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Information Skills Modules

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Websites

Introduction

Websites are frequently JUNK. However, when they are validated:

Websites can help you find

  • catalogs of merchandise
  • company profiles
  • current facts, opinions, data, and pictures related to your topic
  • entertainment news
  • expert advice in all disciplines
  • federal, state, and local government information
  • genealogical information, family histories
  • health and medical information
  • lesson plans, curriculum guides
  • literature
  • music lyrics and sound files
  • news
  • radio and television broadcasts
  • reference material
  • etc...

Websites are

  • electronic pages or groups of pages built by the same person or organization
  • related electronic pages linked to each other and a top-level page
  • constantly changing
  • frequently out of date
  • frequently become extinct

Searching for information on websites

Searching for information on websites can be time consuming, frustrating, and result in no useful information. Nevertheless there are ways to find valid and useful websites that are relevant to your research topic. These include:

  • website indexes such as Infomine
  • search engines and meta search engines (must use a carefully structured search strategy)
  • following links in a validated site

Remember that websites are not uniform and do not conform to standards. There is no guarantee that they contain reliable, accurate, objective, complete, or current information. Make sure that you evaluate websites before you use them. Refer to the modules Evaluating Information and Evaluating Websites to find the criteria for judging websites.

Types of websites

There are many different types of websites. Each has a different purpose. The top-level domain name, a unique name that tells the computer's location, also indicates the type of organization or individual hosting the site. Domain names are continually added. These domain names can give you an indication of the potential validity of the web site's information. (link to web site evaluation module). The most commonly used top-level names in use today are:

  • .com commercial enterprise
  • .edu educational institution
  • .gov U.S. government entity
  • .mil U.S. military entity
  • .net network access provider
  • .org usually nonprofit organizations

Even though websites may appear to have valuable information, always try to corroborate this information in a print source.

In spite of the web's ease of use, there are times when it may be more efficient to use traditional print resources. For example:

  • dictionaries for spelling and definitions
  • almanacs and encyclopedias for basic facts
  • telephone books for phone numbers (web phone directories use year old data)
  • maps for directions (mapping websites aren't always accurate!)
  • library and post office for forms if you have trouble downloading the ones you need

When used properly, websites can provide useful information for research, education, business, and recreation purposes. Always remember, ASK A LIBRARIAN for help if you don't find appropriate websites for your research topic.