analyzing internet sites

Length: 3 pgs minimum

Sources: Two

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Internet Sources Evaluation

For this essay you will explore the importance of analyzing internet sites as well as conduct an in-depth analysis of two websites related to your research topic. In class we will discuss many of the evaluative tools we use when determining the reliability of internet sites, including design elements, author/creator credentials, dates, evidence, advertising, tone, user-friendliness, and visual appeal. You will be considering several overall questions, such as: how do I approach website analysis? What tools are most important for me? How does my approach work when applied to actual websites? Here is the structure for your essay.

I. First, consider some larger, more contextual questions: what are the advantages and disadvantages of the internet? Some have spoken of the internet as “democratizing,” or that it enables anyone with access to a computer to share knowledge and opinions—does this have both benefits and drawbacks? Does traditional (or “old”) media incorporate important tests that information must pass in order to be printed or aired? How do many internet sites stand up to these tests?

II. In the second section of your essay, consider your personal views and experiences when it comes to the internet. How do you use the internet in your everyday life? In what ways do you rely on the internet when interested in learning about issues, topics, events, etc? How do you judge websites you come across? What makes you trust these sites or not? How consciously have you thought out your views on the reliability of the internet? In what ways have you made your own voice heard, on any number of issues? Have you made your voice heard via social media, comments sections, blogs, or even your own web site? Do you think you’ve often been naïve in your approach? Use specific examples.

Focus on defining for yourself why it is important to have a thoughtful approach to website analysis and which criteria are essential in doing this analysis and evaluation. Why is it important to think clearly about your approach and criteria? Which criteria seem to be the most important for you, and why?

III. Your third section will focus on specific examples, two websites that you have found, analyzed, and evaluated that concern your research topic. Make sure to give the specific title of each site, but do not use the URL (web address) as the title. Over the course of several paragraphs, lay out your analysis and evaluation, using the principals of comparison-contrast. For example, if you decide to focus on author credentials for one site, make sure to address the same issue for the other. Zero in on particular strengths and weaknesses that you find.

IV. For your conclusion, clearly restate your final verdict regarding the two sites and whether you would recommend either of them to someone interested in your topic, concisely summarizing why you came to your conclusion. How difficult was it to come to a final determination? Do you think it most casual web surfers would come to the same conclusions you have, or do you believe people could be easily mislead by sites about your topic? Include any other overall impressions in the conclusion.

Avoid encyclopedia sites, news sites, newspaper, magazine, or television sites, social media, and message boards, among others. Search for sites in which the creators have a major interest in your topic and have designed their web site around it.

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