The Internet has revolutionized the publishing and media industries. Anyone with an Internet connection can instantly share their thoughts and opinions with a worldwide audience. The result, according to Google, is that there are well over a trillion unique Web pages [source: Alpert].
Since anyone can publish a Web site, you can never tell where that information comes from. That's not the case: By using a relatively simple set of guidelines, you can evaluate the credibility of information on any Web site.
The first thing you should examine is the Web address itself. Does it end in .gov or .edu? Does it include a person's name? With nothing more than a URL, you already have a good indication of the source of the material.
If the online material is an article, does it include the author's name and publication date? Search the author's name and find out more about his or her experience and expertise. If the article is old, consider whether it covers the kind of information that changes quickly.
If you don't recognize the name of the Web site from an offline publication -- newspaper, magazine or TV show -- read the site's "about" section to find out more. Look for clear signs of bias or commercial interests.
Above all, say the librarians of the University of California at Berkeley, you should approach all online information with "healthy skepticism" [source: UC Berkeley]. Use the same analytical tools you would use to examine any other form of media. In other words, consider the source.