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net.TUTOR: Evaluating Web Sites

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11. Evaluating Web Sites: Clues to recognition from others

Checking to see whether others have linked to a web site or tagged or cited it lets you know who else on the web recognizes the value of the site's content. Reader comments and ratings can also be informative about some sites you may be evaluating, such as blogs.

Those links, tags, bookmarks, citations, and positive reader comments and ratings are evidence that other authors consider the site exemplary.

Exactly what individuals and organizations are doing the linking, tagging, citing, rating and commenting may also be important to you. There may be some company you'd rather your site not keep! Or, maybe the sites that link to the one you're evaluating may help solidify your positive feelings about the site.

Don't let an absence of links, tags, citations, ratings, and comments damn the site in your evaluation. Perhaps it's just not well-known to other authors. The lack of them should just mean this factor can't add any positive or negative weight to your eventual decision to use the site - it's a neutral.

Click for clues about recognition from others:

1. Find sites that link to a particular URL
For Google and Yahoo!, in the search box enter:
  • link:[URL of known site]
  • Example: link:www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

For Google Advanced Search:

  1. Click the plus sign to open the full Advanced Search form.
  2. Scroll down to Page Specific Tools.
  3. Enter the URL in the box labeled Find pages that link to the page.

2. Find public bookmarks for the site
Find public bookmarks for the site you're evaluating on sites such as Delicious.

For Delicious:

  • Enter the site title or the URL in the search box at the top of the page.
  • Look to find out how many people have tagged this site.

3. Find reactions to a blog
Technorati is a useful tool for finding out more about blogs and bloggers. For each blog that is mentioned on Technorati, a figure called an authority rating is calculated to reflect what Technorati considers the blog's influence in the blogosphere, based on how many other sites link to it (within an unspecified amount of time), among other data. A blog's overall authority rating is calculated, as well as its rating within its Technorati category. A rating of 1,000 is the highest authority rating.

From Technorati's home page:

  1. Click the Blogs (not Posts) tab to the left of the search box.
  2. In the search box, enter the blogger's name or the title of the blog.
  3. In the list that appears, click on the title of the blog to get more information.

4. Find citations of an article
There is no simple way to find every source that cites an article in a popular magazine, a blog, or a scholarly journal. The peer review of most articles undergo before publication in a scholarly journal lets you know they're considered worth publishing by other scholars, but you might also be interested see to what extent an article has been used by other researchers after it was published. (That use is what necessitates their citation.) But keep in mind that there may not be any citations for very new popular magazines, blogs, or scholarly journal articles.

For articles published in popular magazines or on blogs:

  • In the search box of a search engine like Google, enter the title of the article in quotes. The resulting list should show you the original article you're evaluating, plus other sites that have mentioned it in some way. Click on those that you want to know more about.
  • Here's an example using Google for a blog article called Authority in the Age of the Amateur by Ellyssa Kroski.

For articles published in scholarly journals:

  • In the search box of Google Scholar, enter the title of the article in quotes.
  • In the results list, find the article you're evaluating. (Many articles have the same titles.)
  • Look for the number of citations in the lower left of the listing for your article.
  • If you want more information on the authors who have done the citing, click on the citation number for a clickable list of articles or papers and get the names of authors to look up at the end of the articles or with a search engine. (This is a good way to discover more articles about your topic, too.)

  • Use specialized citation databases Web of Science and Scopus (both OSU only) to find where an article or author has been cited.

 

 

Make the inference: Consider the clues. Then decide the extent to which the site's recognition from others is acceptable for your purpose. It might help to grade the extent to which this factor contributes to the site being a suitable on a scale like this one:

 

 

 

You'll want to make a note of the web site's grade for recognition so you can combine it later with the grades you give the other factors.

Practice

Use Google Advanced Search to determine how many sites have made links to these sites:

  • www.ipl.org
  • www.goaskalice.columbia.edu

 

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