Why bother evaluating sites and sources? Because the quality of information varies tremendously. Anyone can register for a site and post whatever they want and most sites don't employ fact checkers or editors.
Besides, your instructor told you that you needed to use reliable and/or scholarly information for your assignment, right? Gossip blogs and sensational news can be fun to read while in line at the grocery store, but you don't want to use them to write your final paper or help you make major life decisions. Evaluating what you find on the web is always a good idea.
Checklists are helpful, but may not be sufficient to effectively evaluate the credibility of a webpage. Finding what other people think about a page and verifying who owns a page's registration is a better strategy. This is often called reading laterally.
WHOis is a tool that you can use to determine the ownership and registration of a page. Or, if a page contains a sensational claim, you can test the claim by using a fact checking site like snopes.com.
For more tips on evaluation of sources - take a look at the e-book Web literacy for student fact-checkers by Mike Caulfield.
Has your instructor asked you to find scholarly articles and you're not sure what that means? Check below for a quick overview. More tips for determining scholarly vs popular sources are available here.
EX: The American Journal of Nursing
EX: The New York Times, The Economist
NOTE: remember to check if the piece you're reading is an editorial/op-ed (meaning, opinion) or a piece of journalism, based on research & facts.
EX: People, Sports Illustrated
EX: The National Enquirer
A lot of us get our news when scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media platform you prefer. That's not a bad thing, but every social media platform has a spectrum of users and the quality of the information posted will vary dramatically.
It's up to you to determine if the links you click and the blogs you follow are reliable, based in fact, and able to withstand scrutiny. Or, if the information is fake news.
When you search for information, you're going to find lots of it... but is it good information?
You will have to determine that for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help.
The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.
C - Currency: is it timely?
R - Relevance: is it relevant?
A - Authority: who authored it?
A - Accuracy: is it correct?
P - Purpose: why was it written?
.edu / .gov / .mil / .int : Educational, government, military, or international & intergovernmental sites. These are usually reliable.
.org : Tend to be advocacy sites/non-profit organizations. Often ok, watch for bias.
.com : Commercial (for profit) sites, anyone can register for a .com address. Be careful and read closely!
.me / .news / .guru / etc. : Treat these newer domains like .coms.
.net : Alternative to .com, treat similarily.
.uk / .de / etc. : Used for other countries (the UK and Germany, in this case). The quality of sites ending with a country code varies greatly, you'll have to use your other evaluation skills to help determine reliability!
"How to Spot Fake News", from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
"Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Fake News Edition" from WNYC's On the Media
"The CRAAP Test", from the Meriam Library, California State Universiy, Chico
"A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science" by Compound Interest