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EMP Program Orientation: Using the Internet

Google and Wikipedia

Google and Wikipedia will help you find information on the Internet. Google is an Internet search engine. It will find websites for you. Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia.  It contains lots of information about lots of topics. But you need to be careful when using these tools.

Google will just find sites for you. It will not tell you whether or not those sites are accurate, unbiased, or current. Google also cannot tell you whether or not a website is useful to you, for your project. Just because a website comes up in a top ten Google results list doesn't mean that the information is useful for you. You must evaluate web sites before you use any information from them.

Wikipedia can be useful to help you get started finding information. But because anybody can edit a Wikipedia page, you have to take information you find there with a grain of salt. Wikipedia should never be used as more than a starting place for getting some background information, and then only as one of many. Always check Wikipedia facts against what you are finding elsewhere, and never cite Wikipedia entries.

For a funny take on why you should be careful about using Wikipedia, watch this clip from the Colbert Report TV show.

Evaluating Web Sites

Pay attention to the kind of information you are looking at, and think critically about what you see.  Is the website you are looking at new or old? A blog or major news outlet? A commercial site? You will have different uses for different kinds of information.

Guides to evaluating web content: