Questionable Sites on the Web
The following websites have been selected because they are intentionally or unintentionally designed to misinform or promote bias or prejudice. Sometimes the objective is humorous; other times the purpose is malicious. These websites warn us that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspaper or on the Web!
Take all of them with a pinch of salt!
Classical Gas--Feline Reactions to Bearded Men
Check out the 28 Web Site Evaluation links that Mrs. Gardner has collected to show that "ANYTHING can be posted to the Web!"
For example, there is a website "devoted" to Dr. Martin Luther King which just happens to be devoted to disparaging him. We'll not go to the website now because that would simply increase the number of hits the website gets, which in turn will increase its likelihood of coming out at the top of a search engine such as Google's list. But at least let's take a closer look at the organization which sponsors the page in question.
To make a judgment about the quality of the information presented at a website, it's important to consider the author. Sometimes it takes some detective work to find out who's responsible. In the case of this Martin Luther King website, when you click on the link to contact the Webmaster, you discover that your e-mail is addressed to vincent.breeding@.
This doesn't tell you much. Better probe further...
Let's check out stormfront.org--that's a website address (URL). How can you tell it's a website address? The .org is a giveaway, like .com or .edu. Let's click on the link -- http://www.stormfront.org -- and take a closer look at who we're dealing with....
Hmmmmm... Interesting, huh?....
Something else you can do is find out who else links to a website such as this. Altavista (http://www.altavista.com) has a neat tool which you can use to get a list of all the web pages that link to a particular website. Here's what you do:
Go to www.altavista.com
In the search box type link://www.stormfront.org
Click on the Search button
Scan through the list of websites that Altavista has found and you'll quickly get a sense of the kind of people interested in promoting disinformation about Martin Luther King, or anyone for that matter -- maybe even you....
...and that's pause for thought.
As you can see, it really is important for teachers to help their students learn to evaluate websites. This is called information literacy, and in an Information Age it's probably the most important skill of all.
Acknowledgments are due to members of the TechTrainers listserv and to Mike Scott of Tom Snyder Productions, who suggested the web sites listed above.
© Bernie Poole, Beckie Randall 1996-2006, All rights reserved / email@example.com / (814) 269-2923 / Revised September, 2008