Mar. 28, 2012
A generated list of external links potentially gives you a range of thoughts or comments about any given Web page. (Please note example site contains racist/offensive subject matter)
External links are like digital threads that come from other sites. They may be made by anyone in the world. Any author can choose to link to a document; an author may even choose to link to his/her own work. External links are invisible. Unlike forward links, which are controlled by a website author, anyone in the world can create a link to a website from an external source. There are no link police!
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Examining a website’s external links is an important step in validating Internet information. In validating, ask three questions:
1. Who is linked to the website? Look to see what other groups or individuals have linked to the site. Are they universities, schools or commercial sites? Read the URLs and titles of external links carefully. Look to see if there is a pattern in the types of sites linked.
2. What is the purpose of the link? Why have groups or individuals chosen to link to this site? Web authors choose to link to other sites for specific purposes. Speculate on what those purposes might be.
3. What do other sites say about the information on the site? Gain perspective about a website by reading what another site tells you about it. Cross-reference information and look for hidden bias.
As an example, ask these questions while looking at the external links to A short introduction to the study of Holocaust revisionism: http://pubweb.northwestern.edu/~abutz/di/intro.html.
To find the external links, conduct this search in Google with the link: command. Go to Google www.google.com, type link: in the search box and then add the URL of the site you would like research. For example:
Be sure to leave no space before or after the colon. Click the Find button. You will find an assortment of sites, most of which are Information Literacy sites.
Note: If you are researching a URL and produce 0 results, try truncating the URL you are researching. Truncating can also help if the URL you are researching is long. To truncate, delete one folder at a time, moving from right to left. Each time delete to the previous left slash /.
For example, if you remove /di/intro.html from this search, you will receive a longer list of external links with this search. Try it and see.
Once you receive a list of external links, scan through the sites that have chosen to link. Respond to three questions for external links and see if you can make any generalizations. What perspectives do you gain after looking at the external links?
You can use the link: command to examine the external links from any site.