14. Evaluating Web Sites: The Final Inference
Once you've considered the factors used in evaluating a site, it's important to take a look at the inferences you made about them. Now is the time to look at those grades all together - to average them if you've been assigning grades - and to make one more inference.
Taking the grade on each factor into account, can you infer that the site is relevant and credible enough for your purpose? If it isn't, this is one site that can't be helpful in your project. If it is relevant and credible enough, use information from that site with confidence.
Using only information from sources that are relevant and credible enough for your projects pays off in good grades and also in the high opinions of other people who depend on you for information.
As you use this evaluation process, you'll get faster and faster at it. And you'll often be able to rule out a site for some purposes just by its scores in the neighborhood, author/publisher, and/or bias factor(s).
Another thing that will speed up the process is that you'll just automatically start evaluating a site from your first glance at it and won't have to do it all as consciously as we have explained here. Evaluating sources will be a habit of mind - one of the most valuable to be learned at college.
Example: Assume you're writing a term paper and are considering using information from Site XYZ. You ran through the evaluation process as you looked over the site and you made notes about the grades you assigned. The grades you gave individual factors are:
|Degree of bias||A|
|Recognition from others||No grade because there wasn't any evidence and you think others don't know about the site|
|Thoroughness of the content||C|
|Currency of the content||A|
You average the grades (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0), remembering not to include the factor on which you gave no grade. The score was 3.4, about a B, which is a Good, but could be better score on the scale we used in this tutorial. You decide to use information from this site in your project.