OpensourcesOpenSources

Professionally curated lists of online sources, available free for public use.

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Who we are:

OpenSources is a curated resource for assessing online information sources, available for public use. Websites in this resource range from credible news sources to misleading and outright fake websites. Headed by Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College, our research team is dedicated to preserving the integrity and enhancing the transparency of information on the internet.

Mission:

Our mission is to empower people to find reliable information online.

To this end, we provide a continuously updated database of information sources for developers to leverage in the fight against fake, false, conspiratorial, and misleading news. Our database is maintained by professionals who have analyzed each source, looking for overall inaccuracy, extreme biases, lack of transparency, and other kinds of misinformation.

Tags:

Open Sources uses combinations of the following tags to classify each website we assess.

Fake News (tag fake) Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports

Satire (tag satire) Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.

Extreme Bias (tag bias) Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.

Conspiracy Theory (tag conspiracy): Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.

Rumor Mill (tag rumor) Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

State News (tag state) Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.

Junk Science (tag junksci) Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.

Hate News (tag hate) Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

Clickbait (tag clickbait) Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.

Proceed With Caution (tag unreliable) Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification.

Political (tag political) Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.

Credible (tag reliable) Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).

Our Methods:

Step 1: Title/Domain Analysis. If “.wordpress” “.com.co” appear in the title -- or any slight variation on a well known website-- this is usually a sign there is a problem.

Step 2: About Us Analysis. Google every title/domain name/anyone listed in the “About Us” section to see if anyone has previously reported on the website (snopes, hoax-slayer, factcheck.org, etc.) or whether it has a Wikipedia page with citations or something similar detailing its background. This is useful for identifying and correctly categorizing lesser known and/or new websites that may be on the up-and-up, such as satirical sources or websites that are explicit about their political orientation.

Step 3: Source Analysis. Does the website mention/link to a study or source? Look up the source/study. Is it being accurately reflected and reported? Are officials being cited? Can a primary source be located for its quotations? Some media literacy and critical scholars call this triangulation: Verify details, facts, quotes, etc. with multiple sources.

Step 4: Writing Style Analysis. Does the website follow AP Style Guide? Typically, lack of style guide use signifies questionable, more opinion-oriented practices, and may indicate an overall lack of editing or fact-checking process. Does it frequently use ALL CAPS in headlines and/or body text? Does the headline or body of the text use phrases like "WOW!!!!"? This stylistic practice and these types of hyperbolic word choices are often used to create emotional responses with readers that is avoided in more traditional journalism and isn’t something that would be permitted or encouraged by the AP Style Guide

Step 5: Aesthetic Analysis. Like the style-guide, many fake and questionable news sites utilize very bad design. Are screens are cluttered and they use heavy-handed photo-shopping or born digital images?

Step 6: Social Media Analysis. Look up the website on Facebook. Do the headlines and posts rely on sensational or provocative language (aka click-bait) in order to attract attention and encourage likes, click-throughs, and shares? Do the headlines and social media descriptions match or accurately reflect the content of the linked article? (this step isn’t particularly good at helping us find fake news, but it can help us identify other misleading news sources)

By considering all of these areas of information we can determine which category or categories a website may occupy, although all categorizations are by necessity open to discussion and revision. For more information about analyzing the credibility of sources, please see this resource.

Disclaimer The information contained in this site is for informational and educational purposes only. We have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this site and in our downloadable data is reliable; however, we are not responsible for any errors, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is” and “as available,” with no guarantee of accuracy, reliability, completeness, or of the services or results obtained from the use of this information. By using OpenSources, you expressly agree that the use of OpenSources and its data is at your sole risk.

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