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How to Evaluate a Web site

The Internet is a vast network of information that varies in quality, where reputable resources reside along more dubious ones. Unscrupulous individuals can post information that may seem reliable and credible.

There is no central mechanism for evaluating information that is posted on the Web. Each person must develop a method by which they evaluate the information they find.

At investorlearning.ca we are committed to providing authoritative information. Through our website, we offer the investing public an array of resources that have been evaluated using the five criteria discussed below.

The Five Criteria on how to evaluate a website

1. Accuracy

  • Is the information true, and believable? i.e. can the information be verified by consulting a non-web source or by your personal knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Does the author provide an explanation as to the origin of the information provided? i.e. source of data
  • Who is the author or organization? Is contact information provided if you wish to verify information?
  • Purpose or scope of documents? Is the document educational or for advertising purposes?
  • Are sources cited, i.e. is a book list provided?
  • Is there a fair amount of depth to the topic being discussed?
  • In comparison to other resources (i.e. print) what is the value of the information being provided?
  • If graphs or charts are provided, is the source identified?

2. Authority

  • Is an author provided and if so what are the authors' credentials', institutional affiliation (i.e. sponsoring organization)?
  • Is the author well known in this field? (For example many sites will either provide an author's biography or link to an area where that information is provided)
  • Education and experiences? Is she/he qualified to write this document?

(Information about an author or sponsoring organization will usually be found at the beginning or at the end of a document. Disregard sites that don't provide this information).

  • Who is the organization sponsoring this document and are they reputable, i.e. are they well known, leaders in their field?
  • What is the domain name? A good indicator of authority is the domain name.
    • ~ indicates the site is a personal one,
    • .edu means it's an educational site,
    • .com refers to a commercial enterprise,
    • .gov is given to government sites,
    • .org to organizations, and
    • .ca are Canadian web sites

3. Currency

  • Is the information updated regularly?
  • Are the updates dates stated (for example most websites committed to providing timely data will provide update dates at the bottom of each page)
  • Is a date of copyright included? Is it recent?
  • How reliable are the links? Are there dead links? Are there resources that have moved?

4. Objectivity

  • Is the information educational? An advertisement? Factual or Opinion?
  • What is the sites scope or purpose?
  • Political or ideological biases? Are they hidden or revealed?
For example do not rely purely on press releases from corporate website, seek reports from other sources

5. Coverage

  • Is the information provided clearly communicated? I.e. written in the language of the intended audience. Presented clearly and logically?
  • Are the spelling and grammar rules respected?
  • Is the layout of the document clear and easily navigable?
  • Are there too many links?
  • Have the links been evaluated?
  • Who is the intended audience and is the information provided appropriate for that intended audience?
  • Is the information available in another format? (for example sometimes summarized information is provided for free on the web, and the full text of the information is only available for a fee)