Credibility (learning portfolio 4)

Why is it important that we evaluate credibility of websites?
In a society where internet access has become something of an everyday use it is imperative that as internet users we protect our privacy by only accessing trustworthy sites; as Fogg explains “believability is a good synonym for credibility in virtually all cases (Fogg, 2003).” When surfing the web most people are looking for information that is current, correct and posted by a legitimate source. It is important that you ask yourself questions regarding the age of the information you are looking at, is the site frequently updated, who has written the webpage, what type of domain is the site and whether or not you have searched other sites to compare and contrast (College). These questions are important when browsing the web as if a site is not credible it can be misleading by providing you with wrong information, trying to scam you into giving out personal details, making you pay them an unnecessary fee and/or spreading a virus. By evaluating the credibility of a site you can be saving yourself from a lot of time and effort in re-searching for a credible site or dealing with privacy problems that may have arisen (Fogg, 2003).

 As a student it is entirely important that the credibility of a site is evaluated. Assignments at a university standard must always only be based on peer-reviewed material. There are a lot of websites online that claim to have the answers to your questions, for example, however sites such as these that are not peer-reviewed could be written by anyone and be not entirely correct. It is very simple for someone to create a site that has surface credibility so it is important to delve a little deeper to find out who has published the site and whether the information is current and correct.

Why is Wikipedia not accepted as a credible source for information?
Morrow explains that “a new study from Penn State University claims that 60% of Wikipedia entries might include errors (Morrow, 2012).” Although this study may not be entirely correct I do believe that in almost all cases Wikipedia should not be used as a reliable source of information. Instead, if someone is determined to use it, Wikipedia should be used as a basic beginning point of gaining information from which further more concrete research can be made from peer-reviewed websites and books. Wikipedia is a forum that can be edited publically, meaning that anybody is able to log in and update information on the site. Wikipedia does claim that any incorrect information will be deleted, however, there are thousands of pages on the website and searching through them all for bogus information would be hard to say the least. As Morrow states “according to Wikipedia, Wikipedia does have problems with articles on highly contested issues. It’s not the greatest place to get information on something controversial (Morrow, 2012)” explaining that even Wikipedia admits that the site is subject to being biased due to general members of the public being able to make updates and post information. When it comes to sourcing information it is always best to access peer reviewed material, rather than a public online forum such as Wikipedia.

Anticipated issues that may affect the users’ perceived web credibility in future:

  • Today websites are now modified to be viewed easily on hand held devices such as smart phones or iPad’s, therefore reducing image sizes and in some cases changing the websites format. Judging the website based on its’ aesthetics is made slightly more difficult in some cases because of this – some sites appear the same across all devices and others, regardless of their credibility, change their appearance.
  • The internet has become extremely popular with far more websites running than earlier years and definitely many more to appear. Users perceived web credibility can be affected negatively due to the vast amount of people using the internet, therefore the vast array of websites to explore. With more websites comes the risk of more fraudulent sites, therefore perceivably making it harder to access desired websites.
  • With further mainstream acceptance comes new types of internet users. Younger people, even children, are now able to access the internet  readily and their perception of sites that are fraudulent or misleading is not as good as older more experienced web users in most cases.
  • Due to the increase in amount of websites on the internet it may be beneficial in the future that all sites contain citations and references. In the future, as the internet grows, it may be very important that websites cite where all of their information has come from, no matter the type of site, therefore enhancing the perceived web credibility.

Examples of websites showing the four types of credibility: Presumed, reputed, surface and earned:

1) Presumed Credibility

(McLaflin, 2012)
The Africa Oasis Project webpage comes under the category of presumed credibility as it is a not for profit organisation, the website ends in ‘.org’ and the project is aiming to help out 3rd world regions which is seen as being a selfless act.

2) Reputed Credibility

(JennyCraig, 2012)
Jenny Craig can be seen as having reputable credibility as it is endorsed and recommended by various third parties, most of which are well known celebrities. These celebrities are all popular at the time and show physical signs of the Jenny Craig program working which encourages people to see the site as reputable.

3/4) Surface Credibility and Earned Credibility

(Greensmith, 2012)
Surface credibility refers to someone making a quick evaluation of credibility by browsing the webpage. The Wheels & Dollbaby website looks like it was designed professionally, is kept constantly updated, has no advertisements to confuse or distract viewers, downloads quickly, has a carefully thought about colour scheme with specific font choices and a large professional photograph in the center of the page.

This site also has earned credibility as it is arranged in a way that makes sense, customer service questions are answered promptly, interaction is easy in the fact that navigation is not difficult, you can sign up for regular email updates on new products and can ask to be notified when an item that you want has come back in stock.

Works Cited:
College, S. V. How to Determine a Credible Website. Retrieved from

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What we Think and Do (pp. 122-125). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Greensmith, M. (2012). Wheels & Dollbaby: Clothes to Snare a Millionaire  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

JennyCraig. (2012). Jenny Craig  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

McLaflin, M., McLaflin, L. (2012). Africa Oasis Project  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

Morrow, S. (2012). How Accurate is Wikipedia? Retrieved May 31, 2012, from


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