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ENGL 1100: Writing I (Hoekzema): Finding Reliable Websites

The Deep Web

While more and more content is being digitized every day, there is still an enormous amount of information that is only accessible through what is known as the deep web, which is content that is not indexed by search engines. This includes:

  • Dynamic web pages that are generated from a search query
  • Sites that require registration and login (though you sometimes see "snippets" of this content - articles found through a Google Scholar search instead of the library databases often fall into this category)
  • Non-HTML content - text encoded in multimedia or in file formats not handled by search engines
  • Scripted content - Content generated by programs such as Flash and JavaScript

The best rule of thumb with web searches is to realize that even with the enormous amount of content available, not everything is available or accessible through the web. Web searches should always be one of several search strategies - library catalogs, databases, reference resources, and archives all hold information that may be the best on the topic, but Google will never find.

    Domain Names

    The domain name of a site can give you a good idea of what content you might find there:

    • .com - "Commercial" A for-profit site selling something (sometimes information).
    • .net - "Network" Usually similar to .com
    • .org - "Organization" A non-profit, but likely has an agenda/opinion.
    • .edu - "Education" An educational institution, college, or university.
    • .gov - "Government" Sponsored by the US government.

    Google Advanced Search

    We know most searches for information start on Google. It's important to remember though, that Google's results are ranked by popularity, not necessarily authority. The best source for your information might not be in the first 20, or even the first 100 results. To help narrow your results from the start: