INTL 471 Understanding the International Experience: Assessing Web Resources

Guide to Understanding the International Experience

Who created the page and why?

The internet can be an excellent resource for finding information, but care must be taken when determining which sources to trust. Anyone can register a .org or .com domain, and private institutions with a cultural, religious, political, or social bias can register their websites as .edu.   As with all sources, consider the following questions when deciding whether or not to use a web resource:

-Who wrote the page?
-Why did they create the page?
-Where did they get their information?
-Is it clear who created the page?

Often, official-looking pages can be biased sources. As an example, consider the "Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University."


It suggests a university affiliation, and has a .org URL.   If you go to the "About Us" page, however, and scroll to the bottom of the page, you can see their Board of Directors:

The Institute's affliction with Koch Industries, which is not referenced elsewhere on the website, has a significant influence on the content and information.  Further digging reveals that the Institute rents space on George Mason campus, and is not a department of the university. It is literally "at" the university, but not a part of it.

Consider who created the website - and why - when deciding whether to use it as a source.   Similarly, when using Wikipedia, remember that anyone can edit entries.