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How Can I Check the Reliability of a Website?

It is important to check the reliability of a website prior to trusting it completely.
Complaints lodged against a given website can usually be found online at the Better Business Bureau and elsewhere.
When a URL begins with https, know that the "s" means secure.
Larger retailers often offer additional credit card protection.
It is generally a good idea to cross reference the material found online across multiple websites.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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Searching the Internet or shopping online often makes people nervous, with good reason. Some sites are not trustworthy and either fail to give accurate information, or fail to provide the goods or services that you paid for. It is therefore important to check the reliability of a website prior to trusting it completely.

Checking the reliability of an informational website, especially when writing papers for school, is a necessity. Some sites can be trusted to give accurate information. However, one way to ascertain the reliability of a website is to search written sources for duplicate information. Additionally, you can look at several sites that all discuss the same topic to be sure the information is consistent.

If you find discrepancies, it is important to evaluate print sources on material to uncover correct information. Print sources should be as up to date as possible so new information, like the development of a new drug or discussion of a recent archaeological find, confirms the website's reliability.

Even well known encyclopedic sites are subject to poor information. On wiki pages, one may find disclaimers. Wikis tend to be policed well by other users, and articles that have made claims not proven by other sources, or that diverge into opinion, usually include disclaimer statements from the wiki. When you find an article that has disclaimers, the reliability of the website is in question, and more research should be done.

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Shopping on the Internet is another area where people are concerned about the reliability of a website. If you are concerned that a website may not be all that it claims, consider checking out its history with the Better Business Bureau. Any complaints lodged against a website can be found online. As well, complaints against individual sellers on sites like EBay can show you whether shopping with a particular vendor is worthwhile.

In general, large shopping websites, or those connected to chain department stores, are likely to be the most reliable. Some of these larger websites do the work for you. For example, certain sites offer you the opportunity to purchase items that are used. These items come from smaller stores. Usually the larger website offers seller ratings which determine whether the stores have, in the past, delivered goods as promised.

Additionally, you can depend on a website when contact with these smaller stores is initiated by the larger merchant. This often means you'll use the larger merchant's shopping cart features, which usually provides additional protection of information, like credit card numbers.

When you don't want information farmed out to other sellers, read the terms & conditions as part of ascertaining the reliability of a website. Most large online vendors offer privacy protection for their clients. Smaller vendors may not offer the same amount of privacy, so terms & conditions agreements should be read carefully, even when they are boring.

Lastly, maintain healthy skepticism about proposed “deals.” If a deal sounds too good to be true, it normally is. The reliability of a website should always be ascertained prior to giving any personal information, especially when offers appear to be scam offers like free laptops or gift cards.

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Discuss this Article

anon940295
Post 5

Another way to 'verify' or 'check out' information is to cut and paste different size 'text snippets' of the information and Google search the snippet in a set of quotation marks. This will locate any other places on the web where that information might be found.

faithstewart
Post 2

I have found that "too good to be true" is often just that. One way I personally make a reliability prediction on a website I am considering using, in addition to the suggestions here, is do search forums and blogs for those who have used it. See what sort of "online buzz" is out there. Sometimes you won't find anything, but often you will. If I see a lot of negatives issues being discussed, I know I should avoid the site.

widget2010
Post 1

So true- the "free" deals often involve filling out about 20 surveys and agreeing to other trials and deals, some of which will send you loads of spam and possible viruses at best, and start charging you money without you realizing at worst. Steer clear of miraculous offers, they are very rarely even moderately like miracles.

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