digitalman Online Source Credibility 
Brian Carroll | Berry College | Class Homepage 

Reasonableness

A Web site that exhibits reasonableness will be fair, balanced and objective; have no obvious conflicts of interest; and have no obvious falsities or biases.

It should also be consistent in the facts and opinions it is providing.

FAIRNESS:

Does the site offer a balanced, reasoned argument, not one that is selective or slanted?

Are ideas from opponents also presented in an accurate manner?

Does it use a calm tone?

Be suspicious of emotional writing. If the information is presented in an angry, hateful or spiteful way, it is probably also unfair and manipulative.

BALANCE:

In your experience and to your knowledge, is the information on the Web site likely, probable or even possible?

Is it believable?

Does it make sense?

Do the claims lack face validity (i.e., do they seem to conflict with what you know or seem too exaggerated to be true)?

If a Web site is surprising or hard to believe, don't automatically reject its information; just be more stringent in deciding whether to use it.

OBJECTIVITY:

Does the information source control its biases? It's impossible to be "purely objective," but a good source will try to be.

Is the source by nature not neutral? i.e., does it cover a volatile topic? Be aware of politically distorted work.

Is there a possible conflict of interest with the source presenting the information it does? i.e., will benefit in some way (financially, politically, emotionally or psychologically) if you accept its information?

CONSISTENCY:

Does the information contradict itself?

CLUES TO A LACK OF REASONABLENESS:

Severe language, e.g., "Anyone who believes otherwise has no basic human decency."

Exaggerations, e.g., "Everyone from that city is a thief."

Sweeping statements of significance, e.g., "This is the most important idea ever conceived!"

Conflicts of interest, e.g., if a site provides negative publicity about its opponents, rather than pointing viewers to an independent study.

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