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How to Recognize a Business/Marketing Web Page

A Business/Marketing Web Page is one sponsored by a commercial enterprise (usually it is a page trying to promote or sell products). The URL address of the page frequently ends in .com (commercial).




Questions to Ask About the Web Page

Note: The greater number of questions listed below answered "yes", the more likely it is you can determine whether the source is of high information quality.


Criterion #1: AUTHORITY

  1. Is it clear what company is responsible for the contents of the page?
  2. Is there a link to a page describing the nature of the company, who owns the company, and the types of products the company sells?
  3. Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of this company? That is, is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information? (Simply an email address is not enough.)
  4. Is there a way of determining the stability of this company?
  5. Is there a statement that the content of the page has the official approval of the company?
  6. Is there a statement giving the company's name as copyright holder?

Criterion #2: ACCURACY

  1. Has the company provided a link to outside sources such as product reviews or reports filed with the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission) which can be used to verify company claims?
  2. Are the sources for any factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  3. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? (These kinds of errors not only indicate a lack of quality control, but can actually produce inaccuracies in information.)

Criterion #3: OBJECTIVITY

  1. For any given piece of information, is it clear what the company's motivation is for providing it?
  2. If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?

Criterion #4: CURRENCY

  1. Are there dates on the page to indicate:When the page was written?When the page was first placed on the Web? When the page was last revised?
  2. Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?
  3. For financial information, is there an indication it was filed with the SEC and is the filing date listed?
  4. For material from the company's annual report, is the date of the report listed?

Criterion #5: COVERAGE

  1. Is there an indication that the page has been completed, and is not still under construction?
  2. If describing a product, does the page include an adequately detailed description of the product?
  3. Are all of the company's products described with an adequate level of detail?
  4. Is the same level of information provided for all sections or divisions of the company?

Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate 1996-2005
Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The page is reproduced in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authors at Wolfgram Memorial Library, Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA. 19013.