5 Determiners of a Good Web Source

Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash

There are a lot of debates going on these days and a lot of people acting like journalists without having had the schooling associated. As someone who thrives on the freedom to do this, I want to empower every budget journalist out thereby helping them do what is arguably the most important thing in sharing information: checking sources.

Why should I care about checking sources?

Before we begin, I want to explain why checking sources is so important. After all, if you are just a casual reader, what does it matter if you repost a bad source? Isn’t that your given right?

It’s true that there is no law preventing people from spreading disinformation. We could discuss for hours whether or not it is someone’s responsibility to tell the truth, but for the sake of this article let’s just focus on how you benefit from posting sources.

The Benefits of Posting Sources

  1. You become more trustworthy. People are more likely to trust someone who posts even fake news sources than someone who doesn’t post any at all.
  2. You may gain a following. People don’t like how much effort it takes to find the truth. The more work you do to find good sources, the more likely it is others will follow your work. Just don’t let it get to your head.
  3. Your arguments can upgrade into intellectual debates or even constructive discussions. If you have something you want to prove and you did the work, opposing ideas will be forced to put in at least as much work as you did. This helps all individuals involved have higher-quality information to work with and may shed a lot of light on the subject.

There’s a lot of benefit to research, and it’s always worth the time to do it. If you have that time, let’s now go over how to check your internet sources:

How to Determine if Your Website Source is a Good Source

Determiner 1: Know your website addresses.

.com, .net, and .org are for companies and organizations. (.org used to be for nonprofits only but that is no longer the case!)

.edu is for education, .gov is for government,.int is for international government, .mil is for military. There are a lot more, but this is one of the easiest ways to know the background of the website.

Determiner 2: Check the copyright.

Most websites will have a copyright at the bottom of the site. This will tell you who owns the site and is therefore responsible for the information it is claiming. You can look up simple information about these businesses on Wikipedia, dnb.com, or any other info-gathering site, to get you started on your investigation. You may find out that your article about how Mcdonald’s burgers are best was actually posted by a publishing company owned by Mcdonalds. Always check for those biases and potential conflicts of interest.

Determiner 3: Check the sources of your source

If your source is a compilation of information that doesn’t have its own sources listed, it’s not a good source, period. If it does, give a few of them a good check. You may want to share one of the original sources instead because the best source is the one closest to a primary source.

Determiner 4: Check the author

Most articles list the author and one or two things about them. Don’t be afraid to look into the author’s credentials to see if they may have any biases. If you really want to be thorough you can see if they have any public social media feeds you can read too.

Determiner 5: Check the dates

A lot of people miss this crucial tip, but dates make a huge difference. Articles that are really old might no longer be accurate or relevant and articles written too soon after an event may be more speculation than fact. If your article is really old you may want to check that it wasn’t disproven or reiterated in a more recent one.

Finally: Remember that nothing contains the whole truth.

The goal of sharing sources isn’t to 100% prove something (or, at least, it shouldn’t be). The goal is to back a claim as best as you can with the information available. It’s always possible to be wrong, but truth leaves evidence, so the more sources available to back you up the more credible your claim is.

Best of luck to all of you in your debates. May we all find the truth together.

Other Source-Checking Guides:

Further Reading:

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I’m a writer, researcher, and UX designer. My main interests are software tech, sociology, philosophy, and futurology.

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I’m a writer, researcher, and UX designer. My main interests are software tech, sociology, philosophy, and futurology.

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