Best of the Mac Web Survey Results

March 2002

Dan Knight - 2002.03.21

The third Best of the Mac Web (BotMW) survey, an opinion poll covering a good segment of the independent Mac Web, is finished. Voting took place over a two week period, and 4,000 Mac fans shared their opinion of 50 of the best known Mac-related sites - including one of the newest.

We ran the first BotMW survey in April 2000, 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. After that we started with a larger sampling and didn't add any more sites once the survey had begun.

The second BotMW survey included 56 sites, ten more than the first survey. It was followed by our first Rest of the Mac Web survey at the end of November 2001, which included 41 sites.

We began the current list with the 40 best rated sites from the second BotMW survey, added some leading sites from "the Rest," and included Shawn King's new site, Your Mac Life. We'll be following this survey with our second Rest of the Mac Web survey next week.

We attempted to contact the publisher of each site before going public, giving them the opportunity to add a link to the survey and have the opinions of their visitors counted. We also ran the survey for two weeks, twice as long as. In the future this will be our standard.

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

To some extent, this remains a popularity contest. In fact, that is one of two things we hoped to learn - how well known various sites are. The other thing, and our primary concern, is learning what you think of these sites.

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. The second time out, the best known site received 2,055 votes and the average rose to 736 votes per site. This time the best known site received 2,963 votes, the average was 1,197, and the least known site received 373 votes.

The following list simply ranks sites by the number of votes received. The number in parentheses is their popularity in the previous BotMW survey.

  1. VersionTracker (5)
  2. As the Apple Turns (2)
  3. MacCentral (3)
  4. MacFixIt (3)
  5. MacOS Rumors (1)
  6. MacAddict (4)
  7. MacNN (7)
  8. MacInTouch (8)
  9. Macworld (new)
  10. Accelerate Your Mac (9)
  11. Low End Mac (10)
  12. TidBITS (13)
  13. Think Secret (11)
  14. DealMac (15)
  15. Mac OS X Hints (new)
  16. Mac Minute (19)
  17. Mac Rumors (22)
  18. MacSlash (14)
  19. Mac Observer (16)
  20. ResExcellence (17)
  21. MacSurfer (18)
  22. Applelinks (20)
  23. Mac Desktops (new)
  24. Inside Mac Games (21)
  25. O'Grady's PowerPage (12)
  1. (new)
  2. MacUser UK (29)
  3. Bare Feats (23)
  4. Insanely Great Mac (30)
  5. osOpinion (25)
  6. ATPM (32)
  7. Macworld UK (35)
    MacGamer (26)
  1. Mac Night Owl (41)
  2. Mac Evangelist (24)
  3. Railhead Design (new)
  4. Mac Resource Page (33)
  5. PowerBook Central (new)
  6. MacEdition (29)
  7. MacSpeedZone (37)
  8. MacWindows (38)
  9. MacOpinion (40)
  10. PowerBook Zone (42)
  11. The Mac Show (31)
  12. Your Mac Life (new)
  13. MacUpdate (new)
  14. PowerBook Source (43)
  15. Macs Only! (47)
  16. Pure Mac (48)
  17. Right On Mac (46)

For the most part, the better known sites have been on the Web longer than the lesser known sites.

Best of the Mac Web

This is the meat of the survey. In this section sites are ranked by the overall opinion of those who rated them. We counted 1 point for each unacceptable vote, 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 2.987 to 4.677 (if these were letter grades, that would be from C to A-). Scores are reported to three decimal places.

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 and are entitled to post our "Best of the Mac Web, March 2002" badge.

Last time we had a tie at first place: both AtAT and VersionTracker had a score of 4.661. This time VersionTracker beat out AtAT to take first place.

1. VersionTracker (4.677/1)

The winner in both categories, VersionTracker has an average score of 4.68, up just a little from 4.66 in the last survey. With a history going back to 1996, it was the 5th best known site on the last survey and is the best known on this one with 2,963 votes.

2. As the Apple Turns (4.590/2)

AtAT was the 2nd best known site and the best rated site in the second Best of the Mac Web Survey. As last time, AtAT fans came in droves. The site, launched in 1997, is the #2 rated site and the 4th best known site in the survey.

3. TidBITS (4.470/12)

Adam Engst emailed the first TidBITS newsletter on April 16, 1990, making it the granddaddy of Mac Web sites. The 4.47 score is a significant improvement over 4.39 in the last survey. Highly respected, TidBITS has moved up from 13th best known site in our November survey to #12 this time.

4. MacSurfer's Headline News (4.422/21)

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 4.42 score is down slightly from 4.48 in our last survey, maybe because we have to scroll down so far to get past the ads and the subscription offer to reach the links, or maybe because the first update seems to be slipping later and later in the day.

5. MacInTouch (4.251/8)

Billed as "The original Mac news and information site since 1994," MacInTouch is a daily visit for a lot of Mac users. The site is up three spots from a #8 ranking last time and remains #8 in popularity, the same place it held in our first Best of the Mac Web survey, and it's score rose from 4.17 to 4.25.

6. Mac Minute (4.241/16)

Up five spots from #11 last time around, Mac Minute isn't quite a year old and has joined the Top 10 by improving its score from 4.07 to 4.24. Mac Minute is known for a fast-loading page offering more than just headline links, and it is updated several times per day. According to Ian Betteridge of MacUser, it's "a perfect example of how to get news on the Web just right." It also moved up from 19th best known in our 2nd BotMW survey to 16th in this one.

7. ResExcellence (4.222/20)

Down a spot from our last survey, that's only because Mac Minute jumped up so far. ResExcellence, a system hacker's delight since 1997, continues to draw a strong and loyal following.

8. Mac OS X Hints (4.220/15)

Number 2 in our first Rest of the Mac Web survey, Mac OS X Hints rockets near the top of this survey. The site was just launched last year, making it the newest site among the Top 10.

9. Accelerate Your Mac (4.188/10)

Holding a slightly higher score than in our previous survey, Accelerate Your Mac drops to #9 because two newer sites have passed it. This is an essential visit before investing in a new drive or a CPU upgrade.

10. MacFixIt (4.167/4)

Down from #3 in our second BotMW survey, MacFixIt remains a Top 10 site. It has also moved up from 6th best known in our November survey to 4th best known this time. MacFixIt started in March 1996 as an online appendix to Sad Mac, Bombs & Other Disasters. Whether due to emphasizing OS X over 9 or their new subscription system, MacFixIt's rating dropped considerably from 4.53 in the last survey to 4.17 this time out.

11. Low End Mac (4.096/11)

We're sometimes questioned about spiking the results, but Low End Mac (LEM) dropped two slots from the last survey. Looking at the two newcomers in the Top 10, we can't complain. LEM has been providing valuable resources for Mac users since April 1997. LEM is the 11th best known site among those polled, a drop from #10 last time around.

12. DealMac (4.086/14)

Down two steps from BotMW#2, DealMac does one thing and does it well. Launched in 1997, DealMac helps Mac users find impressive deals on a broad range of items. DealMac's score is almost identical to last time around, and it moved up one step in popularity.

Rest of the Best

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

13. MacNN (3.973/7)

The #12 site in our last survey and #4 in the first, MacNN is down one more spot this time. The 3.97 score is essentially the same as last time around. The site that was the 7th best known in the November poll is #7 this time around.

14. Railhead Design (3.968/36)

The top site in our initial Rest of the Mac Web survey, Railhead Design has an attractive design that makes good use of frames. Then again, the site's focus is the interface, so it stands to reason they'd have a nice design. It debuts on the Best of the Mac Web survey with a respectable 14th place.

15. Inside Mac Games (3.922/24)

Holding the same spot as in the November survey, Inside Mac Games has seen a slight score improvement (3.92 vs. 3.88) while remaining at about the same level of popularity (24 this time, 21 last time).

16. (3.883/26)

New to the Best of the Mac Web survey, was #4 in the first Rest of the Mac Web survey.

17. MacCentral (3.844/3)

MacCentral, a major Mac news site, has pretty much held steady against the influx of new sites, moving from #16 in our last survey to #17 this time and scoring 3.84. It remains the 3rd best known site on our survey.

18. Your Mac Life (3.827/45)

New to the Mac Web, we figured adding Shawn King's new site to the Best of the Mac Web survey was a no brainer. The former host of The Mac Show is off to a running start with his new site.

19. MacUser UK (3.816/27)

One of the few older sites to move up in this survey, the UK edition of MacUser moved up nine spots from #28. MacUser UK has improved its score, rank, and popularity compared with last time out.

20. MacSlash (3.765/18)

MacSlash provides news links and a place to discuss the topics of the day for Mac users. MacSlash dropped several spots from 13th in the previous survey and has a noticeably lower score (3.765 vs. 3.99) this time around.

21. MacDesktops (3.748/23)

Another site that moved to the BotMW survey from the RotMW survey, MacDesktops is where I go when I want to change my desktop picture. If you're tired of your desktop art, it's got an incredible selection of images.

22. MacWindows (3.744/42)

MacWindows bills itself as "the Web site for Macintosh-Windows integration solutions." Although there are several "new to this survey" sites ahead of it, MacWindows moved down just one spot from #21 in our last survey, improving its score from 3.66 to 3.74. If you're using both operating systems, whether on a network or on a single computer, MacWindows is an invaluable resource.

23. The Mac Observer (3.724/19)

Down six spots from our last survey, the decline is mostly due to sites new to this survey slipping in ahead of it. 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. As in the last survey, TMO has a slightly lower score than last time (3.72 vs. 3.81), and has dropped from the 16th best known site to #19 this time around.

24. Bare Feats (3.718/28)

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 down six spots in this survey and seen a slight decrease in its score (from 3.77 to 3.72).

25. MacGamer (3.692/32)

Retaining essentially the same score as in our last survey, MacGamer moved down six spots.

26. MacUpdate (3.660/46)

Another site that graduated from the Rest of the Mac Web survey, MacUpdate has a good showing.

27. osOpinion (3.629/30)

Down five spots from our November survey (blame it on the sites added to this survey) osOpinion is part of the NewsFactor Network. The sites score has held steady and ties it with the Mac Resource Page. 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.

27. Mac Resource Page (3.629/37)

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. MRP declined three spots from 24th place in our November 2001 survey - a very impressive achievement considering all the new sites in the Top 25. its score has improved a bit from 3.58 to 3.63, and popularity has decreased from 33rd place to 37th.

29. Macworld UK (3.624/34)

Like MacUser UK, Macworld UK has managed to improve it's score a bit, from 3.51 to 3.56 while slipping just a bit from 29th to 32nd place in the rankings - not bad at all considering all the new sites in the Top 25.

30. Applelinks (3.594/22)

Started as a page with Apple links in 1997, Applelinks features daily content from John H. Farr and Charles Moore, and articles by several other regular contributors. The site has slipped slightly from 25th place to 30th - due primarily to sites added to this survey. The site's score has improved a tiny bit from 3.55 to 3.59.

31. MacSpeedZone (3.543/40)

Down four spots, MacSpeedZone is holding its score and popularity.

32. Think Secret (3.526/13)

Moving up two spots from 34th place, Think Secret is the highest rated rumor site on this survey and improved its score from 3.41 to 3.53. It declined from 11th best known to 13th best known between the last survey and this one.

33. PowerBook Central (3.525/38)

Laptops are expected to account for 25% of all personal computer sales this year, and there aren't enough good PowerBook sites out there. PowerBook Central was #10 in our Rest of the Mac Web survey. It's also one of the better 'Book sites and the highest rated one in this poll.

34. Mac EvangeList (3.517/35)

Down four spots from #30 last time, the Mac EvangeList edges its score up from 3.49 to 3.52.

35. O'Grady's PowerPage (3.479/25)

Once the premier PowerBook site, O'Grady's PowerPage (formerly covers 'Books, Palms, and iPods. ranked 31st in our last survey, but O'Grady's PowerPage has slipped to 35th place (again due to new sites) in this one. Some of this may be due to the recent rebranding of the site. It has also declined from the 12th best known site in November 2001 to 25th in March 2002.

36. Macworld (3.492/9)

This is Macworld's debut on the Best of the Mac Web survey. It came in at #17 on our Rest of the Mac Web survey in November.

37. PowerBook Zone (3.488/43)

Started on July 4, 1998, The PowerBook Zone dropped 17 spots from #20 in our last survey while its score declined significantly from 3.70 to 3.49. It was the 27th best known site in our 2nd BotMW survey but dropped to 43rd this time.

38. MacAddict (3.485/6)

The best rated American magazine site, MacAddict plummets from 23rd place to 38th - the second biggest drop until we hit #50. MacAddict's score has dropped significantly from 3.63 to 3.485. The 4th best known site in our November survey, MacAddict is 6th on this outing.

39. About This Particular Macintosh (3.481/31)

ATPM is the top rated Mac ezine in our survey, down seven slots from our last survey.

40. MacEdition (3.469/39)

MacEdition took it on the chin in this survey - down 15 spots from #25 last time out. I'm especially partial to CodeBitch's rantings against nonstandard, noncompliant HTML. The sites score has declined from 3.55 to 3.47, and popularity decreased from 28th place to 39th.

The above sites will be included in the next Best of the Mac Web survey. The ones below #40 may be moved to the Fall 2002 Rest of the Mac Web survey.

41. Pure Mac (3.437/49)

The third software update site on the survey, Pure Mac is down eight spots in the ratings and has improved their score slightly from 3.42 to 3.44. It is the second least known site on the survey.

42. Insanely Great Mac (3.415/29)

Down seven slots, the roots of Insanely Great Mac go back to 1995, although it didn't take its current name until 1997. The current score is up a bit from 3.38, and it has moved up from 30th best known to 29th.

43. Mac Night Owl (3.392/34)

Holding the same spot as last time, Gene Steinberg's Mac Night Owl 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 3.26 to 3.39, one of the better increases in this survey. It has also increased in popularity, up to 33rd place from 41st in November.

44. Macs Only! (3.372/48)

Macs Only! is down four spots in the current survey. Updated daily since 1995, Bill Fox's Macs Only! site has long been a personal favorite. IMHO, it's not as well known as it deserves to be. The site's score has climbed from 3.29 to 3.37.

45. Mac Rumors (3.362/17)

Up (yes, up) four slots from #49 in our last survey, Mac Rumors is a Slashdot-like Mac rumor site. The site has improved its score from 3.06 to 3.36 and is well known, rating as the 17th best known site in this survey (up from 22nd last time).

46. MacOpinion (3.307/41)

MacOpinion was once the premier commentary-only sites on the Mac Web, but it's 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 42nd in our last survey and has dropped several spots to reach #46 - much of it due to new sites. The site's score has improved from 3.27 to 3.31.


PBS used to be our favorite 'Book resource. Although it's slipping in the ratings (it was #39 in our last poll, but it's #47 this time), its score holds steady.

48. Right On Mac (3.241/50)

Right On Mac is definitely a Mac advocacy site, and it has dropped four slots in the standings. Right On Mac's score of 3.24 is better than its 3.21 last time around.

49. MacOS Rumors (3.240/5)

There's popularity - and then there's notoriety. MacOS Rumors (MOSR) has been dishing up Mac rumors since 1995 and is the best known Mac rumor site. It's also one of the best known sites in our survey (2,680 votes), but it's far from the most respected site on the Web. MOSR has dropped 12 spots from #37 and seen its score decline from 3.36 to 3.24. It also lost out in popularity, dropping from the best known site in our November 2001 poll to 5th place in this survey.

50. The Mac Show (2.987/44)

How the mighty have fallen. The Mac Show was #15 in our November 2001 survey, but after losing Shawn King, the site has dropped to the bottom of this survey. The site's 2.99 rating is a far cry from 3.82 last time around - and the only rating below 3.0 in the poll. It has also dropped from the 32nd best known site in our November survey to 44th in this one. Once a Wednesday night institution, The Mac Show has ceded the night to Your Mac Life (#18 in this survey) and moved to Tuesday.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

For raw scores, weighted scores, and Google links, see Best of the Mac Web Addendum.

The fourth Best of the Mac Web survey

Sometime in the Fall of 2002 (probably October) we'll be doing this again. We'll start with the 40 top rated sites from this survey, then round it off with 10 more sites picked from this survey, next week's Rest of the Mac Web survey, and maybe some sites new to the Mac Web.

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