Some tips on evaluating internet information


Introduction

More and more people are using the internet as one of their prime sources of information for their lives, business and as a source of dynamic intelligence and knowledge through the social networks, newsgroups and other web2 applications.

At the same time we need to be keep in mind that the “information explosion” does not mean necessarily that everything you find can be used just like that, especially where use use is associated with professional activities.  Great initiatives such as Wikipedia had to resort to measures to ensure that readers/users are made aware of any credibility or verifiability issues. There is this tendency to just take for granted that what is written.

Whilst the internet opens the world up to a vast ocean of information it is important to realise that a lot of this information is unscreened or not evaluated. Therefore care is required when it comes to using this information in your intelligence and research projects when you use the internet as a source especially where your research is used to support decision making processes.

Evaluating Information

Information is more than once not just true or not true. Truth can be relative under circumstances. The accuracy and reliability of information can not always be assessed upfront.

In the intelligence industry a system called the ADMIRALTY system is used to assess and evaluate information. This system assesses both the reliability of the source and the reliability and validity of the information. Both categories are subdivided in four reliability levels.

Reliability of Source

A Reliable
No doubts about the reliability, authenticity of the source.
B Usually Reliable
Sometimes there are doubts about the reliability, competency and authenticity of the source. Most of the times the source is reliable.
C Unreliable
Regular doubts about the reliability, competency and authenticity of the source. In the past the source has been proven to be unreliable on several occasions
X Reliability unknown or can not be assessed
Source has not been used before and there is no basis to assess the reliability of the source yet.

Reliability of Information

1 Confirmed
Reliable information , confirmed by other independent sources and consistent with other information on the subject matter
2 Probable
Information has not been confirmed but is consistent with other information on the subject matter
3 Doubtful
The information has not been confirmed and is inconsistent with other information. It is possible that the information is correct, however the inconsistency with other information makes this unlikely.
4 Reliability unknown or can not be assessed
The information can not be compared with other information to assess the reliability. There is no additional information available on the subject matter because this is an entirely new subject matter. As a result the reliability of the information can not be assessed at this point in time.

This system has proven to be quite useful in classifying and prioritizing information that is used to support decision making processes.
I personally use it on a regular basis and it is being used by intelligence and enforcement agencies.

Additional criteria

Using sources from the Internet usually additional efforts of the user because a vast amount of the available information can be and is placed on the Internet unfiltered. Usual types of evaluation of sources is more that once not sufficient in relation to internet information.

Read the full post at Dierckx & Associates here >>>

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