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How To Evaluate a Website

How To Evaluate a Website Activity: Fact or Opinion: How to a Judge Website's Biases

Instructions for Your Students

Feelin’ like an e-star? (You are.) Think you can figure out if a website is telling it like it is? (It's not always easy.)

Today you're going to take your skills to the next level by finding out which websites have opinions that they're trying to convince you to agree with. Opinionated websites can be fun, but they're not always good when you're working on a research paper for school.

Step 1: First, let's talk about the difference between a biased and an unbiased website. Here are a few questions to help guide your discussion:

  1. What does it mean for information on a website to be biased? 
  2. Why is it important to know if a site is biased or not?
  3. When is it helpful, fun, or okay to read biased information?
  4. When is it not helpful, and potentially even harmful, to read or use biased information?

Don't get us wrong. Biased information isn't necessarily bad—sometimes it's useful to know the opinions of people you trust, or fun to read opinionated materials—it's just important to know if the information is biased or not, and to decide for yourself how to use the information.

Step 2: Take a look at your copy of the "Fact or Opinion" handout and view the list of "Biased or Unbiased?" websites below. 

You can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups to research each of the websites. As you review the websites, fill in the handout. And remember: whenever possible, you should look in the "About" section of a website. This can be a good place to find out a website's biases.

Step 3: As a class, review your findings and discuss what you've learned.

  1. Was it always easy to tell immediately if a website was biased or not? Which sites were the trickiest?
  2. How did you find out whether a site was biased or not? What parts of the site gave you hints?
  3. Are all of the websites honest about their biases, or do some try to hide it?
  4. Did you find that there were some sites that you might read for fun or out of personal interest that you wouldn't use for school? Which sites were those?
  5. Think of websites that you have visited for school recently. Do you now think that any of those were biased? Were they good sources for information for school?
  6. Think of the websites that you visit on your free time. Are they biased? Did you always know that they were?