Ethical writers focus on providing readers with access to accurate information. Lying or purposely misleading readers is a quick way to lose your reputation in the online publishing world. Once the word gets around that you’re publishing bad articles, most people will look for other places to get their information. One of the best ways to ensure that you’re providing reliable information to your readers is by evaluating your sources before using their information.
Finding a good source
Sources that provide facts should have no problem showing where those facts come from. A good source should be well-written without spelling and grammar mistakes. Even good information looks bad when there are easily avoidable errors. Information should come from a non-bias viewpoint and be based on facts instead of emotions. While there can be some merit in using opinion pieces, depending on the type of article you’re writing, these pieces aren’t ideal for many professional blogs and articles where information is supposed to be solely fact-based.
Watch for these red flags
There are some red flags to look for when identifying non-reliable sources. A page with lots of ads can mean the source is only there to earn money for the site rather than to provide good information. Extreme political pages can also be biased and tend to alter data and ignore facts that don’t follow the ideology of the writer. If the source focuses on out-of-date information or spends a lot of time dealing in facts and data that can’t be backed up with proof, you should question the information. Consider the message, the author, and the purpose of the article to determine if it’s appropriate to your purposes.
Living in an age of instant access to virtually any type of information you want can be overwhelming. There are great sources out there to use for professional and personal use when you’re trying to find information. But especially when searching for sources for professional use, you must use caution and verify that the source is reliable. Using bad sources can quickly ruin the reputation of a writer and the organization they work for.