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Environmental Biology

The 5 W's of Websites

The 5 W's of Websites

Ask yourself these questions when you come across a website. The 5 W's will help you determine the reliability, accuracy and currency of a website.

Who: is it a business, school, government agency, news source, or something else?

What: is it a blog, wiki, advertisement, article, or something else?

When: When was the website last updated? Try and find the copyright information on the page you are viewing.

Where: is the web address a .edu, .com, .org, .gov or something else? This will help determine who created the site.

Why: Is the website for entertainment use, to persuade you or inform you?

Evaluating Websites

The CRAAP Test

Think about these factors when evaluating a Web page (or other resource):

C = Currency

R = Relevance

A = Authority

A = Accuracy

P = Purpose

Currency: The timeliness of the Web page. If relevant, when was the information gathered? When was it posted? When was it last revised? Are links functional and up-to-date? Is there evidence of newly added information or links?

Relevance/Coverage: The uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs. What is the depth and breadth of the information presented? Is the information unique? Is it available elsewhere, in print or electronic format? Could you find the same or better information in another source? Who is the intended audience? Does the site provide the information you need? Your overall assessment is important. Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the Web page. Who is the author/creator/sponsor? Are author's credentials listed? Is the author a teacher or student of the topic? Does the author have a reputation? Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address? Has the author published works in traditional formats? Is the author affiliated with an organization? Does this organization appear to support or sponsor the page? What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content. Where does the information come from? Are the original sources of information listed? Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge? Has the information been reviewed or refereed? Does the language or tone seem biased? Are there spelling, grammar, or other typos?

Purpose: The presence of bias or prejudice/The reason the Web site exists. Are possible biases clearly stated? Is advertising content vs. informational content easily distinguishable? Are editorials clearly labeled? Is the purpose of the page stated? Is the purpose to: inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade? What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org .net

*Modified version of CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at California State University, Chico

Definitions of URL endings

.com : commercial

.edu : educational

.org : non-profit organization

.gov : government government

.mil : military site

.net : network

.biz : business

.info : informative

These are the most common URL endings (or domains) used for web addresses. However, you might encounter others just be sure to use the 5 W's (see above) or some other evaluation system when you enter a site.