Please read the information on this page before printing out and completing the following exercise on deconstructing webpages.
You must finish all the course links (i.e. Introduction, Stereotyping, Bias and The News) before you attempt this page. Refer to the assessment page if you are unsure about what to do.
The WWWWWHat of Cyberspace
The entire contents below was retrieved from the Media Awareness Network (2007).
The old formula used by police, journalists and researchers for getting the "full" story can be applied in cyberspace, to help identify credible online information sources.
Who is the source of the information?
Has someone taken responsibility for the content of this Web
Is information about the author or organization clearly stated?
Are there any links to in-depth information about the author or organization?
Can you contact the company or author through a real world postal address or
Can you confirm that the company or author is a credible, authoritative source
Can you verify the authority of any of the site's content that is attributed to other sources?
What are you getting?
Is the information biased in any way?
Does the site rely on loaded language or broad, unsubstantiated
Is emotion used as a means of persuasion?
Does the site offer more than one viewpoint?
Are there links to other or alternative viewpoints?
Does the site's information seem thorough and well organized?
Does the site clearly state the topics that it intends to address?
Does it follow through on the information it has promised?
Does the information seem complete? Consistent?
Is the information well written and easy to understand?
Does the Web site offer a list of further in-depth resources or links to such
What's the copyright status of material found on the site?
When was the site created?
Is it important that the information you are seeking be right
up to date?
Is a reference date provided to show when the material was put online, or when
it was last updated?
Do the links work?
Learn to deconstruct a Uniform Resource Locator (better known as a URL or "site address"). Using this URL from the Media Awareness Network as an example:
The "http" notation here indicates that this is a hypertext document (most online documents are in this format). The "www" is short form for the "World Wide Web," where all Web sites reside.
The second part of a URL contains the domain name of the person or organization hosting the Web site - in this case, media-awareness. The ".ca" which follows indicates that the site is hosted by a Canadian institution.
The last section maps out the pathway of directories and sub directories leading to the page you are on. For this particular page on the Media Awareness Network site, "eng/" indicates that you are on the English part of the site. The final URL entry (in this case, the default page for the directory "site_directory") indicates the name of the page or document you have arrived at. "html" or "htm" indicates the code or format a page has been created in.
~ Sometimes you might see a "user"
reference or tilde (~) symbol in a sub
directory, followed by a name. This indicates that you may be on a personal Web page that is being hosted by an ISP (Internet Service Provider).
The type of organization behind a Web site can give some clues to its credibility.
|.gov||In the US, .gov applies to federal departments. In Canada, provincial governments use .gov followed by a provincial abbreviation and .ca.|
|.gc||The federal government in Canada uses .gc in its domain name and in the domain names of many of its departments, such as Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage. However, some departments like Agriculture Canada, at www.agri.ca, opt for just a .ca.|
|.ca||Schools, educational organizations, libraries, museums and some government departments may be registered under a 2-digit country of origin code, such as .ca, .uk or .au.|
|.edu||The United States originally created .edu to indicate American colleges and universities offering 4-year degree programs. Most Canadian universities tend to use .ca.|
|Back in the early days of the Web: .org indicated a wide assortment
of groups, including non-profit organizations; .com indicated commercial
organizations; and .net was intended for organizations directly involved
in Internet operations, such as Internet service providers. Now, anyone
can apply for, and use, these letters in their domain names. For example,
Web site for the YWCA in Calgary, ends with .com, in Vancouver, it ends with .org, and in Montreal, .ca!
Why are you here?
Can I get the information faster off-line?
Does the online material I'm finding suit my needs?
Am I able to verify this information?
How can you tell what's what?
When in doubt, doubt. Skepticism should be the rule of thumb on the Net.
Apply the five W's of cyberspace to the Web sites you visit.
Double-check your facts and sources - and then check them some more!
Use Meta-Web information searches to assess the credibility of Web sites.
This can be done by entering the author's name into a search
engine to conduct a quick background check. Or you can find which sites
link to a specific site by
going to a search engine like Alta Vista and entering a "link:" command in the
Search box, followed by the page's URL.