Popularity vs. Respectability

Dan Knight - 2001.12.12

We've run three opinion surveys asking your opinion of various Mac-related websites. Looking at the results, I seemed to see a trend - for the most part, sites that received more votes also ended up with higher scores. Time to create some charts.

I first created an X-Y scatter chart of the recent Best of the Mac Web survey results in AppleWorks. The horizontal axis is the number of votes; the vertical access is the site's score on a scale of 1-5 (unacceptable to excellent). Here's what that chart looks like:

I added the gray trend line by eye to show the rough correlation between how well known a site is (number of votes) and how well respected it is (the score on the vertical axis). The better known, less highly rated sites tend to be rumor and magazine-related sites.

This raises the question: Is this a normal pattern or a fluke? So I charted the results for the Rest of the Mac Web survey:

We see a similar pattern here: the less votes a site receives, implying it is less well known, the lower its score. The better known the site, the higher the score tends to be.

Finally, I went back to the original BOTMW survey from April 2001.

This survey didn't include rumor sites, but this chart exhibits the same kind of pattern as the other two charts. In all three cases, the trend line is similar - a steeper line at lower vote counts and a flatter line as the vote count increases. The true shape would be a curve, but if AppleWorks can create one, I haven't figured out how.

Chicken or Egg?

What these results show is a correlation between how many votes a site received and how well viewers rate the site. That raises the question: Does a site receive a higher rating because it's better known, or is a site better known because it's more highly respected?

My guess is that the better a site is, the more likely other sites are to link to it and visitors are to recommend it. Instead of a "chicken or egg" question, maybe it's more like the way cream rises to the top.

Low End Mac Reader Specials

Low End Mac is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. Opinions expressed are those of their authors and may not reflect the opinion of Cobweb Publishing. Advice is presented in good faith, but what works for one may not work for all.
  Entire Low End Mac website copyright ©1997-2016 by Cobweb Publishing, Inc. unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Low End Mac, LowEndMac, and lowendmac.com are trademarks of Cobweb Publishing Inc. Apple, the Apple logo, Macintosh, iPad, iPhone, iMac, iPod, MacBook, Mac Pro, and AirPort are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. Additional company and product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks and are hereby acknowledged.
  Please report errors to .
  LINKS: We allow and encourage links to any public page as long as the linked page does not appear within a frame that prevents bookmarking it.
  Email may be published at our discretion unless marked "not for publication"; email addresses will not be published without permission, and we will encrypt them in hopes of avoiding spammers. Letters may be edited for length, context, and to match house style.
  PRIVACY: We don't collect personal information unless you explicitly provide it, and we don't share the information we have with others. For more details, see our Terms of Use.