How to Find the Author of a Website

By Jacob Andrew

In the age of questionable online content, it's key to verify that the sources you're reading are credible ones. Many websites may obscure the author's name, either by accident or design. You can, however, find information about the author by emailing the site owner, performing a special search, and even searching for that text elsewhere.

Finding Clues in the Text

Some disreputable websites intentionally remove author attribution when the text is illegally reprinted without permission, but search engines can help you find the original author. To do this, copy a significant portion of the article -- approximately 15-30 words worth of the content -- and paste it into the search bar. Place quotation marks on either end of the pasted text, then click the search button. Many of the best search engines will turn up the source of the text among its top results.

WHOIS That Author

Another tool for tracking down the author is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers WHOIS database. WHOIS information is information required whenever a domain name is purchased from a domain registrar. For websites owned by a single author, this could not only yield a name, but also relevant contact information. However, this isn't a sure thing -- the owner of the domain may not be necessarily the author of the content, so more work is likely required to find the author name. Website owners may also use a proxy service that hides the owner's information from all except law enforcement.

It Never Hurts to Ask

Many organization simply forget to attribute the article to a single person. News organizations, in particular, can post articles under a "staff" account, even if there was one primary author working on the article. In these instances, you'll need to contact the editorial staff or the listed owner of the website and ask who the official author was. News organizations and smaller blogs, particularly, are often happy to oblige. If you cannot find contact information on the website or through a WHOIS lookup, try leaving a comment at the end of the article.

Sifting Through Code

When all else fails, you can also attempt to look through the raw code of a website. Many modern content management systems actually include username information, even if that information is not openly published. By viewing the source code of the page, it's possible to find clues about the authorship hidden in otherwise unused meta tags. The option to view the page source is available as a context-click item in most major browsers (see Resources).