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CAS 100A: Effective Speech (Thomas)

SIFT: The Four Moves

Having trouble evaluating resources you find online?

SIFT to find quality sources online! SIFT: the four moves, a approach created by Mike Caulfield in 2017. This skill has been taken on by many fact checkers to determine if a source is factual and trustworthy. 

SIFT focuses on 4 concise steps. SIFT does not solely evaluate the source in front of you, but instead,  goes outside of it, finding other sources that either prove or deny the claim you are reading.

The idea of SIFT comes from Mike Caulfield and is reused here under a Creative Commons license.


STOP. This move is the easiest.

First, when you find a page or post and start to read it — STOP, pause and ask yourself whether you know the website or source of the information, and what their reputation is. If you don’t know that information off hand, continue with the next 3 moves to get a sense of what you’re looking at.

The most important part is, -- Don’t read or share media until you know more about the source

Investigate the source

Investigate the source.

You do not need to do a full-scale investigation into the source, take a minute to identify where this information comes from. Consider the creator's expertise, what makes them credible to write about this topic? What is their agenda? Is it to inform you, anger you, or sell you something?

Find out what others have said about the author or organization! Use Google or Wikipedia to find out more about the source of information.


Find trusted coverage

Find trusted coverage 

Does the information seem to good to be true? You want to know if the claim you are reading is true or false, if it represents a consensus viewpoint, or if it is the subject of much disagreement.

Go out and find trusted coverage on this topic. Go and use google again or to a source you know is reputable more trusted, more in-depth, or maybe just more varied. Scan multiple sources and reputable newspapers on the same topic and see if they are all saying the same thing.


Trace back to the original source.

TRACE claims, quotes, and media back to the original context.

Often online information has been removed or stripped from its original context, so its not the original reporting, it is a re-report. By time that story has been re-reported so many times the person you are reading it from might not have even looked at the original source or done any original reporting.  

In these cases, you have trace the claim, quote, or media back to the first source, so you can see it in it’s original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented, or only representing a part of it that they want you to see.