When I entered the term ‘fashion’ in Google, the top search results did not surprise me. Most of the top results were either paid links or popular web destinations for fashion enthusiasts, celebrity followers, and shoppers such as Vogue, US Weekly, and QVC. When I checked the articles, they were quite similar to those found in blogs. In other words, these seemed quite like gossip and opinion articles rather than scholarly pieces of information or proper journalism.
I feel the web search results are determined by the popularity of the site or the commercial potential of the sites to Google because ad sales account for significant percentage of company’s total revenues. This also reminds us that the top links are not always more reliable or fulfill the criteria of scholarly sources. However, one can adopt certain measures to differentiate between credible and non-credible sources when using the search engine such as the reputation of the website and information about the author of the article.
If we only relied on the search engines for our information, we will frequently end up with non-credible information. We might also end up using opinion pieces as if they are objective sources. While search engines can help us find information in a timely fashion, it is our job to make sure we are using credible sources and we can differentiate between objective facts and opinion pieces that tend to be subjective in nature. The results of the search engine also remind us that the search engines are used by all kind of users whose information needs may be quite different from that of a student looking for reliable and objective facts. As a result, other sources such as academic journals may be more reliable because they are specifically aimed at audience members looking for scholarly information.