Who wrote the pages and are they an expert? Is a biography of the author included? How can I find out more about the author?
Who is the sponsor? Which organization is publishing this website?
Look for an ABOUT or HOME link on the page, which should help you learn about the author or organization. It is okay to use information from reputable organizations like NASA, or USGS, even if there is not a person's name given as the author. If you can trust the information because it comes from experts, the web site is authoritative.
Be a detective and look for evidence that the the information you found is AUTHORITATIVE.
Are the author's name and credentials stated? Look for evidence that the information was written by experts.
Has the author cited his/her sources? Experts should list the sources they used.
Is there an email address for the author? (Look for a link marked CONTACT.)
Some organizations are well known for expertise in a particular field, like NASA for astronomy and space questions. If you are not familiar with the sponsoring organization, do some detective work to learn about them. Look for the ABOUT link.
Do reputable web sites link to this one? To find out which web sites link to Fay School, go to Google and typelink:http://www.fayschool.org in the search box. Try this with the web site you're evaluating.
What does the author say is the purpose of the site? What else might the author have in mind for the site? What makes the site easy to use? What information is included and does this information differ from other sites?
Are all points of view of a controversial topic presented? Does the information seem objective and unbiased?
Some web sites do present differing points of view on controversial topics. Bias means prejudice, or presenting information only from one particular point of view. For instance, information about a cure for a disease presented by a pharmaceutical company is biased because the company hopes to make money from the cure. Information about the dangers of smoking presented by a tobacco company may be correct but incomplete. You may choose to use this information, but be sure to get complete information from all points of view.
Can you distinguish facts from the author's opinion?
This can be difficult to do. Some web site authors do not cite the sources for their information. Ask a teacher or librarian if you're not sure what is fact and what is opinion.
When was the site created? When was the site last updated?
Be a detective and discover when the site was last updated.
Look for a date on the web page for when the information was updated. This is usually at the bottom of the page. You need up-to-date information within the context of your topic. Here are a few examples to help you decide:
Pluto: On August 24, 2006, scientists voted to redefine the word "planet" so that Pluto no longer qualified as a true planet but a dwarf planet. If a website about Pluto has not been updated since then, the information will not be accurate.
Abraham Lincoln: Even though historians are still learning details of his life, websites that have not been updated in several years will probably have accurate information.
Medicine or science: There are new discoveries in these fields all the time, so the more recently the website was updated, the better.