Mike Markel's Web Design Tutorial
SECTION 1: Why Evaluate Internet Information
  
To make a persuasive argument, you need to present clear and compelling evidence. With over 36 million sites, the Internet represents an excellent place to find evidence to support your arguments. In fact, with so many sites to choose from you will likely not have a problem finding information.

However, just about anyone with access to a server can post information to the Internet. This ease of access for distributing information is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the Internet allows for more timely and widespread distribution of information. New discoveries can be made available in minutes rather than the months or years required for distribution of print publications. Information on the Internet, in most cases, is not subject to censorship by government agencies or professional associations. This enables a free flow of information and ideas-every voice can be heard.

On the other hand, the speed and ease of publication that the Internet offers may result in the premature release of information. In the rush to make public some findings, some researchers may not follow the rigorous research guidelines established by their professions. Also, since much of the information on the Internet is not reviewed, censored, or evaluated before it is made available, you cannot automatically assume that everything you read on the Internet is accurate, up-to-date, or unbiased. Consequently, when conducting research on the Internet, you must evaluate each of your sources. You are responsible for making sure the evidence you use in your arguments is accurate, unbiased, comprehensive, appropriate, current, and clear.

Often the first site a search engine displays in response to your query will not represent your best source of information. Some search engines, for example, allow owners of sites to buy a number-one ranking. Consequently, do not settle for the first site you find that addresses your topic. Look critically at each site listed and remember that the best site may not be one of the top five listed by the search engine. You must systematically evaluate the suitability of each information source for your audience and purpose. This tutorial will help you learn how to do this.

Finally, remember that although the Internet is an excellent place to find information, it should not be the only resource you use to gather evidence. Persuasive arguments often draw upon information published in a variety of media.
  

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