Tips on How to Avoid Being Mislead Online

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Tips on How to Avoid Being Mislead Online

Post by Crystal » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:40 pm

Dear FINCHforum members,

Since anyone can publish or claim just about anything on the internet, much of what you may come across (not just about birds—but about any topic) online may not be accurate. Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction online, especially if what you are reading is outside your area of expertise. Many use this forum (at least in part) in hopes of seeking out the best available knowledge in order to gain a better understanding of finches and/or improve their husbandry. It is important for the birds’ well-being that the information gathered be scrutinized for trustworthiness before it is applied.

Here are some tips you can use on how to sift through the vast amount of information presented to check for validity and avoid being mislead on the internet:

1. If someone claims something which sounds flawed, questionable or simply very interesting, don’t be afraid to ask them to cite their source (i.e. how/where they found that information).

1. AUTHORITY. Is this a credible author with appropriate qualifications for what is being presented (i.e. what are the author’s credentials, occupation, experience, reputation, previous works, awards, affiliated organizations if any)? Are the credentials verifiable? (eg How to verify an academic degree: ... redentials). Note that respected authors are frequently cited by other scholars.
2. QUALITY. Educational articles typically have fewer grammatical and spelling errors. The tone and language is objective (not emotional), the depth of information should be sufficient (avoiding oversimplifications), the information presented should be well-researched with adequate supporting evidence provided, and the piece not too vague or grandiose in style. Any links which are present should lead to reputable websites.
3. FACTUALITY. Is the content fact, opinion, or advertisement/propaganda? If offering facts, the piece should be objective and unbiased, well-researched with adequate supporting evidence, and the sources for those facts should be clearly indicated. If opinion, does the author provide transparency (admit the piece is their opinion) and offer sound reasons for adopting their stance as well as acknowledging other viewpoints? (& Is the author reputable?) Beware of propaganda, hidden agendas to promote or sell something, persuasive pieces, opinion masquerading as fact, or of advertisement masquerading as content.
4. MOTIVE. Might the author have a bias or special interest? Are they trying to sell you something? Do they want you to accept them as an expert? Or are their intentions genuine and motivations intrinsic in that they want to help others do better by their birds (purely educational)?
5. CURRENCY. Check the date of publication to see if it may be dated or still relevant. A lot can change in just a few years-let alone 20 or 30! This is not to say that an old article is automatically invalid, but rather that its contents should be scrutinized for accuracy in the context of any new information which may have since come to light. Some subjects (such as gross anatomy) are unlikely to change much over the years, while others (like medicine) are constantly changing as more information is uncovered. Websites should ideally be free of broken links and should receive regular updates.
6. DOMAIN. Check the type of domain which has published the information. Some domain extensions are more likely to provide greater oversight or fact checking. In general (though not 100% true these days, unfortunately): .com websites are trying to sell you something, .org websites are (supposed) to be run by an organization, and most accurately, .edu websites [assuming they are registered to a real/accredited institution of learning] & .gov websites belong to institutions which tend to vet the information they publish most rigorously.
7. SOURCES. The author should cite a good mix of primary (raw research) and secondary (based on the raw research) sources. Know that there are fake journals. Know that even real journals can, on occasion, be duped into publishing flawed information. Know that there are corrupt researchers who falsify their data, skew their results, or simply publish information which is not repeatable or verifiable. The peer review process performed by reputable journals is meant to help weed most of this out, but it is not infallible.

8. Seek the opinion of a qualified professional in the field of which you are inquiring information aka a “subject matter expert” (eg avian veterinarian if this is a question of avian health). Make sure they hold valid credentials. (Hopefully they are keeping as current as possible on their continuing education in order to stay relevant and up to speed on the newest information!)
9. If you don’t have access to a subject matter expert, ask a research librarian to help you find the information you are seeking.
10. Check if there are other (independent) articles that support/substantiate what is being said by the source. If there is little to no information on a topic, don’t be tempted to just “take what you can get” without scrutinizing the information presented.

So long as your tone remains civil, it is absolutely okay and even encouraged to request more information from each other on this forum in order to ensure that the information being disseminated is as reliable as possible. Don’t let yourself be gullible - be an information detective instead!

Have any tips you would like to add? Share them in a reply!

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Re: Tips on How to Avoid Being Mislead Online

Post by debbie276 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:15 am

Thanks for posting this and reminding us to ask questions. :)
long time breeder of lady gouldians:
SF Pastel (SF Yellow)
Pastel (Yellow)
SF Pastel Blue (SF Yellow Blue)
Pastel Blue (Yellow Blue)

GREAT articles on avian lighting: ... ummary.pdf ... sc_page=56

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Re: Tips on How to Avoid Being Mislead Online

Post by eddie.chiao » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:39 pm

This will be hepful for us to get the right information, thanks! :P

Think different, Make difference!

2 goldfinch
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5 Yellow-fronted Canary
6 Black-throated Canary
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10 Lemon-breasted Canary