Top 25 Reference Sites (By the Numbers)

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)

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Compete Score
1 Wikipedia 9 10 10 10 39
2 Answers.com 7 10 10 10 37
3 HowStuffWorks 8 10 9 10 37
4 Encyclopaedia Britannica 8 10 9 9 36
5 Infoplease 7 9 10 10 36
6 Everything2 7 9 10 9 35
7 Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 7 9 8 8 32
8 Encyclopedia.com 8 8 8 8 32
9 wiseGEEK 6 8 8 9 31
10 The Straight Dope 7 7 8 8 30
11 1911 Encyclopedia 6 7 7 6 26
12 iTools 7 6 6 7 26
13 Citizendium 6 7 7 5 25
14 Knowledge Hound 5 6 6 8 25
15 How Products Are Made 8 7 1 6 22
16 The Probert Encyclopaedia 5 6 5 6 22
17 Shvoong 6 8 7 0 21
18 Wise4Living 5 5 4 7 21
19 Weeno 5 5 4 6 20
20 Article Insider 0 4 9 7 20
21 Fixed Reference – Snapshots of Wikipedia 5 4 5 4 18
22 Oxford Reference Online 8 4 2 4 18
23 WordIQ.com 6 3 6 3 18
24 getCITED 6 5 1 5 17
25 Question.com 5 4 3 5 17

Methodology

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:

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

href=”http://www.helpandinformation.com/”>HelpAndInformation.com

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Compete
1 Wikipedia 9 9 33,827 41,422,790
2 Answers.com 7 309 198,174 10,607,121
3 HowStuffWorks 8 1,416 17,414 3,240,959
4 Encyclopaedia Britannica 8 4,370 23,915 1,329,460
5 Infoplease 7 4,692 40,294 1,463,272
6 Everything2 7 8,868 51,181 788,495
7 Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 7 8,964 3,089 449,149
8 Encyclopedia.com 8 13,645 3,288 464,599
9 wiseGEEK 6 17,174 5,392 689,277
10 The Straight Dope 7 17,523 8,266 280,365
11 1911 Encyclopedia 6 97,636 2,565 42,964
12 iTools 7 179,885 504 82,931
13 Citizendium 6 91,759 634 14,624
14 Knowledge Hound 5 114,930 366 107,250
15 How Products Are Made 8 92,859 0 44,259
16 The Probert Encyclopaedia 5 176,513 300 23,520
17 Shvoong 6 9,125 1,385 0
18 Wise4Living 5 202,301 201 71,392
19 Weeno 5 244,442 121 23,865
20 Article Insider 0 263,356 13,800 53,466
21 Fixed Reference – Snapshots of Wikipedia 5 322,876 311 13,210
22 Oxford Reference Online 8 336,656 23 8,135
23 WordIQ.com 6 634,758 611 3,980
24 getCITED 6 205,611 0 22,423
25 Question.com 5 360,237 33 17,367
26 Project Galactic Guide 5 504,266 145 6,354
27 EncycloZine 7 911,978 45 1,681
28 Radical Reference 5 1,395,922 255 1,612
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
33 Everyrule.com 0 2,386,460 53 1,908
34 1902 Encyclopedia 3 1,224,536 1 0
35 AnestaWeb 3 N/A 1 0