Mac Musings

Best of the Mac Web

Daniel Knight - 2001.04.05 -

Thanks to AOL Instant Messenger, I was chatting with Bryan Chaffin of The Mac Observer on Wednesday. We were discussing the Mac Web and SiteLink, which has links to nearly 200 Mac-related sites. It also rates each site based on visits to them from SiteLink's home page.

We agreed that this is a pretty subjective measure of popularity, since a lot of people have never visited SiteLink or don't use it regularly. Sure, it's nice that Low End Mac is one of their Top 20 sites, but it doesn't mean a lot.

Wouldn't it be nice, I mused, if someone ran a more objective survey of those who use the Mac Web. Instead of just measuring popularity, the survey could ask for their opinion of each site. Bryan agreed; this was a good idea.

But who would do it?

I recalled that, which already powers the LEM search engine and message boards, had a survey option. Time to explore it.

Based on SiteLink's ratings and my daily surfing habits, I came up with an initial list of 25-30 sites. Bryan provided a lot more suggestions, and we ended the day with 41 sites in the survey. (We've added a few since then, particularly after feedback from a lot of Mac Evangelist fans.)

The initial poll asked visitors to rate each site on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst. Bryan noted that most people would automatically work the other way, giving the higher number to the better site, so I went back to to change the survey. Ratings were changed to excellent, good, average, poor, and unacceptable. That also cleared out the first 50-60 responses, but I felt it was a small price to pay for a more accurate survey.

As I write this early Thursday morning, we've had over 500 responses since I modified the poll. I've attempted to contact the publisher or webmaster of each site listed, giving them the opportunity to add a link and have the opinions of their visitors counted.

To some extent, this can't help but be a popularity contest. By asking so many sites to promote the survey, I hope that all balances out. This is an opinion survey, but I believe it will accurately reflect what regular Mac Web surfers think of the listed sites.

Because the survey asks visitors to only rate sites they are familiar with, the Best of the Mac Web survey measures two things: how well known a site is and what those who know the site think of it.

BTW, you can go back and take the survey a second time. This will replace your first ballot.

At this point, we're only collecting data. I'd like to run the poll for about a week, giving lots more people the opportunity to take the survey. Then I'll analyze the results and post them here on Low End Mac.

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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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