The fourth 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 nine day period, and 2,500 Mac fans shared
their opinion of 100 of the best known Mac-related sites.
We ran the first BotMW survey
in April 2000, starting with 40 sites and adding six more during
the survey period.
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 additional sites.
The third BotMW survey covered 50
sites in March 2002, and it was followed by our second RotMW survey, which also included 50
We began the current list 89 sites from the Spring 2002 BotMW
and RotMW surveys, added 11 more sites to bring the number up to
We attempted to contact the publishers of listed sites before
going public, giving them the opportunity to add a link to the
survey and have the opinions of their visitors counted. 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
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. The third time, which was a two-week survey, the
best known site received 2,963 votes, the average was 1,197, and
the least known site received 373 votes.
In the current survey, the best known site received 2,490 votes,
the least known just 47, and the average was 571 votes.
The following list simply ranks sites by the number of votes
- As the Apple Turns
- MacOS Rumors
- Think Secret
- Accelerate Your Mac
- OS X FAQ
- Low End Mac
- O'Grady's PowerPage
- Crazy Apple Rumors
- Joy of Tech
- Mac OS X Hints
- Mac Minute
- Mac Rumors
- Mac Observer
- Macworld UK
- Inside Mac Games
- Bare Feats
- Railhead Design
- Insanely Great Mac
- Apple History
- Your Mac Life
- PowerBook Central
- Mac Night Owl
- Mac Desktops
- PowerBook Zone
- Mac Update
- Deals on the Web
- MacUser UK
- Mac Resource Page
- PowerBook Source
- 3 Macs and a Printer
- Mac Evangelist
- Working Mac
- Apple Museum
- Should our schools have Macs?
- Creative Mac
- Chez Mark
- Mac Orchard
- Macs Only!
- pickle's Low-end Mac FAQ
- Mac Monkies
- System 6 Heaven
- MacNet v2
- Why the Mac is so great.com
- Mac OS Zone
- Mac OS Planet
- Jag's House
- Cool Mac
- Apple Quicklinks
- The Mac Mind
- The Mac 512k
- iMac NewsPage
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 heart 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
2.722 to 4.618 (if these were letter grades, that would be from C-
to A-). Scores are reported to three decimal places.
In cases where there is a tie, and there were several this time,
the site with the greater number of votes is listed first.
Because twice as many sites were covered in this survey, it's
not particularly helpful to compare rankings between this survey
and the last one, although it does shed some light on things.
What's more significant is whether a site held its position
relative to other sites near it in the previous survey - or moved
up or down - and how the overall site score has changed.
Overall, scores averaged higher than on the previous survey.
Best of the Mac Web Award
These are what Agent J of MIB
would call "the best of the best of the best, sir."
The numbers in parentheses represent the score followed by the
popularity ranking of the site. The first group of sites are the 20
highest rated and are entitled to post our "Best of the Mac Web,
October 2002" badge.
- Up from third place in our previous survey, TidBITS is an
institution. Adam Engst emailed the first newsletter on April 16,
1990, making it the granddaddy of Mac Web sites. The 4.59 score is
a significant improvement over 4.47 in the last survey. Highly
respected, TidBITS has moved up from 6th best known site in our
Spring 2002 survey.
- 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 site has jumped
from 4th place in our Spring survey to second place in this one.
The 4.58 score is a nice increase from 4.42 in our last
- The winner in both categories last time, VersionTracker has an
average score of 4.51, down from 4.68 in the last survey, and
remains the best known site in our survey.
- Number 8 in our previous Best of the Mac Web survey, Mac
OS X Hints zooms ever nearer the top of our surveys. The site
was launched last year, making it the newest site among the Top
- AtAT was the 2nd best known site and second best rated site in
the third Best of the Mac Web Survey. As always, AtAT fans came in
droves. The site, launched in 1997, is the #5 rated site and the
3rd best known site in our survey.
- After coming it as #2 on the last Rest of the Mac Web survey,
OS X FAQ takes a very impressive 7th place this time out. The
site's average score also improves a bit, going from 4.33 to
- Brand new to the Best of the Mac Web survey, Joy of Tech offers
three new cartoons a week and debuts in the Top 10.
- Down a couple spots from last time, Mac Minute is a bit over a
year old. The site improves its average score from 4.24 to 4.39.
Mac Minute is known for a fast-loading page offering more than just
headline links, and it is updated several times per day. As
Ian Betteridge of MacUser (UK)
said, it's "a perfect example of how to get news on the Web just
- Number 4 on the previous RotMW survey, Crazy Apple Rumors is
dedicated to the fabrication of rumors that "defy verifiability,
grammatical convention, or any basis in reality." The site's
average score rose from 4.15 to 4.35. John T. Moltz has built quite
a following since he launched the site in December 2001.
- Rounding out the Top 10, MacInTouch is "The original Mac news
and information site since 1994" and remains a daily visit for a
lot of Mac users. The site is down from a #5 ranking last time even
though it improved its overall rating from 4.25 to 4.33.
11. DealMac (4.290/23)
- Up one steps from BotMW#3, DealMac does one thing and does it
well. Launched in 1997, DealMac helps Mac users find the best deals
on a broad range of items. DealMac's score or 4.29 is a significant
improvement over 4.09 last time around.
- The top of the last RotMW survey in both score and popularity,
The IconFactory is all about icons for the Mac - and has been since
it started in April 1996.
- Down from #9 in our previous survey, Accelerate Your Mac raises
its average score from 4.19 to 4.28. Many Mac users consider the
site an essential visit before investing in a new drive or a CPU
- Down from 7th place in our last survey, that's mostly because
of sites new to this survey. ResExcellence, a system hacker's
delight since 1997, continues to draw a strong and loyal following.
Its score improved slightly from 4.22 to 4.26.
- Low End Mac dropped four slots from the last survey. Looking at
the newcomers, we can't complain. LEM has been providing valuable
resources for Mac users since April 1997 and has developed into one
of the leading editorial sites on the Mac Web. Our average score
improves form 4.10 to 4.19. LEM is the 17th best known site among
those polled, a drop from #11 last time around.
- Jumping an impressive 10 spots from the Spring 2002 survey,
MacUpdate has become the leading alternative to VersionTracker. The
site's score has jumped from 3.66 to 4.19, one of the biggest
improvements in the survey.
- Up four spots from the Spring 2002 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. The
site's overall score has jumped from 3.75 to 4.11.
- Down three spots from last time (blame all the new sites),
Inside Mac Games has seen a score improvement (4.11 vs. 3.92) while
remaining at about the same level of popularity (31 this time among
a much larger group of sites, 24 last time).
- I never buy memory without checking ramSeeker first, and I'm
obviously not alone. An invaluable resource, ramSeeker was #5 in
the last RotMW survey. The site's rating improves from 3.97 to
- If I'd known about EveryMac, I might never have created
Low End Mac. EveryMac has more
information than we do about several brands of Mac clones and
upgrade cards. It was #7 on the RotMW survey and zooms comfortably
into the Top 20 here.
Rest of the Best
These sites didn't make the Top 20 to earn the "Best of the Mac
Web" badge. Some came very close; others fell much lower on the
- 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 debuted on the third Best
of the Mac Web survey with a respectable 14th place and slips to
21st this time around. It also moves up from 36th best known to
- The newest Mac deals site on the Web, Deals on the Web was #10
in the Spring RotMW survey.
- Third place in the previous Rest of the Mac Web survey, Apple
History is an excellent resource that's been around since May
24. MacNN (4.033/7)
- The #13 site in our last survey, MacNN is down 11 spots this
time. The 4.03 score is slightly better than last time around. The
site that was the 7th best known in the last two polls remains
- The focus is on emulating other hardware on the Mac -
especially game systems such as Atari 2600, Nintendo, Gameboy, and
- Down just three spots from our last survey, the slightly lower
rank is due to sites new to this survey slipping in ahead of it. A
combination of news, analysis, commentary, and press releases, TMO
provides a good mix of content and is updated several times each
day. TMO sees a very nice improvement in their score compared with
last time (4.00 vs. 3.72).
- Stepwise was #9 in RotMW last time and makes a nice debut on
the BotMW. Although not as widely known as many sites, those who
know it rate it highly.
- 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 six spots from #22
in our last survey, improving its score from 3.74 to 3.97. If
you're using both operating systems, whether on a network or on a
single computer, MacWindows is an invaluable resource.
- MacCentral, a major Mac news site, has dropped significantly
after steadily holding a Top 20 position in our first three
surveys. This time the site moves from #17 down to #29. The sites
score of 3.94 is an improvement compared to 3.84 last time. It also
drops from being the 3rd best known site on our last survey to 4th
- Rob-Art Morgan has been posting benchmarks for years. Always an
interesting mix of test results and interesting commentary, his
reports are educational and fun to read. Bare Feats has moved down
six spots in this survey and seen a nice increase in its score
(from 3.72 to 3.93).
- New in our Spring survey, Your Mac Life held the 18th spot.
With all the additional sites this time, YML has dropped to 29th
place while improving their score from 3.83 to 3.91.
- Maybe Slashdot decided to launch apple.slashdot.org when they
discovered the Mac - and especially OS X - was a leading topic
on their site. "News for nerds" with a Mac twist, the site is
improves its score from 3.58 on the last RotMW survey to 3.91 this
33 - tie. MacFixIt
- Down from #10 in our third BotMW survey and #3 in our second,
MacFixIt has dropped significantly in the rankings. It has also
moved up from 6th best known in our November survey to 8th best
known this time. MacFixIt started in March 1996 as an online
appendix to Sad
Mac, Bombs & Other Disasters. Since moving to a
subscription model for their valuable archives, MacFixIt's rating
has dropped considerably from 4.53 in the second BotMW survey to
3.90 this time out.
33 - tie. MacSlash
- MacSlash provides news links and a place to discuss the topics
of the day for Mac users. MacSlash was 20th in the previous survey
and has a noticeably higher score (3.90 vs. 3.76) this time
- Down just three spots from BotMW #3, Think Secret is the
highest rated rumor site on this survey and improved its score from
3.53 to 3.89, one of the biggest improvements on the survey.
- MacGamer moved down several spots while improving its score
from 3.69 to 3.89.
- The Apple Museum has been covering the whole of Apple history
(not just Macs) since 1998. New to BotMW, their score is up from
3.64 in the second Rest of the Mac Web survey.
- We first learned of Chez Mark because it's a top rated site on
SiteLink, where it
consistently holds a Top 20 rank. The focus of this software site
is shareware, and it covers both OS X and the classic Mac OS.
Chez Mark's score drops slightly from 3.87 in the RotMW survey to
3.84 this time.
- Got questions about networking Macs? 3 Macs and a Printer is an
invaluable resource. A big thanks to ATPM for hosting 3 Macs. The
site has increased its score from 3.67 last spring to 3.82
- Up (yes, up, which is uncommon in this survey) five
slots from #45 in our last survey, Mac Rumors is a Slashdot-like
rumor site. The site has improved its score from 3.36 to 3.805 and
is fairly well known, rating as the 24th best known site in this
- John Droz created "Should Our Schools" in response to mid-2000
attempts to have a 90% Mac school district standardize on Windows
PCs. An excellent resource for others engaged in that conflict at
home, work, school, or elsewhere, the site improves its score from
3.72 in the last survey.
- Creative Mac has a home page that looks more like printed
content than we're used to seeing on the Web. The site has some
interesting content and makes decent use of frames, but you'll
really want to use a big browser window (800 pixels or wider) to do
the design justice. The score has improved nicely from to 3.42 to
43 - tie. MacOSX.com (3.773/42)
- From the home page, MacOSX.com looks like the focus is on
discussion boards. I haven't signed in or explored the site, but
it's the second highest rated OS X site in this survey.
MacOSX.com saw its score slip slightly from 3.83 to 3.77.
- Like MacUser UK, Macworld UK has managed to improve it's score
a bit, from 3.62 to 3.77 while slipping from 32nd place in the
- The UK edition of MacUser moved down 26 spots from #19. MacUser
UK, but its rating only slipped from 3.82 to 3.72.
46. iGeek (3.703/64)
- When David K. Every decided that MacKiDo had run its course, he
launched iGeek, which makes its debut on the Best of the Mac Web
47 - tie. MacEdition
- MacEdition held on nicely this survey - down 7 spots from #40
last time out, but among a much bigger pool of sites. I'm
especially partial to CodeBitch's rants against nonstandard,
noncompliant HTML. The sites score has improved its rating from
3.47 to 3.69.
- Mac Orchard has a specific focus on Internet-related software
and has been on the Web since 1995. Their score slipped slightly
from 3.73 to 3.69.
- Macworld was #36 in the spring Best of the Mac Web survey and
moves to the middle of the pack in this outing. The site's rating
has improved from 3.49 to 3.69, and it's the second best know site
in the survey.
- Down from #31 (out of 50 sites) in the last BotMW survey,
MacSpeedZone improved its score from 3.54 to 3.67.
- Macs Only! is down seven spots in the current survey, which
translates to a very good showing. Updated daily since 1995, Bill
Fox's Macs Only! site has long been a personal favorite. IMHO, it
deserves to be better known. The site's score has climbed from 3.37
- Once the premier PowerBook site, O'Grady's PowerPage (formerly
Go2Mac.com) covers 'Books, Palms, and iPods. The PowerPage ranked
35th in our last survey, but it has slipped to 52nd place in the
current, larger survey. It has improved from the 25th best known
site in March 2002 to 16th in October.
- Down 11 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 quite a bit from 3.42, and it has moved down just a bit
from 30th best known to 34th.
- The pickle's Low-end Mac FAQ has all sorts of useful (and often
obscure) information about pre-PowerPC Macs, 100% compliant HTML,
and a sparse, content-centric look. There's lots of information
here. Recommended to anyone working with 68000- to 68040-based
Macs. The site's score slipped the tinniest bit from 3.68 to
- MacReviewZone moved from the Rest of the Mac Web survey. The
site's score improved from 3.53 to 3.64.
- ATPM is the top rated Mac ezine in our survey, down 17 slots
from our last survey. The site's overall rating has improved from
3.48 to 3.62.
- The site's score has improved quite a bit from 3.58 in the
RotMW survey to 3.62 in this survey.
- Down 15 spots from last time in a much larger survey, Mac Night
Owl bills itself as "your complete Mac support site." It's a great
place to stop to see what's on Gene Steinberg's mind, especially if
you're interested in Mac OS X. The site's score improved
significantly from 3.39 to 3.62.
- Started as a page with a bunch of Apple links in 1997,
Applelinks features daily content from John H. Farr and Charles W.
Moore, as well as articles by other regular contributors. The site
was 30th among 50 sites in the last BotMW survey. The site's score
has again improved a tiny bit from 3.59 to 3.61.
- Down over 30 spots from our March survey (blame it on the sites
added), osOpinion is part of the NewsFactor Network. The sites
score has declined slightly from 3.63 to 3.60. While not strictly a
Macintosh site, I consider osOpinion something of a "stealth" Mac
site - it provides a lot of content critical of Windows and
favoring the Mac and *nix.
61. MacMerc (3.596/81)
- MacMerc is a Slashdot-like site with a Mac focus. The site's
score improved noticeably from 3.42 to 3.60.
- Jag's House is one of three sites in this survey that
specifically supports older Macs. It has a wealth of information
covering everything from System software to getting a Mac Plus on
the Net to how to create a Mac floppy on a PC. The site doesn't
have a lot of polish, but the content is top notch. Jag's score
edges up from 3.57 to 3.59.
- The only blog in the survey, Rob McNair-Huff updates MNJ
regularly. It's become a daily visit at LEM headquarters. The
site's score jumped from 3.06 in the RotMW survey to 3.59 this
- 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 #33 in our previous Best of
the Mac Web survey. It's one of the better 'Book sites and the
second highest rated one in this poll. The site's score has
improved a bit from 3.53 to 3.59
- Another site modeled after Slashdot, the focus here is Mac
OS X. AllOSX.com was near the middle of the pack in the RotMW
survey and falls at the two-thirds mark this time. The site's 3.51
score has edged up to 3.56.
- 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
held the 27th place in our spring survey. its score has dropped
from 3.63 to 3.55.
- This site doesn't limit itself to the Fat Mac, but it does pretty much
limit itself to supporting the older compact Macs. A very useful
resource for those who love the classics. The site has improved its
score from 3.38 to 3.52.
- A reborn Macteens debuts in the Best of the Mac Web in 68th
- Brand spanking new, MacDailyNews debuts in the Best of the Mac
Web in 69th place.
- Another debut, AppleAudio specializes in news you can listen to
via QuickTime audio.
- 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, although it's not the most respected. It's
one of the better known sites in our survey (1,705 votes), but it's
far from the most respected site on the Web. MOSR has seen its
score increase from 3.24 to 3.47.
- Magazine sites don't tend to translate to the Web and develop a
big following. MacAddict moves from 38th place out of 50 sites to
72nd out of 100. MacAddict's score has dropped slightly from 3.48
to 3.46. The 4th best known site in our November survey, MacAddict
is 9th on this outing.
- Mac OS Zone was one of the earliest Mac sites I visited on a
regular basis when I first got connected to the Internet. The site
has seen a decline in its score from 3.67 to 3.46.
74 - tie. macHome (3.460/59)
- Another magazine-related site, the macHome website has a clean,
- This is definitely a low-end site, and one that members on
Low End Mac's email lists who
use System 6 rave about. System 6 is especially suited for the old
8 MHz compact Macs, since they are limited to 4 MB RAM
and don't really have the horsepower to run System 7 well. That
said, System 6 screams on fast machines like the IIfx. The site's rating dropped from 3.61
- Started on July 4, 1998, The PowerBook Zone's score declined
slightly from 3.49 to 3.44. It was the 43rd best known site in our
3rd BotMW survey and dropped to 47th this time.
- The first independent website dedicated to Apple's .mac
services, dotmac.info is a very new site designed to help .mac
users get the most out of their investment.
- 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. The site's score
has improved from 3.31 to 3.425.
- This one seems to be an up-and-comer. Voters seem to agree -
the site's score jumped from 3.19 to 3.42.
- The site's score improved from 3.12 to 3.40, but it remains
near the bottom of the list.
- An interesting hybrid of news links with commentary, headline
links, and occasional commentary, it's a daily visit at LEM
headquarters. The site's score was 3.15 on the RotMW survey and
improves to 3.37.
- Applelust's specialty is in-depth articles. The site scored
3.35 in our last BotMW survey and matches the score this time
- New to the RotMW survey, MyMac is an ezine. It isn't
particularly well known, but it has improved its score impressively
from 3.14 to 3.34 in this survey.
- Moving up from last place in the RotMW survey, SpyMac is the
lowest rated Mac rumor site in this survey. The site is best known
for its iWalk rumors - a product we still haven't seen. SpyMac
improved its rating from 2.79 to 3.30.
85. PowerBook Source (3.301/58)
- PBS used to be our favorite 'Book resource, but it remains near
the bottom of the polls. Its score holds steady, moving up a tiny
bit from 3.27 to 3.30.
- MacDirectory works from a different paradigm, and the home page
really doesn't give you a clue what the site's all about or invite
exploration. While you may pop over to an article on MacDirectory
through a link on MacSurfer, you'd hardly know the
site had new content from the home page. MacDirectory's score has
dropped noticeably from 3.44 to 3.29.
- A little over a year old, Working Mac is intended for
professional Mac users, especially IS/IT types. The site was
launched in July 2001 and saw its score improve a bit from 3.22 to
3.28 in this poll.
- Whythemacissogreat.com carries the "domain as brand name"
concept a bit too far. The site has a busy design, tends to load
slowly, and sometimes has some interesting new content. Its score
improved slightly from 3.09 to 3.28.
89. CoolMac (3.229/32)
- CoolMac proclaims "a better computer, a better website," but I
just can't get it to look good in IE or iCab - especially that 3D
bar with the date and several links. Interesting content, but I
have to wonder what kind of computer they use to preview their home
page design (the same bar with links is not a problem on
- I've seen and linked to some good content on MacNETv2, but at
this point it seems to be a small fish in a big pond. The site's
score has slipped from 3.21 to 3.18.
- Low End Mac's sister site is a fledgling headline news service
that was launched just before the July Macworld Expo. It hasn't yet
set the world on fire. Unfortunately, the site's been down due to
DNS problems since last weekend.
- MOSP has an interesting design heavily influenced by Aqua - and
it's the first time I've run across a site that looks better in
iCab than IE (at least the classic versions, since I'm still using
OS 9.x almost exclusively).
- A favorite underrated, underknown site, AppleTechs offers
technical help for Mac users, although updates have been infrequent
lately. The sites score slips from 3.34 to 3.13 this time.
- Another relatively new site, MacCritic is set up so registered
users (free membership) can leave comments on their articles. At
this point, not many are taking advantage of that feature.
- Way down from 37 (13 above the bottom) in the RotMW survey,
Macinstein is a commentary site with a Mac-centric search engine.
The site is well known but not well rated. The site's score dropped
slightly from 3.10 to 3.05.
- A relic from the Age of the iMac, The iMac NewsPage seems to be
on its last legs. The 2.82 score is virtually identical to the last
- If there'd been any indication on the site that
MacUnlimited.com had been reinvented as MacMail.com, I wouldn't have included
it here - and might have listed MacMail, which tries to be more
than just a free email service.
- Billed as a portal, MacVillage uses news feeds instead of
discovering its own news links. The site has some original content,
but it seems to lack focus. The score is down slightly from
- Probably on its last legs after the site's owner was arrested,
Mac Evangelist dropped precipitously from a 3.52 score to 2.78,
easily the biggest decline in our poll.
- Family-Mac is not a well known Mac ezine, and the home page
isn't very attractive, but it's published some thought-provoking
content. The site's rating has slipped from 2.83 to 2.71.
Family-Mac usually produces a new issue around the 15th of the
month. Watch for links on MacSurfer.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
- Most "excellent" votes: VersionTracker
- Highest percentage of "excellent" votes: TidBITS
- Most "unacceptable" votes: SpyMac
- Highest percentage of "unacceptable" votes:
For weighted scores and raw numbers, see Best of the Mac Web Addendum.
The fifth Best of the Mac Web survey
Sometime in the Spring of 2003 (March or April) we'll be doing
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