This week in the symposium we discussed the validity of things online. I think there are a number of factors that can decrease or increase the supposed validity of things you read online, but in my opinion, the most important thing is to use your own judgment and common sense.
When I’m looking for information online, these are some of the things I take into consideration:
- The reputation of the website itself — if it’s a well-known company, news website or organisation, chances are the information is going to be more reliable than something posted on someone’s individual blog. This is a big generalisation but if someone is making false claims or expressing a biased piece of information on their own personal blog they will probably get away with it where as a more well-known website would probably be pulled up on it and face some sort of consequences or controversy.
- Reliability tends to increase when:
- Sources are cited
- The author’s name and/or credentials are cited
- Relevant statistics, values and figures are cited
- Quotes from qualified individuals are cited
- Information presented is consistent with other sources
- Date of publication is recent.
- Bias can be recognised when:
- Strong, derogatory, insulting or inflammatory language is used
- Only the author’s viewpoint is presented
- Information presented is inconsistent or contrasts with current/accepted thoughts or views
- Arguments lack support or are not logical.