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The Web is a great tool for learning and for gathering knowledge, as we have previously discovered Which Websites Help You Answer General Knowledge Questions? [You Tell Us] Which Websites Help You Answer General Knowledge Questions? [You Tell Us] General knowledge is an important part of everyone's education, and it isn't something that you stop learning when you leave school. It's a lifelong lesson into the people, places, and things that have got us... Read More . However, alongside all of the legitimate information sits the lashings of misinformation, of unsubstantiated rumors, of satirical news stories Faux News: 10 Best Websites for Fake News & Satire Faux News: 10 Best Websites for Fake News & Satire Read More , and of downright lies.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to the Web. And it existed long before the Internet was ever even conceived of. But while we expect newspapers to sensationalize or spin a story for their own benefit or belief, and for Fox News to feature different headlines than CNN, the Web has an infinite supply of sources, many of them unknown, feeding us facts. Or at least we assume they’re facts.

This makes it tricky to know who to trust. It’s time for us at MakeUseOf to seek your views.

This Week’s Question…

Do You Believe Everything You Read On The Web?

Do you believe everything you read on the Web? I would hope that your answer to that question is an unequivocal “No.” If you do take everything you read on the Web at face value, even if it sounds ridiculous, then we’d love to hear your reasons for doing so. Assuming you did answer negatively then the question can be expanded.

Justin recently wrote an article 4 Fact Checking Sites You Should Read Before Voting 4 Fact Checking Sites You Should Read Before Voting Quickly check whether a political statement is fact, fiction or something in between. Fact checking sites won't give you all the answers or tell you what to think, but they they can help you sort... Read More detailing four websites you should read before you head out to vote, primarily in the U.S. Presidential Election 10 Opinionated Political Commentators To Follow On Twitter During 2012 U.S. Presidential Election 10 Opinionated Political Commentators To Follow On Twitter During 2012 U.S. Presidential Election It's hard to believe that it's been almost four years since Barack Obama entered the White House. The next U.S. election, to be held this November, will see President Obama going up against his opponent,... Read More . Prospective politicians and their respective parties will say just about anything to get elected. Because getting elected is in many cases their ultimate quest. But truthfulness, or the lack of it, goes beyond politics (partly because we don’t do politics here at MakeUseOf).

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Do you have any particular source you trust fully and rely on to tell the truth? Whether their main interest is world news, current affairs, or even technology? Which websites do you use to check facts or statements? Do you feel social networking sites – especially Twitter – are the main cause of the barrage of fake news and false information that tends to be wafted under our noses these days? Do you stall before passing on a story you have read online to other people, just in case it’s later disproved?

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us.One reader will even win Comment Of The Weekwhich will be included in the follow-up post! What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to start a conversation. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Photosteve101

  1. opper
    October 11, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Well if you are on an Allstate commercial, blonde chicks dating French models are stupid, blacks are always smart and whites are usually stupid.Allstate has the most racist one sided commercials on TV at the moment

  2. Jimee Alberto
    October 11, 2012 at 2:46 am

    No never, to believe anything we need facts and evidence.

  3. Eserpess Eserpess
    October 11, 2012 at 2:00 am

    NO! Defiantly not, unless it has definite proof and credibility. The thing is that especially with the WWW is that you can type anything, be anybody do anything weather it be positive, truthful, false or malicious intent. And Wikipedia doest count... unfortunately.

  4. Eric J Hoagland
    October 11, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I believe most of what I read on trusted sites like wikipedia.org.

    But if it's on facebook or youtube... generally I'm critical.

  5. druv vb
    October 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

    It would have been hell, if the web didn't had some sort of self-check from multiple sources. I know that something is real when it appears on different sites backed up by some evidence...
    Sometimes you just have to accept that its true, like most of the time!

  6. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    October 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    No. Absolutely not. It should be the first advice you give to anyone surfing the internet for the first time. Before you believe any 'fact' you find, at least triple check it to reputable news sites, or review sites, and the firsthand accounts. Believing everything you read on the web is a sure recipe to disaster: scams, viruses, malwares, hoax, and more.

    Even if that comes from trustable sites you need to crosscheck it because mistakes can easily be made nowadays, both intentionally or not, especially if that site publishes a large number of article everyday.

    If it's something too good to be true or wonderfully groundbreaking, that's the red alert. Start crosschecking habit now and stop copy-pasting things straight to your social networks accounts. Don't share anything to anyone before you know it's true.

  7. Phil C
    October 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

    you are joking...right? ....but then again you only have to watch jeremy kyles' TV prog or look at the UK governnment to realise that there are many many people out there in internet land who have less common sense than my 3 y/o granddaughter.

  8. Benjamin Glass
    October 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I tend to believe things that I read as long as I trust the site I see it on. For instance, I trust Wikipedia (even though anyone can edit it) because I know that many people are hopefully correcting the errors.
    I also tend to trust major news organizations, excepting when they're talking about politics--they all seem to be extremely biased one way or the other when it comes to our government.

  9. Anonymous
    October 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I will have to mention Wikipedia and if you think it's libelous, you can shred my comment.

    I mentioned in one of my post that Islam is older than Christianity. One of my online friends replied we will have to edit Wikipedia since it says otherwise. I searched for evidence for my claim and sent it to reply. Do you think I should still trust Wikipedia?

    • Benjamin Glass
      October 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      I would disagree. Historically, Mohammed (I hope I'm spelling that right) was born over six hundred years AFTER Jesus. Therefore, unless you believe Islam was around before Mohammed, then Christianity came first.

  10. Anonymous
    October 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Once I might, but I have seen too many people hurt because they believed something without checking it. I've seen a pastor lose his church because he used faulty information from the internet and the congregation lost confidence in him. i was also one of a small group who lost hundreds of dollars to a woman who convinced us that all these bad thing happened and we wanted to help. I've gotten a bit of a rep as a person who will check out everything so many of my friends send em stuff to check before passing in on to others.

  11. Mac Witty
    October 5, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I want to say NO
    But haven't we seen over and over again that also reputable sources (newspapers and known web authorities) takes up rumors and spread them further? I think we believe in much more than we want to think we believe in

  12. George Klein
    October 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    What a silly question. No person having the slightest "normal" thinking will respond with"yes"

  13. Abdelkader Hadjaissa
    October 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    No if it's not a reliable reference

  14. Harshit Jain
    October 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Not at all. I am experienced with many things on internet.

  15. rshewmaker
    October 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Believing it is one thing. It's trying to remember where you originally ran across the article that's difficult.

  16. Bumferry Hogart
    October 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Trusted websites are many, thankfully, and of those that aren't are very rarely used by me.
    Sites such as BBC news, computeractive, Which? and others can usually be trusted to report the truth and at the very least correct mistakes.
    I also check comments when looking at news stories or reviews of things and check for any citations or corrections as nothing can spot a lie or an error better than commentator.

    Other than that - The internet MUST be used for fun and cold hard facts just get in the way sometimes.

  17. Rishabh Arora
    October 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Yep. I'm guilty of this one. But, it has to be a reliable source. Here's how I distinguish between reliable and unreliable (in order of importance):

    1. Website look and feel
    2. Comments
    3. Fb / twitter shares / likes
    4. Author
    5. Google rank

    • Peter Everett
      October 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Now point 1 is interesting; I firmly believe (and am guilty of myself) that a LARGE portion of internet users judge the professionalism/integrity/factuality of a website based on how professional its design and function looks!

      Once upon a time (way way back in the early days of the interweb) this probably held a lot of weight, but fly back to 2012 and you can buy a very professional looking website for very little money from suppliers all round the world.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        October 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

        I used to think that if they spent good amount of time designing the site so we can read the contents comfortably, it's a good sign. Like Peter said, nowadays it's kinda in vain.

  18. Rob Hindle
    October 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Part of the problem can be down to YOU. When you search does your query indicate the kind of answer you are expecting? A trivial example, if you searched for (best mobile phone apple) you'd probably not get the best mobile phone because you qualified the search with (apple) so you might not get any Android results.

    Sometimes the answer may appear to be evident just from the summaries under the search results without you needing to fetch and read the page the result points to. So in my example you might see a page abstract that says "Apple is the best mobile phone..." but if you fetch the page you find out that it was written 2 years ago or the sentence goes on to say "...if you disregard Android".

    A few people have specified "reliable" sources. I'd not take them as 100% reliable just a good starting point, always regard whatever you read as just one point of view. People, even professional journalists, even at the BBC do report "facts" without going back to the original source to verify them because it's very time consuming to check every detail and sometimes for most of us it's immaterial. Every year we get reports like this: "Tea cosies incorrectly lifted off the pot or dropped on the floor are responsible for around 40 emergency hospital treatments a year, and cosy accidents have doubled in recent years."
    Does it really matter to most of us whether those figures are accurate? Are you going to ban tea cosies from your home? Should the journalist have gone back to source rather than say "around 40..."? Should he have dug out a graph of tea cosy incidents over the past ten years to show the trends and validate the rather vague "...doubled in recent years."
    If it's something that is really significant and important to you then, sorry, you have to do a lot more digging to get more relable source data.
    The tea cosy story I found was from 2001 (covering data for 2000). A search for stories PRIOR to 2001 found this "The number of injuries associated with tea cosies has dropped from three in 1993 to zero in 1994." ROSPA reports tea cosy incidents in 2000 at 35,the next 2 years as zero and no subsequent figures.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      October 7, 2012 at 10:40 am

      I think it's both sad and interesting that people often search for articles that support their belief, like what you stated in the beginning of your comment. They already start with some sort of bias, and more often than not, completely disregard whatever search results unlike what they want.

  19. josemon maliakal
    October 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    never .......

  20. Igor Rizvi?
    October 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Well not all I read,but the main thing is to think logically so youll get the right answer

  21. Vipul Jain
    October 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

    The main thing that answers this question is "The credibility of your source".
    If the article i am reading is ON A or BY A trusted website/author (By trusted i mean, trusted by me, i don't want a certified tag on people i trust), then i trust that news.
    And with great pleasure i can say that MUO is among my trusted sites. :thumbsup:

  22. AP
    October 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Answer is a big fat NOOO, but to check trustworthiness of a site I often rely on WOT's ratings.

    • Peter Everett
      October 4, 2012 at 10:28 am

      several commenters have mentioned WOT. Its not something I've heard of before, having run a search, is this the Web Of Trust 'Safe Browsing Tool'? interesting...

      • AP
        October 5, 2012 at 4:10 am

        It's a must Chrome extension and worth giving it a try.

  23. Peter Everett
    October 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

    bugger.. all formatting is removed in comments :/ (sorry for what is now a wall of text)

  24. Peter Everett
    October 4, 2012 at 10:20 am

    As mentioned in the text, the internet is as fallible as any other medium, but more so in that anyone in the world can post their opinion as fact, and if done so in the right places at the right time, can go global in a very short period of time. This is compounded by the traditional media being able to take innacurate statements that have gone global and publish them in the news, galvanising them as fact in the process (at least in the minds of their avid readers).

    I would hope that most internet users have gone through a similar process as me: When reading a new website, I would try to rate its 'trustworthiness' based on information I already know to be true - old articles or articles about subjects which i'm already well versed in. Althernatively, I will cross reference them with websites I DO already trust. Often, as a Britain, these are websites such as the BBC, government websites, or authority websites such as NATO, UN, CERN, Nasa (subject dependant).
    Once I have ascertained the 'trustworthiness' of a website, I would often bookmark the website in my browser (or metaphorically) as a reputable source and use it freely thereafter.

    I do however remain open to that trustworthiness rating being ammended as appropriate to make sure that I dont blindly trust everything written there.

    It is worth noting we should always be prepared to have all our ideas and opinions challenged in the face of new evidence, so this should be applied to those websites we already trust or those we dont trust.

    One interesting point to note that was brought to my attention by an Air Power Studies lecturer recently was a question: "Do people that habitually read certain newspapers, read them primarily because they reinforce what they already believe, or because they challenge their held beliefs?" (particularly papers with a political bias). Of course people read papers that uphold their political views, its more comfortable.

    Lastly, I do actually hold the opinion of the writers of makeuseof in quite high regard and by now I often take their views as read and dont bother to check their validity. laziness? probably :)

    For what its worth, these are my most trusted (and visisted) websites:

    BBC
    TechRadar
    makeuseof
    and the official websites mentioned earlier, and plenty of gaming websites :D

  25. Les
    October 4, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I like to ensure that a comment is agreed by another
    Not just a copy or repost.

    • Rob Hindle
      October 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      I agree (joke)

  26. R Chuck
    October 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Nope!!..I don't believe everything i read on the web. Internet these days come with easy accessibility, low cost and every other person with a little knowledge can publish on the web. So u may find many false statements and inaccuracies..What i try is to be a critical reader..try to find out the source of information..and search for the same information from other sources. Then if there is no material or significant variations among the different sources and sufficient evidence to back it up, I tend to believe it true..:)

  27. Joel Pinto
    October 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I always take what I read under the microscope of my professional background and knowledge. Otherwise, I wouldn't be sure whether I'm sharing truly relevant content or just littering :-D

  28. Alan Wade
    October 4, 2012 at 6:28 am

    That is a bit like asking "Do you believe everything you read in a newspaper"? And my answer has to be Definately Not! Whilst, in my opinion, there is a lot of good trust worthy facts, news, articles and of course sites etc there is also an equal amount (if not more) number of sites spewing out utter rubbish. WOT is a good starter to wittle out the potentionally dangerous sites then its down to the sites you know and trust.
    If I was searching for a particular piece of information then I would look at a number of search results to see how many printed roughly the same info and disregard the odd ones that stood out on their own.

    • Peter Everett
      October 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

      Yeah, as mentioned in a few comments here, you should always cross reference with unconnected sources where possible.

      A good example of this is wikipedia. Wikipedia is a fantastic resource, I use it so often, but its worth checking what the writes is referencing in the bibliography, or checking against other sources such as governement or official websites.

    • Peter Everett
      October 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

      writer*, not writes

  29. Ahmed Khalil
    October 4, 2012 at 6:23 am

    the answer is no, except in hte field of technology as it is eazy to prove from other sites

  30. Meena Bassem
    October 4, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Maybe only if it's from a well trusted site, and i don't always believe those specially the news sites., otherwise, it depends on if its something that people don't need to lie about

  31. Anonymous
    October 4, 2012 at 3:46 am

    No.Not unless there is some substantial "evidence" to back it up.

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