What makes a website credible!?

John R. Henderson, librarian at Ithaca College, presented this tutorial as a tool for deciphering which web sites are reliable and which are not. Henderson offers six suggestions for using the web wisely and efficiently:

1. Make sure you are in the right place 2. when in doubt, doubt 3. consider the source 4. know whats happening 5. look at details 6. Distinguish web pages from pages found on the web

He also provided six suggestions for evaluating sources:

Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency, Coverage, and Value

I used Henderson’s recommendations to analyze six websites on the topic of “Reliving the Sixties”

When I clicked on this link for “The Sixties Project” and was brought to the home page  I was immediately confused. I saw “.edu” in the url, usually a good sign of legitimacy, yet the homepage layout just screamed early 90’s. Then I read the information under contact information and saw that the last time this site was updated was Thursday, January 28, 1999. When a website hasn’t been updated in over a decade, there is absolutely no point in continuing on the site. For a topic such as the sixties, I feel some people would argue that all the information is history, therefore it is not changing and does not need to be updated, but that is just false especially in the case of this site. Under the “news” tab the site lists all of their “upcoming events” with their most recent event coming up March 5, 1999….

“The psychedelic 60s” website is not quite as bad but pretty similar to “The Sixties Project.” Again, the major issue is that the site is outdated, having been last modified December 16, 2009. Putting that major issue aside, the design of the website is almost incomprehensible. The home page has one extremely outdated graphic drowning in a white background, which is especially weird considering the article is called “The psychedelic 60s.” Then, as soon as you click on a topic from the homepage, a million things pop up and it goes from boring to overwhelming immediately. Looking at this site the rules above of “when in doubt, doubt” and “look at details” came to mind. A homepage is the first thing that any new visitor sees, and although this may be “judging a book by its cover,” it matters when you are trying to sell your website. Personally, if a website’s homepage looks like it was designed by a child, it is going to be hard for me to trust that your content is extensively researched and reliable.

“The Sixties” website is a class website at the University of Miami, which made me think of Henderson’s recommendation to consider the source. Although in some ways the fact that it is for a class could make it more reliable, as you know the author’s objective is to teach. On the other hand one must consider that what is on the website is probably being contextualized in the class, so the site alone might not make very much sense. Also, it does not contain enough information for someone who would be trying to do an extensive research project. The site is not set up in a typical way; there are no links within the stories, but rather a separate bibliography that is far more extensive than the articles themselves are. I am sure this is done intentionally for the class, but for a random person reading the website it may not be the best choice as a source.

“The 1960s” piece by History.com is the most reliable source I have examined of the bunch thus far, passing all of Henderson’s tests to be considered a reliable website. Like I mentioned before, the homepage, design, and lay out provide the first impression for a reader, and if a site is not eye-catching there is another site that is just a click away. The integration of multimedia in this piece is done very effectively, and in a way that will pull someone in and separate the piece from others on the topic.

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