How do I know what websites I can trust?
Knowing what content to trust on the Internet can be difficult since anyone can create a web page or make a forum post. However, following the steps below help give you a better understanding and the security of knowing what to trust.
Spelling and grammar
A web page with spelling or grammar errors is more likely to be written by someone not concerned about the quality or is uneducated.
If what you're reading contains lots of spelling or grammar errors, take caution when following their advice.
A website designed for a specific topic is more likely to contain good and correct information than one that is not. For example, a site like Computer Hope has more support for computers than a site with cooking and shopping information.
Forum, bulletin board, and chat
Website forums, chat, blogs, and other methods that allow visitors to post and communicate with other visitors are a great resource and often contain a wealth of information. However, when relying on these pages, realize that it is often other visitors and not the actual company or person behind the site creating the post.
When reading a forum post, try to keep the below suggestions in mind.
- Complexity of post - A post that is a paragraph or more often means more time was spent composing the post and increases its authenticity.
- Other posts - If the forum has many posts from other users, they are likely finding good help and that you are visiting a well-established forum.
- Moderated forum - Not all forums are moderated. If you see lots of spam or garbage posts, no one is likely making sure the forum is safe.
- Post counts - A user with lots of posts (e.g., 100+) has contributed to the forum for a long time as is likely more trustworthy.
Extent of information
A page with a wealth of information regarding a subject or question is likely more thorough than a page with one paragraph of text. Usually, when spending more time on the subject, the author has spent more time researching the subject and has a better understanding of the topic.
It has gotten a lot easier to set up an HTTPS website. However, it still a lot easier to set up a non-HTTPS website. If the website is a secure website (HTTPS in front of the URL), it's an indicator of a more trusted website. However, keep in mind that a malicious website can still use HTTPS.
Too good to be true rule
When reading anything on the Internet, always keep the golden rule in the back of your head. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."