide/evalwebpages.html

3) Kapoun, Jim. “Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages.”Http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu. Cornell University, 18 Sept. 1998. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/webcrit.html

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