Determining Authority and Reading a URL

Currently, this webpage appeared sixth on Google when searching for the term great depression: How can you determine if this source is from a reliable person?

URL Breakdown: You can learn a lot of information just from looking at the URL. Domain names, extensions (aka Top Level Domains or TLDs), and symbols can tell us a lot about a site before we even click on it. In his terrific book, Web Literacy for Educators, Alan November explains the breakdown of a URL and how to use it to evaluate a webpage. He suggests three questions to ask about a URL:

  1. Do you recognize the domain name?
  2. What is the extension of the domain name?
  3. Are you on a personal page?


Please Note: Web Literacy for Educators is available in the IMC and contains numerous exercises to use with students.

WayBack Machine - The page above no longer exists, but as you know, it is very difficult to delete information once it is up on the web. The Internet Archive's WayBack Machine can show you prior versions of pages, even those that no longer "exist." Students can trace the changes of a website and try to determine if the focus or purpose of a website has changed as this may affect its credibility.

Try it with Then try it with the Hunterdon Central Home page (

EasyWhois - To get even more information about a webpage, try EasyWhois . You may have to truncate the URL (cut it back to the domain name) if a single web page doesn't work. A famous example is

Try it with a webpage of your choice. Then try in the WayBack Machine.

ACTIVITY: Evaluate the following website using the above ideas, questions, and tools: Mechanical Marvels of the Nineteenth Century: Victorian Era Robots.

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