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Website Evaluation: Tips & Tricks

Evaluating Information on Websites

What to do and How to do it?

Evaluating Information

If you are not using the FAU databases, you need to consider some questions when evaluating information from the Internet:

  1. How current is the information?
  2. How reliable is the information?
  3. How authoritative is the source of information?
  4. How accurate is the information?
  5. How relevant is the information to my topic?

What's in a suffix?

Confused by a suffix to a website URL?

  • .gov = a U.S. government website
    (i.e., White House)
  • .com = a commercial website
    (i.e., Amazon)
  • .edu = an educational website
    (i.e., Florida Atlantic University)
  • .org = a non-profit organization website (i.e., National Education Association)
  • .uk, .fr, etc. = websites from countries other than U.S. (i.e., United Kingdom, France, etc.)

TIP: Search Google for a topic by suffix to restrict the search to types of websites. Search format: put in search terms, and then site:.____ (____ will be .gov, .edu, .org, etc.)
(Ex: African crafts will bring up websites about African crafts at .edu websites)

Determining Website Credibility

Evaluating Websites for Content

One of the biggest problems that individuals have with websites is that they are not sure that the content that they receive is accurate. Here are some basic ways to evaluate a website.

  1. What does the domain name tell you? If the domain name includes .gov at the end it is a government website (, if has an .edu it is educational (, and .org is for non-profits ( Remember that just because a site is a non-profit, doesn't mean it may not have bias, but in general these are more reliable sites. Sites that have a country code at the end .uk and .au for example, are not regulated strictly and you should take care to evaluate it further.  

  2. Look at the URL (the web address located on the top of the page in the address bar). Does the URL have a name included like Yahoo, Geocities, etc.? Is there a personal name in the URL? That may give you a clue that it is a personal site and reflects the views of an individual person.

  3. Who wrote the page? Is there a page author listed? If there is no author, is there a company name? Is there contact information listed? If there is no one listed that takes responsibility for the page you may want take that into consideration.

Here are some links to reliable sites that will help you with your evaluation:

Cornell Web Evaluation Website

UC Berkeley Web Evaluation Tips

Johns Hopkins Evaluating Sources on the Internet

Credibility Issues!

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Exercises / Examples

Confused? OR

Let's compare:

So, in this case, you could use either site and access the same Federal Register government-supplied information, as well as perform searches using the provided search boxes, and get the same results for Federal Register information.

However, that typically is not be true of all .com vs. .gov sites that otherwise share a common name. Examples of sites that are different with .gov and .com suffixes are: vs. (a "placeholder" commercial site that links to ads vs. the government site, "National Archives"). vs. (commercial Rand McNally truckers map site vs. a government site regarding legislative information). vs.  (both link to government sites, but they do not contain the same information and are not both government sites).

And to truly mix things up, see: vs. ( is actually the government site, and does not link to any website).