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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

LOL @ AOL

Too many people are putting stock in the traffic rankings and user reviews at Alexa these days, it seems. The reality is, Alexa's traffic rankings are wildly inaccurate, and they tend to favor busy message boards with no business model. If you see a site out there with tons of posts and a pleading "DONATE!" logo at the top, chances are, Alexa thinks it's great.

The user reviews are unreliable, too. Because there are so few of them (many sites in the top 5,000 have no review at all), they can be manipulated by people working for the sites in question (if you really wanted to waste your time doing that). By any objective measure, sites like Slashdot are "must reads" for their loyalists, and companies like Yahoo are wildly popular with real users. But Alexa's random reviewers typically give big sites like these an average of say three out of five stars, while crummy sites you've never heard of get five. (One of the common complaints about Slashdot is that it's "biased." Actually, many of the user criticisms revolve around bias. The site you're on now, Traffick.com, was accused of being "overbiased" [sic] and having a "vendetta against certain companies." No, I'm not on any kind of vendetta, I do this because it's fun and informative, and I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Problem?)

All that being said, you have to laugh at the treatment AOL gets by the random Alexa reviewers. Of the 90+ available reviews, the first thirty are almost all negative, with nearly all assigning AOL.com one star out of five. One poster asked, "can I submit negative five stars?" After reading the first 20 of these (no doubt underbiased) comments, I burst out laughing, thankful that most of the planet agrees with my vendetta-driven overbiased opinion that AOL sucks.

See for yourself: The Alexa people have spoken: AOL, you are the weakest link. Goodbye!

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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