Searching on the Internet
If you are on the Internet and type a philosophical concept or the name of a philosopher in the search bar of a search engine, such as Google, you will soon get dizzy from the number of pages found. For example, search for ‘Chinese Room’: you will find pages about the thought experiment by John Searle, but you may also book the Chinese room in Seattle for a party. How do you select the information you need from the 85 million hits, and how do you decide whether the website that you found is reliable?
Pay attention to Who, Where and When.
Who: who wrote the page? Can you find the name of the author or the name of the organisation behind the website? Did a professor write the page or is it written by a student? For example, check whether you can find an 'About us' on the website.
Where: this may be important, too. For example, would you use a Chinese website about Spinoza as the major source for your own research about Spinoza? (If you are doing research about the reception of Spinoza in China, this website might be quite interesting, of course.)
When: can you find out when the information was drawn up and when it was made up-to-date?
You can make an initial selection on the basis of the domain of the website found. If it ends in .edu or .ac.uk, the website originates from an American or English university.
With every website you visit, keep in mind that websites can be created by anybody!
Fortunately, a number of tools are available. The Internet Detective and Internet Philosopher of Intute are tutorials in English that help you to search the Internet: they make suggestions, show you tricks and make you aware of the possible pitfalls.
In addition, there are all sorts of websites that collect websites that are interesting for a certain discipline, such as philosophy. An example is Intute, an alliance of British universities. They offer access to web resources for research and education in philosophy (and other disciplines); the websites have been judged by relevance and quality. A similar website is Erratic Impact, made by an American university. This website has a subdivision by subject and philosopher.