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EN 1200 Composition: Kristin Stelmok: Home

Evaluating Websites

"Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him (or her)."

 Novelist Ernest Hemingway, Atlantic Monthly interview, August 1954

Websites on the internet can be an excellent source of information for your projects and papers.  However, just like you have to determine the kind of periodical you are using (journal, magazine, trade journal), you have to very closely inspect these sources to make sure they are reputable.  Try the CRAP Test!  It works great for all resources, but especially for websites.  Here are the criteria:

CURRENCY

  • How recent is the information?
  • When was the website last updated?
  • Is the website current enough for your topic?

RELIABILITY

  • What kind of information is included in the website?  Is the content primarily opinion?  Is it balanced?
  • Does the website provide references or sources for data or quotations?

AUTHORITY

  • Who is the creator or author?  What are their credentials?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the website?  Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher's interest (if any) in the information on the website?
  • Are there any advertisements on the website?

PURPOSE/POINT OF VIEW

  • Is the material fact or opinion?
  • Is the material biased?
  • Is the website trying to sell you something (i.e. a product, an idea)?

Apply this test often and become a cautious information consumer!

Now, let's practice!  Take a look at this website and answer the poll questions below.

Diabetes: The Poison that Lurks in Your Daily Soft Drink

Is this website current?
Yes: 14 votes (63.64%)
No: 6 votes (27.27%)
Hard to tell: 2 votes (9.09%)
Total Votes: 22
Is this website reliable?
Yes: 1 votes (5%)
No: 17 votes (85%)
Hard to tell: 2 votes (10%)
Total Votes: 20
Does this website appear to be authoritative?
Yes: 7 votes (35%)
No: 12 votes (60%)
Hard to tell: 1 votes (5%)
Total Votes: 20
Does this website appear to have a bias, or a special point of view?
Yes: 16 votes (84.21%)
No: 2 votes (10.53%)
Hard to tell: 1 votes (5.26%)
Total Votes: 19
Would this be an appropriate source for use in a college-level paper?
Yes: 1 votes (5.26%)
No: 18 votes (94.74%)
Hard to tell: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 19