Judge: web sites for health
Links to other Web sites can be useful sources of information. However you must first decide if your organisation wishes to make any links at all.
Reasons for linking
- The whole purpose and benefit of the Web is linking to other sites.
- Links give your users access to further information, for example other organisations and resources in the same field or information on related topics which you do not cover.
- You can guide your users to good quality sites.
- Links allow people to check what you’ve said.
Reasons against linking
- You need to check the trustworthiness of the organisation, the quality of their Web site, the reliability of their content.
- Sites change. You need the people and time to check that links still work and that the sites’ quality has stayed the same.
- You can’t check the sites that the sites you link to link to in their turn, and so on.
- You could be open to legal challenge if someone was damaged from information obtained from a site you linked to.
- It could be safer and easier not to link.
You need to take responsibility for any external links you make
- Establish policies and procedures and publish these on your site.
- Establish criteria for judging the quality of Web sites and publish these on your site: (a) use these ‘Judge: Web site for health. Support group guidelines’;
(b) use other quality guidelines – many are available.
- Check out the organisation and assess their Web site and its content using these quality criteria.
- Linking can raise copyright issues: (a) check if they have given global permission on their site to allow people to make links, particularly deep linking; (a) if not, ask permission of the organisation to link to their site.
- Put a disclaimer about links on your site.
- Include the Web address as part of the link text, for example ‘http://www.google.co.uk’ not just ‘Google’. (a) When a person prints a page of your site the link will still make sense.
- Make it clear to a user that they are linking to another site, for example: (a) a message saying they are leaving the current site; (b) a new browser window opening when they click on the link.
- Make sure that the links still exist, by checking them on a regular basis.
If you have linked to another organisation’s Web site, it does not automatically mean they will place a link on their site to your site. If you want them to do so, write to them with details of your site, its aims and URL, and ask if they will link to you in return.
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