At OEDb, we understand how important a good reference site is to education. Recently, our interest in the variety of reference sites available on the Web begged the question: which reference sites have the biggest reach? With nowhere to turn to answer this question definitively, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank all of the biggest reference sites.
In ranking the top reference Web sites, our goal was to show — using objective data from reliable sources — which sites are the most popular, according to visitor traffic and site backlinks. To this end, we used data for these four metrics to calculate the rankings:
Top 25 (see complete methodology below)
|7||Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition||7||9||8||8||32|
|10||The Straight Dope||7||7||8||8||30|
|15||How Products Are Made||8||7||1||6||22|
|16||The Probert Encyclopaedia||5||6||5||6||22|
|21||Fixed Reference – Snapshots of Wikipedia||5||4||5||4||18|
|22||Oxford Reference Online||8||4||2||4||18|
To begin, we found a set of Web sites that met a certain criteria. To become a member of the set of Web sites to be ranked, a Web site must, as of August 14, 2007:
- be listed in the Yahoo! Directory page Reference > Encyclopedias; or
- be listed in the Yahoo! Directory page Reference > General ; and
- not be hosted on a subdomain of a domain whose purpose is not primarily reference.
The third criterion ruled out Encarta, which is hosted at msn.com, and Yahoo! Reference, which is hosted at yahoo.com. The reason for not ranking these two reference sites is that neither Alexa nor Compete are able to distinguish subdomains from the main domain at which a site is hosted. Therefore, encarta.msn.com is ranked on each service as msn.com, and reference.yahoo.com is ranked on each service as yahoo.com. This obviously would skew the rankings considerably in favor of Encarta and Yahoo! Reference, were we to rank them using this algorithm.
For each metric, a score was assigned on a 0–10 scale. For Google PageRank, raw PageRank data was scored. For Alexa Rank, Technorati Link Count, and Compete People Count, the Web sites were broken up into deciles. If a Web site was in the 0>10% decile, a 1 was scored; for the 10>20% decile, a 2 was scored; and so on, up to a 10 being scored for the 90–100% decile. If no data was available, a 0 was scored.
The overall score for each Web site is the sum of the scores of the four metrics. In the event of a tie in overall score, the tie is broken according to the Alexa Rank raw data.
Raw Data for Entire Set
|7||Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition||7||8,964||3,089||449,149|
|10||The Straight Dope||7||17,523||8,266||280,365|
|15||How Products Are Made||8||92,859||0||44,259|
|16||The Probert Encyclopaedia||5||176,513||300||23,520|
|21||Fixed Reference – Snapshots of Wikipedia||5||322,876||311||13,210|
|22||Oxford Reference Online||8||336,656||23||8,135|
|26||Project Galactic Guide||5||504,266||145||6,354|
|29||The Rudiments of Wisdom Encyclopedia||6||4,542,421||79||1,916|
|30||All About Stuff||4||2,794,971||12||4,330||3||3,917,660||3||933|