Domain Discuss : This is a place to learn about and discuss grant authorities on the web. With Domain Discuss, the Free Grants Community offers a regularly updated feature to rate and discuss grant information from other sites. Some of those sites are government sites (those whose url's end in ”.gov”) and can be trusted. Others may be trustworthy but are not provided by the government, even though they may appear to be. For example, missingmoney.com, which we review below, looks very much like a government site. It is supported by many states, but it is privately owned. (You should check it out to find out by whom – and to see who's making money off of it!) There are also a number of ads on the site but note the tiny print at the bottom to remind you that while they are on this government-looking site, they are not necessarily approved or recommended by the government. Always check to see if the url of the site you are looking at has a ”.gov” at the end of it – that is a sure way to know whether it's a true government site. We include our assessment of each reviewed site so you are forewarned if there may be issues with the site.
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Domain Examples We start with a few examples of the domains we review to give you an idea of what you will find:
- In a very useful review of usa.gov we introduce you to this site which offers information on just about anything you'd like to know about the USA. From how to find who your representatives are to recent lottery drawing results to how to buy stuff the government has up for sale this is the place to get it! There is also good information about finances, taxes, saving for retirement and more.
- The discussion of va.gov is an excellent introduction to this very large site and all the programs, services and benefits available to vets. The review is not static but is updated with news and site modifications when changes occur. For example an update earlier in the year reported on changes occurring with the Trump administration and the appointment of a new person in charge of the agency. And very recently we updated the page with news about the proposed (increased!) budget for the VA in 2018 and what areas would be receiving more focus and a boost in resources. For example, the increased budget of $186 billion includes an emphasis on health care services and making them more convenient and easily accessible. And more patients will be served.
- The review of fastweb.com and finaid.org should be required reading for students and parents trying to figure out how to pay for college! Each is a very useful site but this article will help you go in with your eyes wide open…
- In our review of grants.gov we explain why it may frustrate you and what you can (and can't) really use it for.
- In benefits.gov we show you how best to find all the benefits you may qualify for.
- In missing money.com we give a heads up on who really owns the site and what they may be getting out of it…. you're pretty sure to be surprised. While the site is useful you must be aware that the ads on the site are not endorsed by the federal or state governments though it may appear that they are. And while they call themselves the only “national” search website they really only include “participating states” – and not all states participate. So don't assume that if you do a search there you have covered all your bases. For example, if you were to miss searching in a state like California you could miss out on a lot. California is currently holding something like $80 billion in unclaimed property – and most of it is in cash!.
- In our latest review ssa.gov, we clarify what Social Security means to you, what you may be able to apply for, and one approach to figuring out when to start your retirement benefits. Also find out how to double check their take on your earnings record!
Back to Domain Quality Guidelines:
With each domain, there are a set of guidelines that we consider most important. Some of these guidelines are obvious, like “honesty”, and others are less intuitive, like “use of technology”. Here's a list of criteria we draw from when reviewing a site. We welcome feedback and participation from the Community to continually improve our content:
- Does the site have a clear stated purpose? Usually we want to see the purpose stated in clear bold letters at the top of every page. If we visit a site and can leave wondering what it was about, that's not good. The organization's products, services and goals should be immediately obvious.
- Is the site engaging? If we don't want to build a relationship with this site (perhaps bookmark it or add it to our RSS feed reader) then we're unlikely to think much of it. While being engaging, we also want to be sure the site is not manipulative or otherwise dishonest.
- Is it easy to navigate and use the website? We would hope that every webpage is no more than a couple clicks away. Likewise, we shouldn't be able to get lost while browsing webpages. We also think about the use of colors and lists when we consider the site's usability.
- Do I need to register as a user to make full use of the site? What benefits do I receive as a user? You should never pay for grant information or assistance online. The vast majority of websites that require money for registration are scams.
- Is the information provided up-to-date? Nothing is more frustrating than following up on an opportunity only to find that it was posted and claimed last year. We'll look closely at relevancy as we browse sites to be sure that current information is also directly related to the site's purpose.
- If the site is offering a product or service that you must pay for, does it have a good reputation? We note whether a site has any (or many) Facebook fans or Google +1's for instance. We also go to the Better Business Bureau to see if the sponsoring company is rated and if it has received complaints.
- Finally, and this is a big one for us as a wiki community, does the website provide user-contributed information? This can range from comments to forums and wikis to instant messaging. In our experience, the most trustworthy sites are those with a vibrant and diverse community.
Have more suggestions? Share them in the Community!