LIBRARY OPERATING STATUS: The Richard E. Bjork Library is open now. Occupancy is limited to 141 people and all patrons must wear a mask. Curbside service is also available. Librarians are available for virtual reference.
Anyone can publish information on the Internet -- which means it's a reader's responsibility to determine whether the information they've found is both reliable (worthy of trust) and valuable (useful for their needs).
When you have to make an important personal life decision, you don't believe and act on the first piece of advice that someone gives you -- especially if that person isn't someone you know and trust. You should handle your information needs with the same caution and skepticism.
When you encounter an idea that someone has put out into the world, always ask yourself: should I believe and act on this?
Don't trust a source based solely on the site's appearance. It's easy to make a site look professional.
Don't automatically trust a .org site; don't automatically distrust a .com site. It's easier than you think to get a .org domain. And many credible sources operate under a for-profit model.
Don't rush your research. Fact-checking takes a little extra time; there's no way around that. Getting credible sources will require a minor amount of legwork.
When you find something on the Web, always ask yourself :
Answering these questions won't always lead you to a guaranteed, concrete judgment about the source -- but you will likely be on the path to a critical evaluation.
In his book, Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers, Michael Caufield lists four "moves" that students should master to effectively evaluate sources of information.