Academic Writing--Types of Web Pages You are Likely to Encounter


In order of importance, authority, and objectivity:
1. Online publications that had their start as print or visual media,
Including newspapers, TV stations, scholarly journals, and popular magazines. These web pages are likely to be reliable and authoritative. However, for the more popular sites, expect a lot of flashing, banner, pop up, pop under, and slide across ads.

For example, see CNN.
2. Online publications that got their start online,
For example, The Huffington Post and The Smoking Gun. These may or may not be authoritative. Some of them, like The Onion, are spoof/humor pages and should not be used for serious research.
3. Online directories,
For example, Yellow Pages offer basic information on individuals and businesses, such as maps, phone numbers, and addresses. These are fairly reliable, but they are usually filled with ads, like those mentioned in #1.
4. Business sites,
Such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Pizza Hut, etc. These are basically sales sites that are pushing specific products, so they are not objective and should be avoided for unbiased information.
5. Blogs and personal web pages.
These may or may not be authoritative. For example, my site is actually a blog, but I have a certain amount of experience in my field, so it should be fairly authoritative, and certainly authoritative for my students. However, it may hold very little authority for someone else’s students.
6. Political pages, which always have their biases.
If you use a political page (Democratic National Committee or Republican Party), for a more objective slant, you may want to check out the opposing political viewpoint web page. Some of these pages are operated by downright wing-nuts (or wingnuts, a new word for your lexicon) and hate groups. Be careful.
7. “Made for advertising” pages.
These are quickie “informational” pages thrown up with the intention of making money for the owner after you click on the ads. The content of these pages is usually short, poorly written, and often inaccurate. They usually have adsense banners plastered throughout the page, with pop-ups, etc. Could be dangerous for your computer. Avoid.
8. “Parking” pages.
A “domainer” buys a domain name and parks it on a site like Sedo, Fabulous, WhyPark, etc.; the page is simply a list of links that will navigate you to a company that sells products related to the domain name. The domain owner and parking company then share in the profits. Avoid for research projects.
9. Internet forums, music sites, video sites.
These are simply specialized chat areas for members, children, teens, "internet trolls" (people who spew hate and nastiness over the internet), nuts, etc.

For example, and Typically, not good sources for research projects.
10. Malicious pages!
Clone sites or pages that look like well-known sites, such as Paypal and ebay. These pages are likely to be filled with malicious codes (which can destroy your stored files/programs and/or make your computer into a clone or slave) or phishing links that ask for your user name and password. Often the domain name is CLOSE to the genuine URL, for example, instead of See the difference between the two site names?
Sooner or later, you will land on one of these pages, which is why you need to load an up-to-date virus protection program on your computer.

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