The 5 W’s for Accessing Information on the Internet

How can you tell the credible information from the questionable information online? When in doubt look further. Caution is wise in assessing information on the Internet. You can use the 5 W’s, to check your information.

  • Who is the source?
  • When was it created?
  • Where are you?
  • Why are you here?
  • What are you getting?

WHO is the source?

Has anyone taken responsibility for the content of this Web site? Can you verify that the author or sponsor is an authoritative and credible source of information?

WHEN was it created?

Is the data current? Does a reference date show when the material was put online, or when it was last updated? Do the links work?

WHERE are you?

Learn how to understand a Uniform Resource Locator (i.e., URL or “site address”). The URL contains the domain name of the organization or individual hosting the Web site. The type of organization behind a Web site can give some clues to its credibility.

WHY are you here?

Is the Internet a logical place to look for the kind of information you are seeking? Can you get the information faster off-line? Are you able to verify this information?

WHAT are you getting?

Does the site’s information seem complete and well organized? Is the data biased in any way? Does the site offer multiple viewpoints? Are there links to alternative viewpoints?