Best of the Mac Web
Survey ResultsDan Knight - 2001.04.12 - Tip Jar
What do you think of the Mac Web? Which sites are you familiar with? Which ones are the best?
Those are the kind of questions the first Best of the Mac Web survey was designed to answer, albeit for only a fraction of Mac-related sites. The survey excluded Apple, rumor sites, commercial sites, and OS X sites.
The survey was first posted on Wednesday, April 4, with a list of 40 sites. Thanks to feedback, we changed the rating scale that day (to eliminate potential confusion) and added one more site. Thursday morning we added four more, and we raised that to 46 sites on Thursday afternoon. Next time I'll try to stick to a total of 40 - and plan things better before launching the survey.
What We Measured
We were looking for two things: how well known sites are (users were asked to skip over sites they weren't familiar with) and what visitors thought of the Mac sites they were familiar with.
We asked most of the sites listed (all those we could find email addresses for) to post a link to the survey so results are far broader than would otherwise be possible. I've tried to make sure the results wouldn't be skewed by the fact that Low End Mac is running the survey; I think we've succeeded.
This is not a scientific or objective survey. We are asking for opinions, so everything is pretty subjective. We just wanted to get a feeling for how the public perceives the Mac Web.
Because we added five sites (MacEdition, Mac Evangelist, Macinstein, Mac Night Owl, and PowerBook Zone) well after polling began and modified the Daily Mac listing, so they are not included in the "best known" section - everyone else had a head start, so the numbers for these six sites are not accurate.
We had a virtual tie for for the best known site between VersionTracker, MacCentral, and MacFixIt, all within a 12 vote range.
For the record, despite a late start, MacEvangelist received 409 votes.
This survey does indicate quite a range of familiarity. By the time we get to #10, sites received only two-thirds as many ratings as the most popular sites. The least known sites received less than 30% as many votes as the best known sites.
For the most part, the better known sites have been on the Web longer than the lesser known sites.
For any site outside the Top Ten, there's definitely an opportunity to grow their market. The overviews below include links to each site, giving you an opportunity to become familiar with them.
The following sites are ranked by the average overall opinion from those who rated them. We scored one point for unacceptable, two for poor, three for average, four for good, and five for excellent. The total was divided by the total votes cast for the site, resulting in scores ranging from 3.01 to 4.69 (if these were letter grades, that would be from a C to an A-). Average scores are reported to two decimal places unless we need another digit to complete the ranking.
Sites with an average score of 4.0 or higher are entitled to post our "Best of the Mac Web, April 2001" badge.
VersionTracker is a software tracking site. If you want to find the latest version or updater for a Mac program, head over to VersionTracker. With 1,210 total votes, VersionTracker was both the most voted for site and the most respected, with an average score of 4.69. VersionTracker also had more "excellent" ratings than any other site.
MacFixIt grew out of Ted Landau's Sad Macs, Bombs, and Other Disasters. into the premier troubleshooting site on the Mac Web. MaxFixIt began in March 1996, making it five years old and one of the oldest Mac sites in existence. With 1,198 votes cast, MacFixIt had an average score of 4.63, making it the second most respected site according to our voters. It was also the only site to receive just one unacceptable vote.
MacSurfer's Headline News
For Mac news junkies, MacSurfer is a regular stop several times a day. MacSurfer is a headline news service and links to dozens of sites each day. Updates begin about 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time and continue until about 10.00 p.m. In our survey, only 681 people rated MacSurfer, but those who did rate it liked it. MacSurfer's average score is 4.42, making it the third-most respected site among those surveyed.
MacNN came in at a virtual tie with MacInTouch. This news site has been around since 1996 and is updated several times during the day - sometimes as early at 06.30 a.m. Eastern Time. In our survey, 1,105 people rated MacNN, giving it an average score of 4.24.
Ric Ford's MacInTouch is "the original Mac news and information site" and has been serving the Mac community since 1994. MacInTouch was rated by 1,067 individuals and had an average score of 4.23, making it the fifth most respected site on the Mac Web.
For those who like to tweak their Macs right down on the system level, ResExcellence is one hot site. A total of 670 people rated the site, giving it an average score of 4.22, making it the 6th most respected site in the survey.
Accelerate Your Mac!
Another "class of '97" site, Accelerate Your Mac! puts the emphasis on speed. In addition to news and reviews, there are huge databases with customer ratings on various hard drives, accelerators, etc. As a hardware geek, it's one of my favorite sites, and I wouldn't dream of buying a drive or CPU upgrade without checking here first. The 967 who rated Accelerate Your Mac! gave it an average score of 4.21.
Low End Mac
Started in April 1997 as a resource for older Macs, Low End Mac has grown to encompass advise columns, commentary, tech articles, mailing lists, and more. The 995 people who rated LEM gave it an average score of 4.20, making it the 8th most respected site in this survey.
Just as I wouldn't pick a drive or upgrade without consulting Accelerate Your Mac!, I wouldn't spend money on anything for my system without checking DealMac first. Sure, you'll sometimes stumble across a better deal, but then you can send it to DealMac and have them share it with others. The 834 who rated DealMac gave it an average score of 4.12, putting it solidly in 9th place.
As the Apple Turns
It's hard to describe As the Apple Turns (AtAT) and do it justice - you just have to experience it. Even then, their brand of humor/commentary may not be your cup of tea. That said, 816 rated AtAT and gave it an average score of 4.05.
Adam Engst started his TidBITS newsletter before the Web; the first TidBITS was emailed to subscribers on April 16, 1990, making it the granddaddy of Mac Web sites. With 694 votes cast, TidBITS had an average score of 4.01, rounding out the Top Ten.
I can't imagine buying memory without checking ramseeker first. Sure, the same two companies almost always have the best prices, but it's nice being able to find memory for your specific Mac and then sort pricing based on the capacity you want to buy. This hot memory pricing site received 551 votes and had an average rating of 3.98.
When you think Mac news, MacCentral is probably one of the first sites that comes to mind. Begun in September 1995, MacCentral was acquired by Mac Publishing LLC, the folks behind MacWeek and Macworld. As of last month, MacCentral swallowed up MacWeek.com. The site was rated by 1,203 visitors, who gave it an average rating of 3.96.
MacSlash is the brash young upstart among the top sites. Where most of these sites have been around for years, MacSlash got its start on June 1, 2000. The site was rated by 818 people, who gave it an average score of 3.92.
The Mac Observer
I thought they were nuts when they retired the Webintosh name, but The Mac Observer (TMO) has carved an identity for itself as one of the leading Mac news and commentary sites. It's less well known than MacNN and MacCentral, but the 776 who rated TMO gave it an average rating of 3.89.
One of the more popular ways to personalize the Mac is with a desktop picture - and that's the domain of MacDesktops. This site has been on the Web since 1998 and has some truly incredible images. If you're tired of the patterns and pictures Apple provides, you're sure to find something you'll like here. The 617 who voted for MacDesktops gave it an average rating of 3.81.
Lots of people chastised me for leaving MacEvangeList off the original survey. My bad. MacEvangeList is primarily a mailing list of Mac advocacy, one founded by Guy Kawasaki in 1995. Even though it was added to the survey a day late, it still received 465 votes and had an average rating of 3.803.
Inside Mac Games
Is the Macintosh a viable gaming platform? Definitely, as visitors to Inside Mac Games (IMG) will quickly learn. IMG began in 1993 as a floppy-disk based magazine and is the top rated gaming site in this survey. The 605 who rated the site gave it an average score of 3.803.
As a hardware geek, I love the benchmarks Bare Feats publishes - often pitting Macs head to head with Pentium III and 4 machines. These are benchmarks with attitude, and the 594 who rated Bare Feats gave it an average score of 3.68.
The Mac Resource Page
With a history going back to 1996, The Mac Resource Page (MRP) is a front-page news site. It was ranked by 564 visitors, who gave it an average score of 3.63
It's a magazine. It's a Web site. MacAddict.com is the adjunct site to MacAddict the magazine. MacAddict has been through a lot of changes and has almost dispensed with original content, relying on a few original article and a lot of links to other good material on the Web. The site received 1,126 votes and had an average score of 3.62.
The #2 gaming site on our survey is MacGamer.com. The site was rated by 484 people, who gave it an average score of 3.61.
Applelinks started out with a bunch of Apple-related links in 1997 and has become one of the leading commentary sites on the Mac Web. The 742 who rated Applelinks gave it an average score of 3.59.
The PowerBook Zone
The PowerBook Zone is the top rated PowerBook site in this survey. With 347 votes, PBZone had an average score of 3.58.
The Web version of MacUser (the UK version - the US version was folded into Macworld in 1997) received 516 votes and an average score of 3.562.
MacInstruct is a tutorial site, explaining how to use the Mac OS and some Mac software. The site received 443 votes and had an average score of 3.558
The Web version of the UK edition of Macworld, 516 people rated the site, giving it an average score of 3.50.
MacReviewZone and MacSpeedZone
Formerly NoBeige.com, O'Grady's PowerPage, and a Palm site, the three separate sites were consolidated into Go2Mac.com in xxxxx. Go2Mac.com received 759 votes and had an average rating of 3.461.
The second software update tracker on our list, Pure Mac is less widely known, receiving only 373 votes compared with 1,210 for VersionTracker. Voters gave Pure Mac an overall average score of 3.461.
The PowerBook Source
The second PowerBook site on the list, the PowerBook Source has been on the Web since 1987. PBSource received 482 votes and had an average score of 3.461.
One of my favorite sites on the Mac Web, Macs Only! received just 437 votes. The average score is 3.442.
The Mac Show
Internet radio meet the Mac on The Mac Show, which broadcasts live each Wednesday at 09.00 p.m. Eastern Time. The site had 415 votes in our survey and an average score of 3.439.
MacOpinion may have been the first commentary-only site on the Mac Web, although it is a shadow of its former self. Regular contributors are Charles W. Moore (Road Warrior) and Marc Zeedar (Less Tangible). The site had 481 votes and an average rating of 3.42.
Although it doesn't bill itself as a Mac site, content on osOpinion is about evenly divided between pro-Mac, pro-Linux, and anti-Windows content. The site had 481 votes in our survey and an overall score of 3.41.
A late addition to our survey, MacEdition exists to analyze and discuss the Mac market. The site received 280 votes and rated 3.39 on average.
Insanely Great Mac
Insanely Great Mac (IGM) is a bit older than most of the sites in this survey. Although it began in 1995, it didn't take its current name until 1997 - the year Apple was "beleaguered" according to everyone who didn't use a Mac. IGM received 533 votes and had an average score of 3.38.
Right On Mac
Right On Mac is definitely a Mac advocacy site and yet another "class of 1997" site. The site received 346 votes and had an average score of 3.223.
A Top Ten site according to SiteLink, Chez Mark! is a software update site. It received 371 votes, compared with 1,210 for VersionTracker, the leading Mac software site. Chez Mark! had an average rating of 3.216.
The Daily Mac
Begun as the Daily iMac in 1998, the site switched to a broader Mac focus as the Daily Mac within the past month. We added a note to the survey that the site was formerly Daily iMac, which unfortunately wiped out all votes the site had already received. Despite that, Daily Mac still received 247 and had an average rating of 3.18.
I've never known quite what to make of Macinstein. It's a Mac-only search engine. It's a banner exchange. It's an editorial site. Maybe that explains the name. :-) Macinstein was rated by 326 people, who gave it an average score of 3.16.
The Mac Junkie
The Mac Junkie is primarily a commentary site that was launched in January 1998. In our survey, 386 people rated Mac Junkie and gave it an average rating of 3.15.
Mac Night Owl
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. A late addition to our survey, the site received 166 votes and had an average score of 3.13.
The MacMind mixes links to original material with links to Mac sites around the Web in an effort to be a portal the the broader Mac Web. The MacMind was rated by 347 visitors and had an average score of 3.05.
The premier Mac and philosophy site on the Web, Applelust is known for thoughtful, albeit often long, commentary, much of it very good. The site was rated by 475 people, who gave it an average rating of 3.04.
Applesurf is a headline news service. My favorite page is their Top Links page, which lists articles that three of more Mac sites have currently linked to. Applesurf received 381 votes and had an overall score of 3.01.
Although the list is far from exhaustive, we really appreciate the high level of participation (about 1,400 participants). We ran the survey for a week to give every site an opportunity to promote it - which we hoped would keep any single site from spiking the results in their favor.
We're thrilled to be among the Top Ten sites; I'm sure the other sites rated so highly feel the same way.
That said, I feel a twinge of disappointment when sites I really like don't appear to be as well known or well respected as I think they should. I hope you'll take the time to visit a few new sites and see what they're all about.
Of course, we all have different interests. For instance, I don't frequent gaming sites or track software updates religiously. I'm more interested in hardware, news, and thoughtful commentary - just the kind of thing I publish on my own site.
There's a wealth of good resources out there on the free Mac Web. I'm hoping all of you will become familiar with a few "new to you" sites before we run our next Best of the Mac Web survey (probably in six months). There's some neat content out there - whether the site is hugely popular or not.
Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
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