Using the Internet

The purpose of this document is to discuss both how to search the internet for reliable/ relevant data, then analyse a site based on its effectiveness to present said information and it’s demographic.

The most common way of searching the internet is by the use of Search Engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc… These Search Engines are usually found located at the top of your browser, or as the default home page of your browser.

For the purpose of this document, to demonstrate the how to search and assess information on the internet I will be using Google to find information on the upcoming Welsh Assembly Elections.

Using my search engine of choice, I am going to type in the most relevant and specific related to search, in this instance I want to know more information about the upcoming Welsh Assembly elections. By use the keywords “Welsh Assembly Elections 2016” this pinpoints key pieces of information I want the search to return; what am I searching for? The Welsh Assembly Elections, but because the assembly elections happen five-years I’ve also noted the year, 2016.

As shown in Figure 1, this search has returned a variety of results. It’s important to note that not of all of the results are necessary relevant to what I searched.1

Figure 1 – Google’s Result Screen

It’s down to the user to infer what result is relevant from the links header and descriptions. We can do this by assess a site by the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose (or as it is known C.R.A.A.P) of the information.

Judging the Relevance of the information presented is a subjective process but allows the user to determine whether or not the link is contains useful information. The distinction between what is and isn’t relevant to your search is subjective, but an example of this; If the user is searching for information about the Welsh Assembly Members, a link that contains the title “How are Welsh Assembly Members elected” is more relevant to the search than a link that contains the title “Flooding Hits the Welsh Assembly.”

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Figure 2 – Searching: Welsh Assembly Elections 2016; 2016.wales

Scrolling through the results, as highlighted in figure 2, we can see that one of the links has a ‘.wales’ domain name. This is a new top-level-domain, similar to .org, which was introduced in 2014 to advocate and promote Welsh language and culture. With this knowledge we can make assumptions about any site using the .wales domain would at least be using current information.

Another example of this can be seen highlighted in Figure 3. The search result notes the date that the article was published next to the description. With this information, the user can quickly sift through the information presented for links that are both current and relevance to their search. For example, searching for the Welsh Assembly Election I would want to find links posted within the last six months, and not from 2011 – the last election took place.

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Figure 2 – Searching: Welsh Assembly Elections 2016; BBC’s article

Figure 3 also demonstrates how we can interpret, both, the accuracy and authority of a link. Since this link has been attributed to the BBC, a well-respected public owned organization – which is funded by the public through the Television License, the user can assume that the information in the link has some accuracy and authority.

Domain: 2016.wales

For the purpose of this selection I will be analysing the 2016.wales site, a government hosted website that is dedicated to the supplying information about the upcoming Assembly Elections. Outlining how the site conveys its information, as well as determining whether or not the site meets the requirements HELLO

First, as a user we must verify as to whether the information is both accurate and written by a trusted source. We can do this by citing the Terms and Conditions located at bottom of the site;

“assembly.wales, cynulliad.cymru and senedd.tv are websites published and managed by the National Assembly for Wales Commission…”

Since the site is owned and ran by the Welsh government we can, again, make assumptions that the information presented on the site is actuate. Another important fact to note is none of the elect parties are listed as running the site, this also means that the information presented on this site won’t be bias to one party or another.

When entering a website the user is usually greeted with a splash page, or landing zone, which is an introductory page to site. When we first enter 2016.wales the homepage presents a wealth of information in bitesize segments about the elections, such as when do the elections take place and what public sectors the assembly have control over.

Form the home page users can select an aspect of the elections may would like to know more detail about, for example if I select the ‘How to Vote Section?’ This will redirect me to more detailed page cover how to register to vote, where your nearest polling station is, etc…

The information present in these sections is quite comprehensive to giving the user a base knowledge of the process; each page generally contains answers to Frequency Ask Question, or links to resources that will cover missing information.

2016.wales is design to supply this information to a wide demographic, this is evidence by the How to Vote page is presented, as seen in Figure 4.

4.jpgFigure 4 – How to Vote; You Tube Video

The purpose of this video is to give a brief explanation of Assembly Elections. What are the Assembly Elections, why and when they happen, and finally who they affect? This video is successful at conveys that information to its audience through the use of a simple narrative. Video follows the story of a younger voter, who has little to no knowledge of the elections, and takes a journey through the Welsh Assembly. At the end of the video the character has obtained enough information to make a vote.

This is video is aimed to appeal to a younger demographic that hasn’t necessarily voted before. From the animation, characters design and the simplistic explanation of the voting process, is trying to a make the politics involved as accessible so everyone can understand. This video represents the level of information the information the site is trying to present, a base understanding with links to resources fill in the blanks but doesn’t go to deep into the parties or candidates.

While the site does have a wealth of useful information about election; the site lacks any information about the actual candidates. This leaves a gap in the user’s knowledge, as the site present information on the public’s views in a way that could be interrupted ‘here are candidates and their views.’  As shown in Figure 5.

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Figure 5 – Misleading Section

While this information is clearly labelled, it’s easy for the user’s skim information and interrupt layout of the page incorrectly. Since the site doesn’t contain any information on any of the parties or candidates, this information can be found at the respective candidate’s party websites, for example as highlighted in Figure 6.

6.jpg

Figure 6 – Welsh Labour Website

As I mentioned before by reading the Terms and Conditions of 2016.wales, by the lack of information about them and the neutral colour scheme we know that the site isn’t influenced by any of the parties. This is subtle tool to help the use quickly associate who then runs the independent parties sites. For example, we associate the colour red with the Welsh Labour party, so when we visit there site and we encounter that colour we can quickly infer who operates this site.

While overall 2016.wales does contain enough information about the elections to give any demographic a base knowledge of the Assembly Elections, the site is more of a jumping off point for the user to use the resource provided and do their own research. Any while at the time of writing, the site has a few problems with broken links to resources, it gives you enough knowledge to know what information you’re missing and where you can go to find it.

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