Web-Resource Criteria (used to fact check a fact-checking website)

Web-Content Criteria:

The 10 second glance

  1. URL:  .gov  (government)  .edu (educational institution)   .mil (military)  .org (non profit)  .com (commercial) or .uk  .br  (country origin)
  2. Author:  Author’s name provided or anonymous?  (Search the author)
  3. Purpose: Teach/Inform/Persuade  or  Sell Product?
  4. Links:  To other relevant information   or  Click Advertisements?

The 60 second scan

  1. Authority:  Biased or Fair?  POV? Profession?  Reputable?
  2. Pass the smell test?  Use your OWN opinions.



After the 1st Presidential debate yesterday and reading CBC, CNN, FOX NEWS, CBS, and BBC articles on the debate — and most news agencies agreeing Hillary won the first contest — I wanted to find a website that argued Donald Trump won the debate.  It took a while but finally at  inforwars.com   I found the one.  A quick look at it, and it has all the professionalism of any network news agency: graphics, related stories, links, video content.  So let’s use the criteria like a High School student would:

Web Based Criteria Evaluation:

  1. URL — .com (commercial) but so are all the other American News Agencies.
  2. Author:  Alex Jones — never heard of him, but his name is listed as the content creator.  A quick google search and almost all the search results claim him to be a conspiracy theorist — warning bells should be ringing.
  3. Purpose:  To fact check — Inform, Teach, Persuade
  4. Links: To other articles that support his position (“Hillary outed as a racist before the debate”) and links to paid content clicks (advertisement).  Most network news agencies have the same click content (some of them identical from site to site).
  5. Authority:  Biased.  Profession: radio host needs to be opinionated.  Reputable?  Not sure.
  6. Does it pass the smell test?  Nope.  One sided fact checking on Hillary only.  The Donald isn’t fact-checked for any of his comments.

Originally I only had the first 4 criteria standards, but infowars.com would’ve passed the test and I knew there was no way this was fair content.  I needed to add the 5th and 6th criteria to probe a little deeper into the content.  Now I’m not sure if the first 4 criteria are even needed — but I’m leaving them for the most obvious untrustworthy sites.



  1. Author
    • Is there an author listed?
      • Is it a person?  Is it an organization?  YES, Alex Jones
      • Can you find more information about this person or organization?  Yes, a quick google reveals that he is a supporter of conspiracy theory, and a right-wing conservative radio host
      • Are their qualifications relevant to the information you’re reading?   Tough question.  In political websites most of them are coming from one of the 2 camps, Republican or Democrat.  If the reader goes in knowing which camp they can understand the author’s perspective.
  2. Funding
    • Who pays for and maintains the website?
      • Check the URL (.gov .edu are most reliable)  Commercial, Radio Show
      • Is there advertising?  YES, pharmaceutical company on Oct 4th, but the advertisement content changes on a weekly basis, atleast in the past 2 weeks.
      • Is if funded by a drug company in the instance of medical resources?
  3. Last Update
    • How current is the information?   CURRENT, Daily updates to political coverage.
  4. Voice/Tone
    • Is a neutral tone applied throughout?  Nope.  Not neutral at all.
    • Is there any biased language that is being used?  Biased towards Trump and Trump supporters.  Most of the articles are not even “NEWS”.  I find CNN doing the same thing recently.   They are so hungry for content that a political supporter attacking a reporter makes news.
  5. Resources
    • When facts/statistics are stated, do they link to the resource they obtained that information from?  Is the link reliable?   No links within the articles
    • CONCLUSION:  Kelly’s web content criteria, though longer, asked several key questions that I did not have in my own criteria.  VOICE/TONE questions were the main differences in evaluating the two criteria.   As a practiced reader disseminating information a quick read of the articles makes it apparent of the political bias and I could detect the tone.   But I wonder if Middle School or High School students could pick up on the bias?  Would teaching about bias put your own bias into the article.  It would be an interesting class.




  • #   mfarooq on 10.01.16 at 1:23 am     Reply

    Website to analyze: http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_treatment/article.htm
    I find your (Delano) criteria quite different from mine so I want to use your criteria to analyze information provided on medicinenet website.
    1. URL — .com (commercial) but many website like Wikipedia use .com as tld. So having .com tld does not necessarily mean their commercial motives.
    2. Author: Robert Ferry Jr., MD— never heard of him, but clicking on this names shows his expertise in the field. A quick google search results show that he is well known Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
    3. Purpose: To fact check — Inform, Teach,
    4. Links: To other articles that support information given on the website.
    5. Authority: Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
    6. Does it pass the smell test? Yes, I think information given on the website are very objective and can be verified from variety of different sources.
    It is very interesting to know that even thought I used quite different criteria to evaluate the medicinenet website but results turned out to be same. I think it is safe to conclude that a trustworthy website will always get good marks if any well-thought criteria is used to assess the website.

  • #   aober on 10.01.16 at 12:47 pm     Reply

    Web-Content Criteria:

    The 10 second glance

    URL: .gov (government) .edu (educational institution) .mil (military) .org (non profit) .com (commercial) or .uk .br (country origin). The url is .org.
    Author: Author’s name provided or anonymous? (Search the author) The author isn’t a specific person but a reputable organization.
    Purpose: Teach/Inform/Persuade or Sell Product? The purpose is to teach, inform, and to create a presence for poetry in current Western culture.
    Links: To other relevant information or Click Advertisements? The links are to other relevant information.

    The 60 second scan

    Authority: Biased or Fair? POV? Profession? Reputable? The authority appears to be fair. Their point of view is to keep poetry relevant and give it a presence. It is a reputable source and profession as they even publish their own magazine on poetry.
    Pass the smell test? Use your OWN opinions. In my opinion it definitely passes the smell test.

    My Reflection:

    I found it quick and easy to use Delano’s questions. They were clear, direct and each question stood on its own (no sub-questions). I liked how he numbered his questions. I didn’t think to include the definitions of URL’s, which I found very helpful, or to ask if there were links to other content. I also like how he provided a suggested timeline for the questions (10 second glance and 60 second scan). Overall, the results for the website’s credibility were the same, however, one difference that we had was asking how recent the content was, or when it was last updated. With that being said, I feel like Delano’s “smell test” might be where he intended to ask this question. Great job Delano! I might be reworking some of my questions for the future thanks to the smooth experience of working with yours.

  • #   Nic on 10.02.16 at 1:09 pm     Reply

    Using Delano’s critical assessment of web pages to further examine my choice of website for media content this is what I’ve found:

    The 10 second glance

    URL: .gov (government) .edu (educational institution) .mil (military) .org (non profit) .com (commercial) or .uk .br (country origin) – didn’t think to use this as part of my criteria; another great way to validate the source!
    Author: Author’s name provided or anonymous? (Search the author) – I was not able to search the author, but did read a lot about the site under the header About Us
    Purpose: Teach/Inform/Persuade or Sell Product? – teach and inform
    Links: To other relevant information or Click Advertisements? – links to many other relevant and useful tools to support educating families, teachers and the public about the importance of developmentally appropriate media consumption
    The 60 second scan

    Authority: Biased or Fair? POV? Profession? Reputable? – fair, proffesional, and reputable
    Pass the smell test? Use your OWN opinions. – high quality, excellent resource Delano’s quick, easy to use assessment criteria to determine validity and appropriate use for webpages was helpful and less onerous than my own. Great to have other options!

  • #   Kelly on 10.02.16 at 2:14 pm     Reply

    Hi Delano,
    I have also decided to use your criteria to evaluate the website I chose (www.lung.ca/copd) and my results were as follows:

    The 10 second glance

    URL: .gov (government) .edu (educational institution) .mil (military) .org (non profit) .com (commercial) or .uk .br (country origin)
    The URL is .ca
    Author: Author’s name provided or anonymous? (Search the author)
    The author is an organization so technically anonymous
    Purpose: Teach/Inform/Persuade or Sell Product?
    To inform/teach
    Links: To other relevant information or Click Advertisements?
    Links are to other relevant information, however only link internally, not externally

    The 60 second scan

    Authority: Biased or Fair? POV? Profession? Reputable?
    Fair, no POV, professional tone
    Canadian Lung Association is reputable and has been in existence since 1900.
    Pass the smell test? Use your OWN opinions.
    The information is factual however has not been updated in several years. Proceed with caution and verifying information with other external sources is recommended to assess relevance in current practice.

    In using your criteria, I think I still come up with the same result but I don’t feel as though it’s critical enough for the material that I would be evaluating. I think it’s a good, quick overview for non-medical resources but for my purposes it doesn’t address when the material was last updated which is extremely important with medical resources as things can change very quickly. “Pass the smell test” was an interesting idea and I think it’s good for people who are use to reviewing material regularly but I wonder if younger students or those not familiar with thinking critically about Internet resources would have the skills/judgement needed to correctly complete this section.
    Overall I think you provided some interesting ideas and added some nice contrast to the discussion.

    • #   ducheckd16 on 10.04.16 at 8:44 am     Reply

      I’m not sure I like my criteria anymore either. Most of the sites pass with it, and many of these sites shouldn’t.

  • #   prohoroffa16 on 10.04.16 at 9:37 am     Reply

    Excellent criteria Delano. They are all very important things to consider when evaluating web sites. I hope you don’t mind if I use it as well.


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