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How can we evaluate the information on a web site?

chip bruce ( (ready to use)

Subject Areas
Information Science, Philosophy

Unit Keywords
EPS304,evaluation, web site

Rationale of the Unit
How can users evaluate the information they find on the web? Should they have different standards for the web versus print encyclopedias, journal article, newspapers, television? What criteria should they use?

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Background and Resources

There is an immense amount of information on the web. More and more organizations and individuals are rushing to put information on the web and it is often unclear who the author is or whether anyone else has vetted the material. Very often, apparently archival information is opinion, misinformation, advertising, or half-truth, not to mention the problems of transcription errors and out-of-date pages. These issues are not new to the web, but rather highlight the importance of critical reading in any media.


Bruce, Bertram C. (2000). Credibility of the web: Why we need dialectical reading. Journal of Philosophy of Education (special issue), 34 (1), 97-109.  Also in P. Standish & N. Blake (Eds.), Enquiries at the interface: Philosophical problems of online education (pp. 107-122). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Bruce, Bertram C. (1999, April). Digital content: The Babel of cyberspace. Reprinted from the Technology Department of the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy .

Colhoun, Alexander (2000, April 25). But - I found it on the Internet! With so much homework done online, kids need better skills to sort good information from bad. The Christian Science Monitor .

Floridi, Luciano. Rheingold's brainstorms: Disinformation superhighway?

speaker Geof Bowker (UCSD) - interview by Kevin Leander on classification issues (25 mins.) ( text translation)

speaker Nicholas Burbules, Chip Bruce, and Barb Duncan on credibility (30 mins.)


Below are just a few resources on critically reading the web. If you find new ones in your searching, please share them.

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Activities and Open-ended problems
Explore the prototype Web Evaluation Workbench. How might that be expanded and improved?

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Dialogues, Discussions, and Presentations
  1. Discuss in webboard how you might approach validating web-based information with users. Then, with other students, discuss ways that you might develop a unit to teach
    about this issue.

  2. Find two web page evaluation sites with contrasting ideas of credibility. What are the assumptions about where knowledge comes from that underly these differences?

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Assessment, Related Questions, and Story of the Unit

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