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Evaluating Websites

How do you know if the information found on the Internet is good quality, authoritative information — or garbage?

Learn here how to evaluate web pages for quality in only 10 minutes.


Step 1

THE 5 Ws

The Washington State Library recommends using 5 Ws: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.

WHO is responsible for the site? Is there an author? If so, what are his/her credentials? Is the ‘author’ an organization or association?

WHAT type of site is it? The web site’s URL address will have one of the following abbreviations to identify the type of site: .edu = educational; .org = organization; .gov = government; .com = commercial; .net = network/utilities; .mil = military

WHEN was the site created or last updated? An automated date does not indicate when the information was updated. Typing the javascript phrase of javascript:alert(document.lastModified) in the address bar and hitting the enter key, will provide you with the date the site was last updated.

WHERE can you find more information? Is there contact information other than an email address? Is there documentation for factual statements made? Are there links to other viewpoints, if applicable?

WHY was the site created? Is the goal to sell? To persuade? To advocate an agenda? To inform? Why are advertisements (if any) there? Do they relate to the site?

Look at the two videos below to compare two different websites on the topic of AIDS according to the 5 Ws.


Step 2

UNAIDS - 3:19 minutes

Explore the UNAIDS website for yourself.


Step 2

Origin of AIDS - 3:32 minutes

Explore Origin of for yourself.


Step 4

Providing Feedback

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