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Help yourself - Searching the Internet

Understanding internet addresses

You can make some educated guesses about the reliability of a website if you know a little about their URL and domain names.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a web address for a page or document on the World Wide Web. All URLs end with a domain name eg. .com, .net,  which can help indicate the type of information they will contain. The following table looks at some domain names that are most commonly used today. 

Domain names ... gain insight into the information they contain
.com "commercial" used for commercial purposes. This domain name can be registered by anyone and can serve any purpose.
.org "organisation" – intended for use by charities and non-profit organisations. Commonly used by schools, communities, open-source projects and for-profit entities. Can be registered by anyone. 
.net "network" – used by internet service providers, but can also be registered by other including commercial entities.
.edu used only by "educational" or academic institutions. 
.gov "government" – used only by government entities. 
.asn  "association" -  used by incorporated associations, political parties, trade unions, sporting and special interest clubs.


"international"   used by international organisations such as the World Health Organisation. Often registered for treaty-related purposes between nations.

Many URLs end with an abbreviated code indicating which country they belong to. This can be helpful when searching for information/research pertaining to specific geographic regions, e.g. 

Country code domain names (exception: US does not use a country-specific domain name)
.au Australia
.ca Canada
.za South Africa
.de Germany
.ir Iran

Evaluating online information

EvaluationOnce you've found information that appears relevant to your research, find out if it is authoritative and of high quality. This evaluation process applies to all information resources, and is an important research skill.

Use the C.A.A.R.P. evaluation checklist (below) to evaluate any information you may want to use in your assignments.