Saturday, August 27, 2005

Caveat lector : evaluating blogs

Ultimately, the decision on believing or disbelieving; reading or ignoring blogs falls to the reader.

As librarians, we know a thing or two about evaluating sources. While we can't browbeat people into reading what is good for them (nor should we), we can at least be prepared when people come to the reference desk with questions on blogs and blogging.

The nuts and bolts of blogging design have already been covered by my colleagues. Here, then, a few things to remember when evaluating the reputation of a blog:

Note: these are more for news and current events related-blogs. Online personal journals may have a different set of evaluative criteria.


  • Look at the coverage of topics, the depth of investigation, interaction and discussion on the blog (both comments and replies). Is it active or static?
  • Don't base judgments on the frequency of updating alone. Is the blog updated frequently with meaty and interesting material, or just quizzes and song lyrics?
  • Who is the audience of the blog?
  • Is there objective reasoning, or just rants?
  • What is the writing style? Is it appropriate for the audience?
  • Are there any external reviews of the blog? Who are these reviewers?
  • Who is the author? Who are they affiliated with? Where is the URL coming from?
  • Is there overall integrity? Can you track down the data cited independently of the blog?
  • What is the tone? Ironic or satirical?
  • Can you spot a bias?
  • Are there citations and references provided for the material?
  • Can you spot propaganda, mis- or disinformation?

The above criteria were compiled from the following sources:

Cornell University Library's Critically Analyzing Information Sources

University of California Berkeley Library's Finding Information on the Internet : a Tutorial

Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries' Evaluating Internet Information

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