Like the Neilsen ratings for television or Ebert and Roeper for the movies, determining the best of whats on the Web is a nebulous thing. And, like movies and television, the number of people using different Web sites is important because it helps companies decide where to put their advertising dollars the impetus behind the Internet and, conversely, helps Web sites decide how much to charge advertisers.
Since 1996, a company by the name of Alexa (www.alexa.com) has been tracking Web traffic, listing the top overall sites, both overall and on a daily basis. If you are connected to a Web site and want to see how you are positioned compared to other similar sites, this is the place to go.
Alexa also tracks sites in specific categories, such as news, business, sports, entertainment, etc., for easier comparison.
The site uses several criteria to rank sites, and also offers its own toolbar service, allied with Google, which allows you to browse the most popular Web sites, as well as check out what sites are on their way up and what sites are on their way out. This is a great way to follow trends, and learn about new sites.
To use Alexa to find out where a site ranks assuming its not on the daily top 500 list type the name of a site in the toolbar titled Search the Web and hit "Go". Alexa will bring you to an overview of the site.
The information available includes an overview of traffic on a daily basis; visitor numbers averaged over three months; a look at other sites visited by people who visited the site in question; a list of links to and from the site in question; and contact/publisher information for that site.
Having a quick look at various Whistler sites, Whistler-Blackcomb (www.whistler-blackcomb.com) led the way, and ranked 45,125 th over the past three months. During the winter months, the site ranks in the top 10,000.
MyWhistler.com, Tourism Whistlers portal, is currently ranked 72,553 rd , although it is also ranked as high as the low 40,000s in the last three months. It should also rank higher in the winter months, although there isnt much data from the past year because its a new site, replacing www.tourismwhistler.com.
Whistler.com, a privately-owned portal for Whistler visitors, is currently ranked 54,658 th , although it has been ranked considerably higher under 20,000 at different times of the year, with more than 40 per cent growth in the last three months.
Of all the Whistler sites I looked up, the highest rated was Snowboard.com at www.snowboard.com. While this isnt a Whistler site per se more of an international snowboard community site I thought Id give props to site creator Rick Godwin.
Godwin created an interactive site where snowboarders can chat, access e-mail, post photos, stories and poems, link up with other riders, check snow reports, visit resort and manufacturer Web sites. Its free, although a premium membership is available that allows you more e-mail space and to avoid pop-up ads something Godwin needs to finance the site until more members pay up and big name advertisers get on board no pun intended.
Snowboard.com is currently ranked 6,296 th . Only four per cent of that traffic is people checking their Snowboard.com e-mail addresses at mail.snowboard.com.
Although its summer, traffic to the site has actually increased in the last three months. Last week, the site ranked at 5,404 th , up from 12,726 th three months ago.
Currently Snowboard.com is the top-ranked snowboard site.
Transworld Snowboarding, the official site of Transworld Snowboarding Magazine, is ranked 54,731 st . Burton.com, the site of snowboardings number one manufacturer, is ranked 23,404 th .
Give Alexa.com a visit, and dont forget to bookmark it. Its a great way to find out about new sites in your areas of interest, and to find out more about your favourite sites.
Big games for shoulder season
Every year Whistler slips into a doldrums as summer ends, cold rains move in, and finances get strapped. All that will change when the snow flies, but until then, theres nothing to do but wait. Read books. Fiddle with your guitar. Play cards and board games. Have pot luck dinner parties and watch football and hockey on television. The Rugby World Cup takes place in October and November, which will be televised on SportsNet (www.sportsnet.ca).
Still, there are a lot of hours in the day when youre not working much, and its a good bet that a lot of locals will be retreating to their computers and consoles, playing video games until the wee hours.
With Christmas around the corner, game makers are rushing the latest and greatest games to market, so theres going to be a good selection to choose from.
For PC users, the first-person shooter market is looking good with Half-Life 2, Doom 3, and Medal of Honour: Pacific Assault, Max Payne 2, Jedi Academy and more. Star Wars Galaxies is also out and reviews are through the roof. Visit www.pcgamer.com for more information and reviews.
Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 users should visit www.gamers.com, the home of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine.
Some titles to watch for include Gran Turismo 4, Final Fantasy X-2, Star Wars Jedi Academy, Splinter Cell: Pandora, NHL 2004 and more.
The best part about all new games coming out is the fact that the older games, last years hit titles, are selling for a lot less. Visit www.futureshop.ca, www.bestbuy.ca, www.londondrugs.com and www.radioshack.ca for the lowest prices.