26 Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Websites

A conceptual illustration of the Outernet. Concept described in text.
Figure 6-1: The Outernet by John Atkinson is licensed under CC‑BY‑NC‑ND 3.0.

If you visualize the Internet as a community, you will notice that websites come from certain neighborhoods. Each neighborhood or part of town has its own underlying vibe and structure. Likewise, blogs and social media have a certain look or vibe that is different from business or scholarly websites.

You might also think of certain websites and how they would fit into a geographical community. Figure 6-1 is a conceptual illustration of an Outernet —a neighborhood where Amazon is compared to a bookstore; Facebook is a park; YouTube is a movie theater, and the service providers are the modes of transportation that get you to those places.

Thinking about where (which neighborhood) a web source belongs can help you decide whether the site is credible and relevant to your information need. (18)

What is the Difference Between Google and a Library Website?

Watch this brief video, Why Can’t I just Search Google? to understand why Google sometimes falls short when your task is to find credible sources for college-level research.

Which Domain Extension Should You Choose?

You can tell a lot about the website’s neighborhood by the domain extension. Some domains are considered more reliable and trustworthy than others. You should be wary about the Outernet neighborhood you are in. Some sites will make you want to roll up your windows or drive out of there fast.

Domain Extensions


.gov = government websites.

Limited to U.S. governmental entities and agencies. Government websites are good sources for research, posting reports, data, and statistics. (1)


.edu = education websites. Limited to specific higher education accrediting institutions. Education website can include information published by faculty.


.org = organization website. Any entity or person is permitted to register. Typically used by nonprofit organizations, these website can be biased or have an agenda.


.net = network website. Any entity or person is permitted to register. Originally used for networks, these websites are used in different ways, usually if a .com extension is already taken.


.com = commercial website. Any business entity or person is permitted to register. These websites sell products or services.


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