When evaluating a website for credibility, one of the first things to look at is the URL.
.com = Commercial site. The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information might not necessarily be false, it might be only part of the picture. Remember, there’s a monetary incentive behind every commercial site to provide positive information, whether for good public relations or simply to sell a product.
.edu = Educational institution. Sites using this domain name are schools, from kindergarten through higher education. Information from sites within this domain must be examined carefully for point of origin. If the information is from an academic department or research center at an educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students’ personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school’s server and use the .edu domain.
.gov = Government. If you come across a site with this domain, then you’re viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as census statistics, congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain. This information is considered to be from a credible source.
.org = Traditionally a non-profit organization. Organizations such as the American Red Cross or PBS (Public Broadcasting System) use this domain suffix. Generally, the information in these types of sites is credible and unbiased, but there are examples of organizations that strongly advocate specific points of view over others, such as the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood. You want to give this domain scrutiny. Some commercial interests might be the ultimate sponsors of a site with this suffix.
.mil = Military. This domain suffix is used by the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.
.net = Network. You might find any kind of site under this domain suffix. It acts as a catch-all for sites that don’t fit into any of the preceding domain suffixes. Information from these sites should be given careful scrutiny, and often is not considered to be credible.