Indicators of accuracy for answers to ready reference questions on the Internet



The Internet is increasingly being used as a source of reference information. Internet users need to be able to distinguish accurate information from inaccurate information. Toward this end, information professionals have published checklists for evaluating information. However, such checklists can be effective only if the proposed indicators of accuracy really do indicate accuracy. This study implements a technique for testing such indicators of accuracy and uses it to test indicators of accuracy for answers to ready reference questions. Many of the commonly proposed indicators of accuracy (e.g., that the Web site does not contain advertising) were not found to be correlated with accuracy. However, the link structure of the Internet can be used to identify Web sites that are more likely to contain accurate reference information.