by Allen Leigh, contributor
The Internet is a valuable source of information. With a few clicks or touches, a person can find information that formally was available only through hours of searching in libraries and technical journals. However, data found via the Internet contains a lot of unreliable data mixed with relatively few good data. I’m not an expert in using the Internet to find data; I’m just an individual trying to extract reliable data from the data found in websites, and I thought I’d post a few things I look for in my searches for reliable data; I hope others will post additional things they look for in searching the Internet.
- Is the website or article from a source that is likely to have objective data. There are many blogs, for example, that make claims for or against particular ideas, but many (perhaps most) of those blogs are maintained by persons who do not objectively have access to good data, and the maintainers of the blogs are merely repeating statements take from manufactures specs or from other blogs.
- Are articles signed and dated? It’s important to know who wrote the articles, so we can try to determine if those authors have the educational credentials and/or experience to write the things they are saying. Also, depending on the subject matter, recent articles may be more important than older articles.
- Do the websites/journals have a history of being unbiased in their presentation of data? If not, then we must be critical of the statements made in those sources.
If you disagree with particular aspects of the criteria I’ve listed above, or if you have additional things you look for in websites and journal articles, please explain yourself in comments to this post. This will help us benefit from your experience with Internet data.