One thing we do in the Digital Polarization Initiative is to hone the actions we encourage students to take down to their most efficient form. Efficient meaning:
- easy to memorize
- quick to execute
- with a high likelihood of providing a direct answer to the question you have
Our student fact-checkers rely heavily on Wikipedia, and usually the best first pass at getting a read on a site is to read the Wikipedia article on it. But what’s the fastest way to get the relevant article?
As an example, consider the organization Nuclear Matters which describes itself this way:
Nuclear Matters is a national coalition with a diverse roster of allies and members. Our Advocacy Council is made up of leaders from various areas, including labor organizations, environmental supporters, young professionals and women in the nuclear industry, venture capitalists, innovators in advanced nuclear technology and former policymakers and regulators.
This site is not quite claiming to be grass roots, but we notice the one word not here is “industry-funded”. And we’re curious — you have some varied members, but where does the money come from?
As mentioned, the best first stop on this is Wikipedia. I used to show students how to do the site search for Wikipedia using the “site:wikipedia.org” syntax — but I found even faculty I taught this to were forgetting the syntax — or searching for “wikipedia.com” which gives weird search results.
So I now just do this omnibar hack, using the URL to match against Wikipedia pages:
It works for a couple reasons I can discuss at a later time — but it’s a useful enough habit I wanted to share it in a post.
BTW — In case people coming here don’t know, I currently run a national, cross-institutional project that aims to radically rethink how we teach college students online information literacy, where we teach them tricks and techniques like this. Ask me about it — my DMs are open. Or read the textbook: Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers and apply it to your own class — it’s free!