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Best of the Mac Web Survey

November 2001

Dan Knight

The second Best of the Mac Web (BOTMW) survey, an opinion poll covering a good segment of the independent Mac Web, is done. Voting took place over a nine-day period, and over 2,000 people shared their opinion of some of the best known Mac-related sites on the Web - as well as a few of the newest.

We ran the first BOTMW survey in April, starting with 40 sites and adding six more during the survey period. Adding sites during the survey was a mistake; it made it impossible for us to compare how well known those sites were with the other 40. This time around we started with a larger sampling and didn't add any more sites once the survey had begun.

We created the first survey with a list of 25-30 sites I visited regularly or found marked as SiteLink Top 20 sites, and then asked other Mac webmasters nominate others, bringing the list to 40. We began the current list with over 40 sites from the first survey and added over a dozen that hadn't been in that survey.

If your favorite site wasn't listed, it may have been an oversight (we've missed Macworld both times), unfamiliarity (several readers emailed me about sites I'd never heard of), or the fact that we're trying to keep the survey to a reasonable size. At 56 sites, it was larger than I wanted it to be. Next time we'll aim for 50.

We attempted to contact the publisher or webmaster of the sites listed, giving them the opportunity to add a link to the survey and have the opinions of their visitors counted. However, it's hard to find an email contact on some sites, so we were not able to contact every site in the survey.

We encouraged publishers to link to the survey specifically so we could poll a broad cross-section of Mac Web visitors. With enough sites sending their visitors, that keeps results from getting spiked by a strong push from a single site.

To some extent, this can't help but be a popularity contest. In fact, that is one of two things we hoped to learn - how well known various sites are. The other is what you, the reader, think of these sites. This is an opinion poll, not a scientific survey.

We deliberately included some newer sites with the twofold purpose of finding out how well they are making themselves known and possibly introducing you to them.

Best Known on the Mac Web

In the first survey, the best known site received 1,210 votes and the average was 617 votes per site. This time out, the best known site received 2,055 votes and the average rose to 736 votes per site. The following list simply ranks sites by the number of votes received.

  1. MacOS Rumors
  2. As the Apple Turns
  3. MacCentral
  4. MacAddict
  5. VersionTracker
  6. MacFixIt
  7. MacNN
  8. MacInTouch
  9. Accelerate Your Mac
  10. Low End Mac
  11. Think Secret
  12. Go2Mac.com
  13. TidBITS
  14. MacSlash
  15. DealMac
  16. Mac Observer
  17. ResExcellence
  18. MacSurfer's Headline News
  19. MacMinute
  20. Applelinks
  21. Inside Mac Games
  22. Mac Rumors
  23. Bare Feats
  24. Mac Evangelist
  25. osOpinion
  26. MacGamer
  27. PowerBook Zone
  28. MacEdition
  1. MacUser UK
  2. Insanely Great Mac
  3. The Mac Show
  4. About This Particular Macintosh
  5. Mac Resource Page
  6. Macinstein
  7. Macworld UK
  8. Applelust
  9. MacSpeedZone
  10. MacWindows
  11. Bite.org
  12. MacOpinion
  13. Mac Night Owl
  14. MacReviewZone
  15. PowerBook Source
  16. Daily Mac
  17. Chez Mark
  18. Right On Mac
  19. Macs Only!
  20. Pure Mac
  21. Working Mac
  22. The Mac Mind
  23. MyAppleMenu
  24. Webintosh
  25. MyMac
  26. AppleTechs
  27. macXcess
  28. Portable Mac

For the most part, the better known sites have been on the Web longer than the lesser known sites. The highest number of votes for a site less than a year old was 785 for MacMinute, which is #19 on this list.

Best of the Mac Web

In this section sites are ranked by the average opinion of those who rated them. We counted 1 point for unacceptable, 2 for poor, 3 for average, 4 for good, and 5 for excellent. This total was divided by the total number of votes cast for the site, resulting in scores ranging from 2.79 to 4.66 (if these were letter grades, that would be from C- to A-). Average scores are reported to two decimal places unless we need a third digit to complete the ranking.

Note that some sites are lower in the ratings because we looked at 56 sites this time around - that's 10 more than last time.

Best of the Mac Web Award

The numbers in parentheses Best of the Mac Webrepresent the score followed by the popularity ranking of the site. The first group of sites scored a 4.0 or higher are entitled to post our "Best of the Mac Web, November 2001" badge.

We had a tie at first place - both AtAT and VersionTracker had a score of 4.661. In cases of a tie, we will list the better known site first.

1. As the Apple Turns (4.661/2)

AtAT was the 11th best known site and the 10th best rated site in the first Best of the Mac Web Survey. This time AtAT fans came in droves. The site, launched in 1997, is the top rated site and the second best known site in the survey.

1. VersionTracker (4.661/5)

Tied with AtAT, VersionTracker had an average score of 4.661, slightly down from 4.69 in the last survey. With a history going back to 1996, it is the 5th best known site on this survey. This was a step down from #1 in both categories on our earlier survey - but still impressive.

3. MacFixIt (4.53/6)

MacFixIt started in March 1996 as an online appendix to Sad Mac, Bombs & Disasters. It remains one of those indispensable online resources for anyone who needs to support Macs. MacFixIt was #2 in the last survey, but the meteoric rise of AtAT in this survey bumped it down.

4. MacSurfer's Headline News (4.48/18)

Considered a must visit by many Mac Web users, MacSurfer has been posting dozens of links to new content on dozens of sites since 1995 and is updated several times daily. The 4.48 score is slightly improved from 4.42 in the last survey.

5. TidBITS (4.39/13)

Adam Engst emailed the first TidBITS newsletter on April 16, 1990, making it the granddaddy of Mac Web sites. The 4.39 score is a significant improvement over 4.01 in the last survey. Although highly respected, TidBITS was the 15th best known site in our last survey and the 13th best known in this one.

6. ResExcellence (4.28/17)

I'm not into hacking system resources, but enough people are to make ResExcellence, a ResEdit user's delight since 1997, the 17th most popular and 6th most respected site in this survey - the same place it held in the last survey.

7. Accelerate Your Mac (4.18/9)

Another site started in 1997, Accelerate Your Mac is about getting the most performance from your Mac, mostly by picking the best accelerator, hard drive, video card, etc. The site's score is almost unchanged from the last survey.

8. MacInTouch (4.17/8)

Billed as "The original Mac news and information site since 1994," MacInTouch is a daily visit for a lot of Mac users. The site drops to #8 in popularity from 6th place in our previous survey, and it's score drops slightly from 4.23 to 4.17.

9. Low End Mac (4.15/10)

Low End Mac (LEM) has been providing helpful resources for Mac users since April 1997 and remains a Top Ten site - even if we did drop a spot from #8 in the last survey. LEM is the 10th best known site among those polled, a drop from #7 last time around.

10. DealMac (4.10/15)

Yes another site launched in 1997, DealMac helps Mac users find some pretty impressive deals. Although bumped back from #9 by the ascent of AtAT, DealMac's score is almost identical to last time around.

11. MacMinute (4.07/19)

Launched at the end of May, MacMinute is the highest rated new site in this survey. It's a fast-loading page offering more than just headline links and updated several times per day.

Rest of the Mac Web

These sites fell short of the arbitrary 4.00 score to earn the "Best of the Mac Web" badge. Some came very close; others fell much lower on the list.

12. MacNN (3.994/7)

The #4 site in our last survey, MacNN has fallen eight spots in the ratings since our last survey. The 3.994 score is a big drop from 4.24 last time around, and the site that was the 5th best known in the April poll is #7 this time around.

13. MacSlash (3.988/14)

Based on the "slash" code created by Slashdot, MacSlash provides news links and a place to discuss the topics of the day for Mac users. MacSlash has risen one spot from the previous survey and has a slightly higher score (3.988 vs. 3.92) this time around.

14. Inside Mac Games (3.88/21)

Moving up five slots from the April survey, Inside Mac Games has seen a small score improvement (3.88 vs. 3.80) while remaining at about the same level of popularity (21 this time, 19 last time).

15. The Mac Show (3.82/32)

The Mac Show is heard live every Wednesday from 9-11 p.m. Eastern Time. It jumped from an obscure 33rd spot in the last survey to #15, saw its score jump from 3.44 to 3.82, and increased in popularity from 34th place to 32nd. Congratulations, Shawn!

16. MacCentral (3.814/3)

Another news site slipping in the ratings, MacCentral dropped from #13 in the last survey to #16 this time around as its score dropped from 3.96 to 3.814. It also declined from being the 2nd best known site in the survey to 3rd place - more on the best known site below.

17. The Mac Observer (3.812/16)

Founded in January 1997 as Webintosh, the site changed ownership and became The Mac Observer (TMO) in December 1998. A combination of news, analysis, commentary, and press releases, TMO provides a good mix of content and is updated several times each day. TMO is down two spots in the ratings, virtually tied with MacCentral, has a slightly lower score than last time (3.812 vs. 3.89), and has dropped from the 12th best known site to #16 this time around (mostly due to additional sites in this survey). It has held its ground while several news sites have seen large drops.

18. Bare Feats (3.77/23)

I've enjoyed Bare Feats since the day I discovered it. Rob-Art Morgan, who bills himself as a Mad Mac Scientist, has been posting benchmarks for years. Always an interesting mix of test results and interesting commentary, his reports are both educational and fun to read. Bare Feats has moved up one slot in this survey and increased its score from 3.675 to 3.77.

19. MacGamer (3.73/26)

Formerly Mac Gamer's Ledge, MacGamer has jumped from #22 in the last survey by increasing their score from 3.61 to 3.73 while also moving up on slot in popularity (from 27 to 26).

20. PowerBook Zone (3.70/27)

Started on July 4, 1998, The PowerBook Zone is the highest rated PowerBook site in the survey. It is also the highest rated site that should have been in our first survey.

21. MacWindows (3.66/38)

Another site we shouldn't have overlooked last time, MacWindows bills itself as "the Web site for Macintosh-Windows integration solutions." If you're stuck using both operating systems, whether on a network or on a single computer, MacWindows is an invaluable resource.

22. osOpinion (3.65/25)

osOpinion is part of the NewsFactor Network and is more popular (25th best known, up from 29) and more highly regarded (22nd place vs. 35th) than in our last survey. The sites score has increased from 3.41 to 3.65. While not strictly a Macintosh site, I consider osOpinion a "stealth" Mac site - it provides a lot of content critical of Windows and favoring both the Mac and Linux.

23. MacAddict (3.63/4)

Down two slots from #21 in the last survey, the MacAddict site has almost the same score. It has also slipped two slots in popularity, moving from the 4th best known site to 6th place in this survey.

24. Mac Resource Page (3.58/33)

One of the older sites on the Mac Web, MRP's roots go back to 1996. MRP is mostly news links with some advice and commentary. It has declined from 20th place in our April 2001 survey, its score has dropped just a bit from 3.63 to 3.58, and popularity has decreased from 21st place to 33rd.

25. Applelinks (3.552/20)

Started as a page with Apple links in 1997, Applelinks features daily content from John H. Farr and Charles Moore, a daily audio report by Shawn King of The Mac Show, and articles by several other regular contributors. The site has slipped slightly from 23rd place to tie for 25th, more due to sites on the this survey that weren't listed last time. The site's score has dropped a tiny bit from 3.59 to 3.552. The real disappointment, however, is that they were the 14th best known site in the April survey but are now 20th.

25. MacEdition (3.552/28)

Tied at 25th place, MacEdition bills itself as having "industry-leading news and analysis." News? Not really. Analysis? Sometimes. I'm especially partial to CodeBitch's rantings against nonstandard, noncompliant HTML. The site ranks 25th by score (up from 36) and 28th by popularity.

27. MacSpeedZone (3.538/37)

In our last survey, we lumped MacSpeedZone and MacReviewZone together; this time we polled visitors separately. The performance site has moved up one notch in the ranking.

28. MacUser UK (3.536/29)

Down three spots from the last survey (due to additions to this survey), MacUser UK has stayed the course and retained almost exactly the same score, rank, and popularity as last time out.

29. Macworld UK (3.51/35)

Like MacUser UK, Macworld UK holds almost precisely the same place as in our April survey, although it has slipped in popularity from 24 to 35.

30. Mac EvangeList (3.49/24)

Remember when the Mac was on the ropes and Guy Kawasaki's EvangeList galvanized the troops? Those days are long gone, but the EvangeList lives on. The list is well known (24th best known in this survey), but has dropped in the ratings. It was rated #17 in our first survey, but drops to 30th this time, and its score has decreased from 3.80 to 3.49.

31. Go2Mac.com (3.44/12)

Once the premier PowerBook site on the Web, O'Grady's PowerPage has become Go2Mac.com and now covers 'Books, Palms, and iPods. It is the 12th best known site in our survey, up one spot from April, and is just one notch lower in the ranking that last time.

32. About This Particular Macintosh (3.44/32)

ATPM is the top rated Mac ezine in our survey and the 32nd best know site according to this poll. It was not included in the previous survey.

33. Pure Mac (3.42/48)

If you like to make sure you have the latest version of your software, Pure Mac is the best rated alternative to VersionTracker. Pure Mac's score matches that of the previous poll, and 33rd place is basically holding its own considering all the newcomers in this survey. However, it remains near the bottom as far as how many people know about the site.

34. Think Secret (3.41/11)

We explicitly skipped rumor sites in the first survey because we didn't want people to come over just to vote for or against their favorite rumor monger. We added them this time, and Think Secret got the highest rating of the bunch. It's also the 11th best known site in this survey - very impressive, Mr. dePlume.

35. Insanely Great Mac (3.38/30)

The roots of Insanely Great Mac (IGM) go back to 1995, although it didn't take its current name until 1997. The current score is identical to the last poll, although its popularity has slipped a bit. Still, the site managed to move up two slots in the ranks despite the addition of so many new sites this time around.

36. MacReviewZone (3.37/42)

Because MacReviewZone and MacSpeedZone (#27) were polled together in our first survey, we really can't speak of MacReviewZone slipping in the polls, but it does fare more poorly and is less widely know than its performance oriented sibling site.

37. MacOS Rumors (3.36/1)

There's popularity - and then there's notoriety. MacOS Rumors (MOSR) has been dishing up rumors since 1995 and is the best known rumor site. It's also the best known site in our survey (2,055 votes), but it's far from the most respected site on the Web.

38. Chez Mark (3.32/45)

How many software update sites does the Web need? We only discovered Chez Mark because it was a top rated site on SiteLink, where it consistently receives a Top 20 rank. We think that may be because it's first alphabetically among software sites. Pure Mac is less well known but more highly regarded. Like Pure Mac, Chez Mark has held its place in the current survey.

39. PowerBook Source (3.30/43)

PBS has been a longtime favorite 'Book resource, but it's slipping in the ratings. PBS was #32 in our last poll, but it's #39 this time. Its score drops from 3.46 to 3.30, and it goes from being the 28th best known site (among 40 rated sites) to 43rd place among 56.

40. Macs Only! (3.29/47)

Updated daily since 1995, Bill Fox's Macs Only! site has long been a personal favorite. It's not as well known as it deserves to be. The site's score has slipped from 3.44 to 3.29, but popularity is about the same (33rd out of 40 rated sites in April vs. 40th out of 56 sites this time).

41. Working Mac (3.28/49)

Another new site carving out a niche for itself, Working Mac is intended for professional Mac users, especially IS/IT types. The site was launched in July 2001.

42. MacOpinion (3.27/40)

MacOpinion may have been the first commentary-only site on the Mac Web, but it is a shadow of its former self. Regular contributors are Charles Moore, Philip Machanick, and Marc Zeedar; between them the site usually has 2-4 new articles per week. MacOpinion was 34th in our last survey and has dropped several spots to reach #42 - mostly due to new sites. The site's score has dropped from 3.42 to 3.27 while popularity has plummeted from 25 to 40.

43. Mac Night Owl (3.26/41)

Gene Steinberg's Mac Night Owl (our apologies for mistyping it on the survey) bills itself as "your complete Mac support site." It's a great place to stop to see what's on Steinberg's mind, since the site has new material almost every weekday. The site's score has also improved from 3.13 to 3.26, one of the better increases in this survey. Mac Night Owl holds 43rd place in both surveys.

44. Right On Mac (3.21/46)

Right On Mac is definitely a Mac advocacy site, and it has improved in the standings - last time it was the 40th most popular site out of 40 rated sites; now it's 46th out of 56. Right On Mac's score of 3.21 is almost identical to its 3.22 last time around.

45. Applelust (3.16/36)

Applelust specializes in lengthy academic articles. The site scored 3.04 in our first survey and improves that to 3.16. It also goes from second-to-last place (45 out of 46 sites) to 45th of 56 sites in this poll. In terms of popularity, it was the 31st best known site in April 2001 and is in 36th place now - the slippage due to sites added to this survey.

46. Webintosh (3.13/52)

Webintosh is a new blog published by Dan Hughes, the creator of the original Webintosh (now The Mac Observer). It's about Macs and other things, which is the blog pattern. Although not yet widely known, the 3.13 score puts Webintosh 46th on this survey of 56 sites.

47. The Daily Mac (3.10/44)

Formerly The Daily iMac, this site often goes for long periods with few or no updates - a real shame, since when Amy Hoy has something to say, she says it very well. The Daily Mac slid from 40th place in the previous survey to 47th place, and its score has declined from 3.18 to 3.10.

48. AppleTechs (3.068/54)

Another new Mac troubleshooting resource, AppleTechs deserves to be better known. Although new, it is already finding a following.

49. Mac Rumors (3.063/22)

Mac Rumors is a Slashdot-like Mac rumor site and is new to this survey. The site has a low score and is well known, rating as the 22nd best known site in this survey.

50. Macinstein (3.05/34)

You might not know what to make of Macinstein from its cluttered home page, but it's turned into mostly a commentary site. The biggest improvement since the last survey is signed (no longer anonymous) articles. Macinstein drops from 41st place in the last poll and its score decreases from 3.16 to 3.05.

51. MyMac (3.04/53)

New to this survey is MyMac, an ezine. The score is "average" and it is not particularly well known, rating as the 53rd best known site out of 56.

52. Mac Mind (3.02/50)

Last time out Mac Mind rated 44th out of 46 sites; this time it's 52nd out of 56. Mac Mind remains a relatively unknown site, scoring 50th out of the 56 sites in this survey.

53. MyAppleMenu (2.96/51)

Formerly known as AppleSurf, this site took last place in our April survey; now it has three sites behind it. An interesting hybrid of news links with commentary, headline links, and commentary, it's a daily visit at LEM headquarters. The site's score was 3.01 in the earlier survey and has slipped just a bit to 2.96.

54. Portable Mac (2.88/56)

Another new site, Portable Mac is all about iBooks and PowerBooks and iPods and Palms. It is the least known site in this survey, which could be due to the fact that it's only a couple weeks old. It looks promising.

55. Bite.org (2.89/39)

A new site with an intriguing logo (an apple with a bite out of each side) and a biting personality, we'd like to see everyone pop over and see if it's their cup of tea. Moderately well known (39th out of 56 sites), Bite.org has a low score.

56. macXcess (2.79/55)

Holding up the bottom of the survey is macXcess, an OS X site (we'll have to add more OS X sites in the next survey). Launched in July 2001, the site is relatively unknown (55 out of 56) and has a low score.

Weighted Rating

New to this survey is a weighted rating that looks at both how well known a site is and how well respected it is. The score is generated by multiplying the square root of the number of responses by the score.

  1. As the Apple Turns
  2. VersionTracker
  3. MacFixIt
  4. MacCentral
  5. MacNN
  6. MacInTouch
  7. MacAddict
  8. Accelerate Your Mac
  9. MacOS Rumors
  10. Low End Mac
  11. TidBITS
  12. DealMac
  13. ResExcellence
  14. MacSlash
  15. MacSurfer's Headline News
  16. Mac Observer
  17. Think Secret
  18. Go2Mac.com
  19. MacMinute
  20. Inside Mac Games
  21. Applelinks
  22. Bare Feats
  23. osOpinion
  24. MacGamer
  25. PowerBook Zone
  26. The Mac Show
  27. Mac Evangelist
  28. MacEdition
  1. Mac Rumors
  2. MacUser UK
  3. Mac Resource Page
  4. Macworld UK
  5. Insanely Great Mac
  6. MacWindows
  7. About This Particular Macintosh
  8. MacSpeedZone
  9. Applelust
  10. Macinstein
  11. MacOpinion
  12. MacReviewZone
  13. Mac Night Owl
  14. PowerBook Source
  15. Bite.org
  16. Pure Mac
  17. Chez Mark
  18. Daily Mac
  19. Macs Only!
  20. Working Mac
  21. Right On Mac
  22. Webintosh
  23. The Mac Mind
  24. MyAppleMenu
  25. MyMac
  26. AppleTechs
  27. Portable Mac
  28. macXcess

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Third Best of the Mac Web Survey

Sometime in the Spring of 2002 we'll be doing this again. We'll start with the 40 top rated sites from this survey, then add 10-20 more sites (we'd like to keep to 50 total, but we'll see what happens). Some will be new. Some will be ones we missed this time. And some might make a repeat appearance despite failing to make the 40 top this time.

We already have a preliminary list of "must add" sites that begins with Macworld - I don't know how we've missed it both times around, especially since the UK sister site was listed.


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