“What has the Internet ever done for us?” it is tempting to ask on occasion, given the overwhelming amount of vacuous junk we see online. Not to mention the black hole of time that the likes of Facebook can be for its high volume users.
But there is a lot of really useful information out there also. Take reference websites. Wikipedia is interesting in its breadth of topics (9.25m articles in 250 languages), but its user-generated nature makes it notoriously unreliable at times, particularly for topical issues.
Three great reference websites are Snopes.com, Thesaurus.com and The Economist Style Guide.
Urban myth buster Snopes.com, as well as endlessly entertaining, is a good site for checking chain emails before forwarding them ‘to everyone you care about’ or whatever. Melodramatic warnings about computer viruses or exhortations to boycott this or that designer for unconscionable behaviour are examined and categorised as true or false, with external sources cited for verification.
Thesaurus.com offers myriad suggestions for the elusive mot juste and its sister dictionary.com provides definitions as well as the opportunity to expand your vocabulary by signing up for their word-a-day in English or in Spanish.
The style book given to all journalists at The Economist is available online, and is an excellent resource for pedants and perfectionists keen to avoid solecisms, ensure correct usage of capitals, abbreviations or punctuation, or to pit their wits against the Economist in the style guide quiz.