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Evaluating Web Sites Criteria for Evaluating Web Sites

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3. When was the site created/last updated?

Is your topic time-sensitive? In other words, is it important that you locate the most current, up-to-date resources? If so, ask yourself:

  • Does the site indicate when it was first created and last updated?

  • Do the links work, or do they lead to error messages, such as "Page Not Found" ? Sites that are not regularly updated are likely to have more "broken links."


4. Where does the site "live"?

Look closely at the site's URL—specifically at the three-letter suffix known as an extension. For example, in the address www.archives.gov, the extension is .gov Sometimes, the extension can provide clues about the source of the site you are viewing.

Some Common Extensions

Extension Source

.gov

Government agency

.edu

Educational institution

.org

Organization (usually, though not always, nonprofit)

.com

Commercial business or personal Web site

.mil

Military

Watch Out! A site with the .gov extension signals a government agency, and therefore, probably has reliable and trustworthy information. However, it can be harder to determine whether sites with the .edu, .org, or .com extensions are quality ones. For example, the .edu extension indicates that a site is associated with an educational institution, but it doesn't tell you whether it's the official site of the history department or one created by a first-year student.

Remember—looking at the URL's extension can uncover clues about the quality of the site, but doesn't tell the whole story. To really determine whether the site is a good one, you'll need to ask the other 4 Ws: who? what? when? and why?

Learn more about the parts of a URL address.

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