Be Wary of the Quality of On-line Information Sources

The range of information sources on the web is broad, and I run across some interesting variations when I research things I’m interested in. Recently I ran across a site that purports to provide answers to almost any question, a laudable ambition, and suddenly I understood where some of those spam “work at home and earn big money” ads are coming from.

I was recently looking at some of those schemes, and found a bunch that pay tiny bits of money for anyone who wants to write articles or “answers” for their website (like $5 for a 500 word item – nobody’s going to get rich on that). Essortment is one of the “answer” sites I came across. On April 13, 2008 it came up 2nd on a Google search for “nanotechnology discoveries”. A quick read revealed the result-page is full of unsubstantiated claims about nanotechnology such as a prediction that “As R&D progresses exponentially, it will probably be here in 3-4 years. You will be able to use a unit similar in appearance to a microwave to produce any material thing out of thin air.”

My purpose in writing this is to point out that, if you hadn’t figured these things out already, information sites like essortment may not have good quality information on many of the topics they cover, and you may find their writing to be substandard and not-so-well researched, depending on the topic. For answer sites like essortment to suggest that they have good answers, or let people expect that, is misrepresentation in my book.

Also, writing 500 word articles for $5 each is ridiculous for most people. I spend 50 to 90% of my writing time doing research, and a 500 word article takes almost as long to produce as a 2000 word article, averaging at least a couple of hours. I don’t suggest that I am an expert on much of anything I write, but I do seek them out and try to understand what I’m writing about pretty well before I hit the “publish” button.

The bottom line is: Beware of what you read on the web, and, if you are really trying to research a topic, look at as many sources as possible, and consider the sources carefully. Heck … sometimes I even go to the library!

Thanks for reading, and I welcome your comments.


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