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Web Savvy -- General Guide: Personal Pages

A multi-page tutorial on evaluating web sites, for beginners and those who think they know.

Web Savvy -- Page 6 -- Personal Pages

Does this mean that you can not trust or use pages, videos, or images by ordinary people in your research? Not exactly...

You can sometimes use personal pages (and other materials) if your research covers a subject where ordinary people's words matter. Caregivers and survivors are experts in the psychosocial effects of disease and disability, self-help and support. Members of the public include experts on popular culture, cyberculture, or individual attitudes on a variety of subjects. Members of the general public can also be excellent source for product reviews and classified advertising, though some reviews are generated by computer programs called bots (short for robot).

There are also well known writers who publish their own and others' works on personal sites. Such sites include: Michael Polan and Paul Offit.

Generally personal web sites (videos, blogs, and Instagram/TikTok reels) are more reliable and trustworthy if the person creating them signs his or her first and last name, and supplies information that ties them to the "real world" such as a mailing address, writings published in print, or an external authority such as a newspaper or bank that vouches for them. Curlie and Dot-Dash's older sites have members of the general public serving as editors or guides. These editors use their first and last names, and have short biographies.

To learn more about assessing truth in personal accounts, visit Notes of a Pam Watcher.

Of course the safest way to use words from ordinary people, is if a researcher interviews them as part of an article. Even if the researcher hides their subjects' names, the researcher's authority as an expert in the field and the scholarly journal's peer review and reputation, ensure you are learning about a real person's experience and not reading fiction.

Here are some sample personal pages and their authors...

Thumbnail of Equispirit's Substack.
Click on this thumbnail to see a personal site where the author does NOT sign her full name.

Thumbnail Team Finn's Facebook Page.
Click on this thumbnail to see a personal web site (Facebook pge) with last names and physical location.