This document is a resource for assessing the accuracy or veracity of online information, organized under a number of headings. The objective of the resource is to improve the digital lives of individuals and to improve the quality of the online commons by increasing the number of people who know how to separate good info from bad info. It began as a chapter for my 2012 book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. I wrote the book to improve the quality of the commons and lives of individuals by introducing them to five fundamental literacies. In the order I presented them, these literacies involve skills (both individual and social) having to do with attention, crap detection, participation, collaboration, and network know-how. Attention came first because it is basic to thought and communication of any kind. Crap detection came next because we have lived since the invention of the search engine in a world where almost everybody almost everywhere can ask any question and receive many answers in a fraction of a second -- however, after millennia of vesting authority in the authors of texts, it is now up to the information seeker/user to decide whether the answers they receive are accurate, inaccurate, outright bogus, or deliberately misleading. In addition to writing the book, I’ve taught a course based on Net Smart at Stanford University and have made available a syllabus for others to adopt and modify. Access to all the published information in the world is a danger rather than a benefit to those who don’t know how to test it. Here are some tools that anybody can use to judge the quality of online information. Any reader can comment on this document. If you want to edit, request editing privs. First, make sure that what you want to add is an effective tool. Then, make sure that your candidate resource isn’t already here.
-- Howard Rheingold