Although the internet is lauded for its opening of the information gateways, it is also a place where anyone can change the information available. Most websites are crowd sourced, meaning that the information on it depends on the accuracy of its editors. While this is admirable in terms of democratizing the access to information (and thereby knowledge) on the internet, it also opens the door to a lot of inaccurate information as well. For those of you who browse the internet a lot looking for nuggets of wisdom, here are some tips on how to determine whether the info you are staring at is accurate:
Check the Domain
Although this hearkens back to a time when academia had sole control over the knowledge pathways, there is still some truth in the fact that academic and educational websites contain the most accurate information online because it is checked and verified before it goes up. If the domain ends with a .edu then there is a very good chance that the information is accurate. Domains that end in .com can be obtained for a few dollars on the internet and is therefore highly unreliable, although certain high profile websites might still have first class content. Country specific domains such as .ae and .qa are more expensive but not exclusive, therefore it may or may not be accurate.
Check against Other Sites
Although this works in some cases, there are also many instances where sites pull information from other sites without due acknowledgment and therefore may simply be reproducing bad information. There are also SEO consultants who charge minimal fee services sitting at their office cubicles pushing their relevant sites to the top of the search results list, so the ones you look at may not necessarily have the most accurate information. Also, there are special web content creators who again, may not scruple to check the accuracy of the information they use before they post it. For instance, a content writer will write a blog post about a tourist trap for a travel website with 70% accurate info and 30% inaccurate fluff. Then, the seo consultants will manipulate the Meta data of that page, or pay less on advertising in order to bring that page/site to the top of a search results list, resulting in the perpetuation of inaccurate info.
Check other Sources
If none of the above work, the only solution left is to check other sources. If you find a claim on the internet that seem a little wild to you, go look it up in the local library or talk to an authority on the subject. This may be old fashioned, but at least it will ensure that you receive accurate information straight from the source, whereas the info on the internet may have been requited from a quote from an original source, and many things could have gotten lost along the way.