Do Your Online Resources Pass This Test?

How do you know whether or not a website is a worthwhile resource? It can be hard to tell from a single glance if a website is valuable. If you’re considering using a certain site for information for yourself or as a potential site to point students toward but aren’t certain about the website’s value, try evaluating it across the following four categories:

1. Authoritativeness
 The author(s) are respected authorities in the field.
 The author(s) are knowledgeable.
The author(s) provide a list of credentials and/or educational background.
 The author(s) represent respected, credible institutions or organizations.
 Complete information on references (or sources) is provided.
Information for contacting the author(s) and webmaster is provided.

2. Comprehensiveness
 All facets of the subject are covered.
 Sufficient detail is provided at the site.
 Information provided is accurate.
 Political, ideological, and other biases are not evident.

3. Presentation
 Graphics serve an educational, rather than decorative, purpose.
 Links are provided to related sites.
 What icons stand for is clear and unambiguous.
The website loads quickly.
 The website is stable and seldom, if ever, nonfunctional.

4. Timeliness
 The original website was produced recently.
 The website is updated and/or revised regularly.
 Links given at the website are up-to-date and reliable.

Decide whether the site in question matches up against each characteristic in a way that’s poor, fair, or excellent. Tally up the score for each. For a website to be worth using, it should fall mostly in the “excellent” range, have some qualities that are “fair,” and have extremely few to, preferably, no “poor” tallies. You should also decide whether any of the categories and sub-characteristics are “make or break it” qualities. Figuring out ahead of time what you need from a site can help you determine whether any given source will actually give you what you need.

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