Web Site Evaluation: Example Sites

Rebecca Jackson, Iowa State University Library

Sites for discussing various evaluation criteria:

Sites to discuss Authority

Sites to discuss Purpose Sites to discuss Content

Sites to discuss Currency and Coverage

Sites to discuss Objectivity

Obvious Hoax Xites

Sites by topic:






Attention Deficit Disorder

Civil War



Dow Chemicals


English Only

Genetically Modified Crops

Global Warming and Environment

Government and Politics






Martin Luther King, Jr.


Nutrition and Fitness

Red Shift


Science, General

Smoking and Tobacco Sites

Social Issues

World Trade Organization

Sites in alphabetical order:

Absolution Online
Pretty obvious why this one works. Definitely a hoax.

ADD--Attention Deficit Disorder
Who are these people? Is the information objective?

Adobe Systems Inc.
Typical company site. How easy is it to find information on it?

A hoax site, but if students are not careful, they may get taken in. Especially when they notice that the page includes documentation.

This one looks pretty good. It is an ".org" rather than a ".com." The leadership looks authentic and knowledgeable. Documents on the site are dated and look fairly current. But do they have an agenda? And what about their calls for donations?

All about multiple personality disorder. . . .
What is this site trying to do? What information is it giving?

Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
Obviously a hoax, but it sure looks real. Even has a created and revised date. If you click on the creator, you see a whole lot of weird stuff.

American Cancer Society
Compare this site with other cancer sites. This one appears much more current and authoritative. Is it objective?

The American Civil War Home Page
This one is a little more complicated. It was created by one person who is a Civil War buff, but much of his material includes citations for where he got the information. Much of it is also his own musings. For factual information, users would want to check other sources to verify the information. Currency of information on this web site is probably not essential.

The American Civil War Homepage
This one was obviously put together by a history scholar. But it looks like it hasn't been updated in a while, and many of the resources are questionable.

American Lung Association
Again, as an .org, this one is probably legitimate. Another good site for discussing objectivity.

Americans for Cloning Elvis
Is this for real? They are asking for donations!

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
This looks legitimate, but there are a lot of links, and I'm not sure I would trust all of them. This is obviously a site with an agenda to push.

Angel on Death Row
The organization sponsoring this site, NPR, has a reputation for being fairly reliable. And since it is pro and con, they are obviously trying to give a balanced perspective. The sources for their arguments are certainly authoritative. The site has not been updated in quite a while, however, and the cites themselves are fairly old.

Anti-Aging and Longevity Project
This site has a lot of information, and it does cite some studies. However, if you look at the project developer, it is a registered nurse. There is really no organization that seems to endorse this therapy. Again, it is selling something. Also, it is not dated.

Asia Pacific Research Online
The creator of this site, Dr. Mathew Ciolek, is a scholar in the field of Asian and Pacific Studies at Australian National University, which probably means that his site is probably authoritative. He links to information about himself and his C.V. Based on the statistics shown at the bottom of the page, it is probably up-to-date. The links that are not to papers of his own are links to the WWW Virtual Library, which is recognized as authoritative. I would guess that you'd want to back up information on this site with info from other similar sites.

Asian Studies WWW
This is a part of the WWW Virtual Library, created by the same person as the previous site. It was updated recently. Nothing to sell. This is probably a pretty good site for an overview.

A site the "provides one-on-one personal spiritual guidance to people of all backgrounds" though its focus is obviously Jewish. Offers real-time chat. Also has a database of information and previously asked questions. The knowledge base obviously shows that questions are answered with the Jewish religion foremost. Interesting site, but I would not call it authoritative except in questions of the Jewish faith. Note that this is a .com, and does include a store, so there is obviously someone selling something.

Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity Success
This site is sponsored by a company selling all-natural healing products. The articles cited on it look to be real and the articles written for the site appear to be written by doctors. However, this site does have a bias--natural healing rather than traditional drug therapies.

One of the many car-buying sites on the internet. The company has no biases that can be discovered in terms of makes of car, but obviously they want to be the one to sell you a car. Lots of good information including consumer review, pricing information on all types of cars, and financing information.

Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide
A hoax site that looks perfectly believable. However, it has no links to verify the information it provides, nor is there any link which tells about the organization sponsoring the site. The only date available is 1995-96.

A good example of a web site with a message. It's sponsored by the Cattlemen's Beef Board. Includes lots of information, specifically targeted to health professionals, nutrition communicators, and nutrition and health media. But of course, it is pro-meat.

Bioethics and Cloning
From the American Journal of Bioethics and the University of Pennsylvania, this would be a scholarly site for bioethics research.

Biotech Knowledge Center
Who sponsors this site and what is their agenda?

Black Market Babies
Obviously a hoax site, but good for reminding people what to look for in evaluation.

Boilerplate:  Mechanical Marvel of the Nineteenth Century
You really have to dig to find that this site is a hoax from start to finish. Very clever.

A brief synopsis of The Lord of the Rings
A very sarcastic synopsis and not one you'd want your students using. Again, consider this would come up on a Google search.

British  Stick Insect Foundation
Another hoax site that looks like it could be real. However, there is no link to the British Stick Insect Foundation.

Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library
Another WWW Virtual Library site written by Cioluk.

Bunny Survival Tests Home Page
Another hoax site set up as a scientific experimental site. A good example of a site with no real value.

Burmese Mountain Dog
Well, this one looks pretty good. Even says it's from the Burmese Mountain Dog Club. However, there is no actual link to the club, and if you know anything about dogs, you know there is not Burmese Mountain Dog--it's Bernese Mountain Dog.

Buy Dehydrated Water
I'll leave it to you to figure out whether this one is legitimate.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Although this is a legitimate organization with lots of good information on its site, it is still pushing an agenda and asking for contributions.

Children and Television Violence--Abelard
Who is Abelard? He/she might be someone qualified to speak on this subject, but based on his/her own bio information, it's very hard to say.

China:  Environmental Issues
This one is from our government and is from a reliable source. However, look at the date on the top--July 2003. It has not been updated for over a year.

China's Health and Environment:  Air Pollution and Health Effects
Although this one comes from what looks like a reliable, scholarly organization, the date on the study is 1998.

Christian Women's Wrestling
This one is pretty obviously a hoax.

The CIA and Radiation
First the URL is suspicious--a company and a ~pinknoiz author. Although the report looks legit, with footnotes and all, there is no way to check anything. And no links to the sponsoring body or creator.

The Civil War
Even though this one is sponsored by a company, it looks pretty reliable. It has lots of info and lots of links.

The Civil War Home Page
Billed as the most comprehensive site for information on the Civil War. However, the author doesn't state any credentials.

Clear Picture, Blurry Story
Compare to the Redshift article below. The sponsor of this article is Day 4, an evangelical Christian astronomical society. Do they have a point of view different from the scientific one on the other Red Shift article?

Click Monkeys!!
Another spoof commercial site.

Clones R Us
Obviously a hoax, but an example of what a search on Google would retrieve.

From a reputable resource, the articles cited are recent. This one looks like it's legit.

This one looks like it's for young folks--K-12.

Cloning Is Moral
This site on cloning is from the Ayn Rand Institute. Watch for bias.

A hoax dressed up to look real.

Obviously a known source with a good reputation and up-to-the-minute news. Content must be current.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
We do find out about the sponsor of this site, but we also know they have an agenda to push.

Coca-Cola Company
A typical company website. What can you find on it?

Consumer Reports Online
Another reliable source for consumer information. Good for discussing objectivity.

This is just one source for news and one that should probably go at the bottom of the list.

If you're looking for both sides of the issue, this is definitely the place to go. Lots of links. However, the editor is not a religious or scientific authority, and of course there is an agenda.

Dihydrogen Monoxide
Hmmmmmmm . . . . Is it or isn't it? A good site for talking about authority and reasonableness.

Dow--A Chemical Company of the Global Playground
Did you know that Dow is responsible for the birth of the modern environmental movement? Check out some of the links. It's important to note the different URL from the real Dow site.

Dow Chemical Company
The leading maker of chemicals for warfare and for pesticides, see what they have to say about their ethics.

Dr. Egilman on Plutonium Experiments
This is just like the one above--The CIA and Radiation. Looks good, but no way to check the sources. If you cut off part of the URL you find that Pink Noise is actually a design studio, but they have a political stance and they cite political views on their company website.

Driver's License Search
Easy to get hooked on this one.

EarthSave International
This looks like a legitimate organization and has lots of links. Again, it is definitely pushing a particular point of view.

Given the sponsors of this site, how reliable or biased is this information. And how complete?

A political education group with an agenda. It does look legitimate and the credentials of the involved people look very good.

Emergency Contraception--The Morning After Pill
What is the American Life League and what is their agenda? Compare with the Plan B sites below.

The English Only Movement
This page is sponsored by the former executive director of the National Association for Bilingual Education. What would be his point of view of The English Only Movement?

Enjoying Hamlet by William Shakespeare
An interesting site, but written by an M.D. What is his authority as a Shakespeare expert?

Environmental Protection Agency
If you can trust the government, you can trust this site.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) and Second Hand Smoke Links
An organization for the rights of nonsmokers. Lots of good links. Contrast with a pro-smoking group.

Essays on Hamlet
Basically a site for downloading hundreds of essays on Hamlet--a paper mill??

Eternal Life
Snake oil? I'll bet some people are taken in by this, as for diet pills and other such nonsense.

The Evolution of the Conservation Movement
From the Library of Congress's American Memory Project, a good source of information on the subject.

Facts about . . . series
This one is great fun. Facts about Einstein, the Civil War, Huckleberry Finn. However, consider that students could find any one of these if they did a Google search.

Exercise:  A Healthy Habit to Start and Keep
From the American Academy of Family Physicians, this site is probably to be trusted. If you trust conventional medicine. Lots of information about exercise and health.

Families Against Internet Censorship
We may agree with the sentiments, but will we really get a balanced picture from this site?

Feline Reactions to Bearded Men
An old favorite hoax site. One of the first disguised as a real research document, with documentation included. A good example of teaching for checking links.

First Male Pregnancy
From the same "Medical Center" that gave us Clyven.

Fitness Jumpsite
This site was compiled by two fitness enthusiasts. There are probably some good links and it's probably a good consumer type of site, but not good for scholarly information.

Focus on the Death Penalty
This site was established by the Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage for educational purposes. It claims to take no sides. Very good.

Forces International
When you first read the description of this organization, it sounds like it's a pro-choice group (meaning pro-abortion). What it really is is an organization "campaigning against irrational bans, and misinformation effecting [sic] consumers' right to choose. One of their prime targets is the "politically correct" position taken across the country against smokers.

Friends of the Earth
An organization that fights for the environment. Looks legitimate. Does have a point of view.

Fur Shame!
This site is sponsored by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and so if definitely one-sided.

GAO on Military Chemical Testing
Pink Noise again.

Gender and HIV/AIDS
From the United Nations Development Fund for Women, this site has lots of good information and links.

General Delivery University
America's only Genuine Diploma Mill.

From the folks who gave us Clyven, "create your own genetically healthy child online."

The Giant Octopus Web Page
Compare this with the Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus page.

Global Warming Central
Pace University Law School has compiled this website for students and scholars. Legit.

Global Warming in the Third World--Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary
Put together by a university school of environmental science and two institutes for the environment, this is a good site.

Godsend Institute
Is this a legitimate organization?
Greening of the Anti-Immigrant Agenda
A link from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, I see no documentation for the assertions in the article, nor do I see a date on it.

A fun listing of all kinds of weird facts. Are they true? What's the source of the information?

GunCite: gun control and Second Amendment issues
Who sponsors this site? How long since it's been updated?

Hamlet and his problems
From Bartleby's great books online, this is a critique of Hamlet from T.S. Eliot.

Health & Fitness
PageWise, the sponsor, is another site like About.com. Offers answers and links on all kinds of question. Probably the information is not harmful, but it is certainly not scholarly. And the last date I see on the site is 2002.

Health Hazards of Tobacco
This one comes from the World Health Organization, so it should be a good source. But you go right into an article with no WHO heading and no citations for the facts that are stated.

Hiroshima: was it necessary?
Although it looks like there might be some useful information here, who is Doug Long????

HIV Infection and AIDS
This one is very confusing, but I'm sure it would come up in a Google search. It appears to be a text for the Complete Home Medical Guide from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, but if you go to the College website, you cannot find it listed on the website, so there is no explanation about it.

Holocaust Denial or Holocaust Revisionism
We have all heard about holocaus denial or revisionsism. This site is from the man who brought us the book "The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry." Of course, the man is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which does not make him an expert in any field but that.

How State Laws Measure Up
From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this site rates laws on DUI/DWI, young driver licensing, safety belt use, child restraing use, motorcycle helmet use, and use of red light cameras in the various U.S. states. They are rated Good, Fair, Msrginal, and Poor, and an explanation is given for each rating for each type of law. A good example of a site that does something pretty unique.

Human Cloning FAQ
Believe it or not, this is a real site. However, the FAQ has no documented facts, and it is definitely pushing a point of view.

Human Cloning Foundation
Another real organization promoting the benefits of human cloning. How factual?? I'll let you judge.

Human Test Subjects
Another from Pink Noise. Good illustration of determining who is the author. Can we find a date?

From Tufts University, this is a site for scholars.

Indoor Air Quality
From the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this site has lots of links to good information on indoor pollution and how to treat it. The main page says that content hasn't been updated since December, 2000.

A journalism website on inequality. Lots of links with lots of information.

Insect Rights Activists
Obviously a parody, which the disclaimer at the bottom of the page explains. Why else would they have an ad for Terminix at the top of the home page?

Institute for Historical Review
Although this looks like a scholarly association, it is really a front for an advocacy group with lots of propaganda on Holocaust revisionism.

Institute for Historical Review: Outlet for denial propaganda
Compare this site, from the Anti-Defamation League, with the above website from the IHR.

Is the Food Supply Improving?
Is their any significance to the fact that this is a commercial site?

The Jackalope Conspiracy
Clearly a hoax, but cute.

Joe Boxer
This one shows up frequently on lists for fashion and design.

Kelvinic University
The URL along gives this site away.

The King Center
This is a valid source of information on King.

Ladies Against Women
This is a good one for discussions of advocacy and objectivity.

The essay looks legitimate with documentation, but who is the author?

Martin Luther King, Jr.:  A True Historical Examination
This is a perfect example of a site that looks to be legitimate, but look at the sponsor of the site-- a major white supremicist organization.

Mattell Announces New Barbie and New Ken Doll
This could easily come up on a search of the Mattel company, but it's actually an example page from a professor at the University of Minnesota.

McWhortle Enterprises
Looks interesting, but look at the testimonials names.

Melatonin Central
A company site is probably not the best place to find objective information about a product.

Microwaves and Mind Control
Another Pinknoiz site. Can you locate the Electronic Surveillance Project?

Moonbeam Enterprises and the Lunar Travel Agency
Who authored this website, and is there any information that supports their claims?

National Abortion Federation
This one is linked from many, many websites, and is a good site for information on abortion, but keep in mind that it will show only one side of the issue.

National Abortion Rights Action League
Very similar to the the National Abortion Federation site. A good site for discussing objectivity.

National Anti-Vivisection Society
Another good example of an advocacy page.

National  Bioethics Advisory Commission
This one looks like a good place to go.

National Democratic Party
This is the real thing, but obviously not objective.

National Republican Party
The opposite side of the political spectrum, at least for the U.S.

National Right to Life Committee
Another advocacy website. What are the facts found at this site?

New Invention Allows Humans to Live Forever
Puh---leeeeeeze. Who is the authority on this? Are there links to other sites that support this claim?

No Smoke Home Page
How accurate is this site? Who is the creator and what are the credentials? How do we know the sites mentioned actually have installed the software?

How would you determine the authenticity of this corporation?

Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Most people would think that this is the most authoritative site for this type of information. But is it really better than other sites with a bent toward vegetarianism or other alternative types of diets?

This may be one they haven't heard of, but it's a great site with lots of valuable info.

Official English? NO!
From the TESOL Sociopolitical Concerns Committee. Compare with the other English language sites.

A good site for discussions of accuracy and authority.

The Onion
Probably a lot of people know about this fractured news source. It does bill itself as "America's finest news source." Another good site for talking about authority and reasonableness.

Organic Consumers Association
Compare this with the Biotech Knowledge Center.

The Ova Prima Foundation
A fun site, looks authentic, dealing with research supporting the notion that the egg came before the chicken.

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Obviously a hoax--or is it?

Panel Report: Human Radiation Experiments
This looks like it comes from a legitimate journal, but you can't find that out for sure.

Paul's Research Interests
When was this page last updated?

Philadelphia Inquirer
What is the reputation of this paper? How easy is it to use?

Physicians for Social Responsibility
An advocacy website. Though the members are all professionals, are they qualified to comment on all these issues?

Plan B Consumer Home Page
As with any company promoting its own product, how much can the information here be trusted?

Plan B Tablets Information
From the FDA, compare with the site above on Plan B.

Planned Parenthood of America, Inc.--Emergency Contraception
Planned Parenthood is a trusted organization. How does their information compare to the Plan B information in the other two sites?

Who are the people who sponsor this site? They give their agenda, but how trustworthy is the information on the site?

Project Vote Smart
A good site for discussing objectivity.

Puppy Tips
What is this info being used for? If it's for research purposes, can the information be verified by other sources?

A very interesting site to help searchers for consumer medicine sites evaluate what's what.

Retail Tobacco Dealers of America
Obviously an organization with a bias.

Rethinking AIDS
Quite an unusual take on science and the AIDS epidemic.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco--Smoking and Health
How reliable can the information on this page be?

This article reads like science, but there are very few references and we have no idea what the Electric Cosmos.org is.

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Nutrition--Basic Nutrition Advice
Who's Rob? Check him out with the link at the bottom of the page. But actually, the information on this page is pretty good!

Role of the Media in Tobacco Control
The CDC should be a realiable source, but look at how old this page is. And what information are we really getting?

Roslin Institute
Another reliable resource for information on cloning.

RYT Hospital
This looks like a legitimate site, but look at the features at the top of the page. This is where we get the pages on GenoChoice and the first male pregnancy.

Another hoax site for those animal people.

School Prayer
Another hot-button issue with lots of advocate organizations on either side. A good site for discussing content.

Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Cloning

Secondhand Smoke
Surprisingly, this site looks pretty useful, considering it's from a tobacco company.

Secondhand Smoke--The Big Lie
Who is the author and what is his evidence? Is this an objective site?

Sellafield Zoo
Another hoax site, focused on nuclear power plants and their effects.

Should Human Cloning Be Banned?
This one makes it very easy to find out the credentials of the authors.

A fairly well-known, respected internet zine.

Smoking From All Sides
Who is the author? How accurate is the content? Is it objective?

Snow Job
This one doesn't look too fancy, but it comes from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), and reputable organization. However, check out the date.

Sounds legitimate. It's really a sex site.

Society for Scientific Exploration
Check out their mission and then try to figure out what their point of view is and how legitimate they really are.

Sojourner Truth
Although this comes from and .edu site, we have no idea from the page who the author is.

SparkNotes Hamlet
A Cliff's Notes from Barnes & Noble.

Strawberry Pop-Tart Blow Torches
Another hoax site posing as research.

Taxonomy of Barney
The evolution of dinosaurs???

The Time Travel Fund
This is a hard one to determine, but it is a hoax.

Timothy Burke's Home Page
How much can you rely on a blog?

Tobacco Control Archives
Why is this site likely to be authoritative and accurate?

The Truth
Well, this may be a credible site, and it may appeal to youth, but it's very difficult to find out anything about the hosts.

From the United Nations, so the information is probably authoritative.

U.S. English, Inc.
Who is the sponsor of this site? What is their agenda?

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Who is the sponsor of this site? Probably a site good for research on the holocaust.

Urban Air
Look at the date on this. And, is this a site for selling a book, or what?

Urban Legends and Folklore
Have students take the Image Quiz. Take it yourself!

USA Today
Depending on your views of USA Today, this is at least a national news source. A good example for teaching currency.

Did you know velcro was a crop? Seriously, this one is good for teaching authority, accuracy, reliability.

Vice Fund
OK--this one is real. You can actually invest in vice. But remember, there is a bias here.

The Victorian Web
This one looks like a valuable resource. Why? A good site for discussing authority and .org vs. .com or .net.

Virusmyth AIDS HomePage
Who is the author? Is he (are they) qualified? An alternative AIDS page.

Was Hiroshima Necessary?
The Institute for Historical Review, the sponsor of this site, is one of the most famous holocaust denial organizations. Be wary of anything published by them.

White House (alternative)
What is the first clue that this is not the actual web site?

White House (official)
And how do you know this one is?

White Poison:  The Horrors of Milk
What qualifies the author on this topic? A good site for discussing content.

WHO HIV/AIDS Programme
Again, the World Health Organization is a reputable organization, so this site would be good.

How can you believe anything on this site if the creator wants to remain anonymous.

The World Trade Organization
The fake site

World Trade Organization
The real site. Notice how similar the two sites are.

WorldNet Daily
What is the bias of this one?

Wynnie's Urban Oasis
Who is Wynnie and can what she says about gardening be verified?

The Yes Men
Why are these men famous?

Rebecca Jackson
12/2004, Revised 4/06