Many of the websites you will find through searching are created by individuals.
Anyone with access to a networked computer can publish on the Web. This doesn't make them experts (though they might be).
Would you make an important decision on the advice of a stranger? Would it be useful to find out more about the people who publish Web pages? How is their situation different from yours? When did they put the information on their pages and is it still valid? Was it ever?
www.mp3.com and www.apple.com
Many other websites are created by companies that are focused on making money.
Companies on the Web are selling products.
How might this affect information on their sites? Are there business relationships in which a company is involved that may determine whether you get the information you need?
Some companies, though not selling products, receive money for advertising.
Do some information sources have editorial biases? Are these always easy to identify?
www.digitalconsumer.org and www.riaa.org
Some sites represent the views of organizations.
Some organizations are dedicated to public interests in special fields. They are not selling anything, but may alert consumers to product information.
Would it be useful to have more than one opinion on a topic? Is the information presented here appropriate for your topic?
Professional associations in specific industries represent employees or companies who require specialized information or for whom the association acts as an advocate or lobby.
How might this affect the information they communicate? Would information that negatively affects these employees or companies be likely to appear on such sites?
Some sites are created by libraries and government agencies.
Information professionals whose jobs include selecting, filtering, and providing access to quality information sources for their users. Libraries have Web pages, but they may not always be selecting what you need.
Think about the difference between "good" information and appropriate information. Also, many sources available through libraries are not freely available on the Internet (more on this shortly).
Local, state, and national governments, and even inter-governmental groups like the UN have Web sites. (This example, the Library of Congress, happens to be a library site and a government site.)
What kinds of information might be found on a government site? Would these kinds of information be helpful in general situations?
Other Web content
A great deal of Web content won't be found by any search engines.
Less than half of what's free on the Internet can be retrieved by even the best search service. So you can expect that many more of the same kinds of sites you just looked at are out there and not indexed.
Subscription services require users to set up individual accounts before viewing documents on their site. There is typically no charge for these services, but you may find some extra e-mail in your inbox trying to see you stuff.
Organization Intranets are small segments of the Internet available only (by password) to employees of a company or members of a special group. Usually this information is created to enable communication and training within an organization.
Licensed databases contain abstracts, citations, and, sometimes, entire journal, magazine, and newspaper sources. These large databases are only available for a fee, usually quite high, and so they are normally only accessed through libraries or other large institutions willing to pay the bill on behalf of their clients, students, or employees.