Smith, Alastair G. (1997) Testing the Surf: Criteria for Evaluating Internet Information Resources. The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 8, no. 3 http://info.lib.uh.edu/pr/v8/n3/smit8n3.html ________________________________________
oLinks made to other resources
oQuality of writing
•Graphic and multimedia design
oRequired computing environment
oBrowsability and organisation
What items are included in the resource? What subject area, time period, formats or types of material are covered? Is the scope stated, e.g through meta information such as an introduction, or only implied? Does the actual scope of the resource match expectations? Aspects of the scope include:
Are all aspects of the subject covered?
To what level of detail in the subject does the resource go?
Is the information in the resource limited to certain time periods?
Are certain kinds of Internet resources (for example telnet, Gopher, FTP) excluded?
Is the information factual, or opinion? Does the site contain original information, or simply links? Sites can be useful both as information resources in themselves, and as links to other information. However users can be frustrated by lists of resources which look promising, but turn out to simply contain more links. Is the resource an integral resource, or has it been abstracted from another source, perhaps losing meaning or links in the process? Specific aspects related to the content include the accuracy, authority, currency and uniqueness of a resource.
Is the information in the resource accurate? You may wish to check this against other resources, or by checking some information about which you have special knowledge. Are there political or ideological biases? The Internet has become a prime marketing and advertising tool, and it is advisable to ask "what motivation does the author have for placing this information on the Net". Frequently the answer is that the information is placed to advertise, or support a particular point of view.
Does the resource have some reputable organisation or expert behind it? Does the author have standing in the field? Are sources of information stated? Is the information verifiable? Can the author be contacted for clarification or to be informed of new information? Examing the URL can give clues to the authority of a source. For instance a tilde "~" usually indicates a personal web directory, rather than part of the organisation's official web site.
How frequently is the resource updated, or is it a static resource? Are dates of update stated, and do these correspond to the information in the resource? Does the organisation or person hosting the resource appear to have a commitment to ongoing maintenance and stability of the resource? Browsers may allow you to view the date of creation and modification of a file (in Netscape View|Document Info). Remember that this may not be the date that the actual information was created or reviewed.
Is the information in this resource available in other forms (for example other sites, Gopher, WWW, print, CD-ROM)? What advantages does this particular resource have? If the resource...