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Judging candidates by their Web sites

If the presidential election were based on Web sites alone, you could kiss Bill Clinton and Bob Dole goodbye and put in their places Harry Browne and Ralph Nader.

If the presidential election were based on Web sites alone, you could kiss Bill Clinton and Bob Dole goodbye and put Harry Browne and Ralph Nader in their places.

That's how Site/technologies sees it. Site/technologies used its new software, SiteSweeper, to scan the candidate Web sites and rate them accordingly.

The sweeper broke down the sites for information such as the total number of files, the size of the files, and the number of HTML files versus the number of images.

Nader, the Green Party candidate and Browne, the Libertarian candidate, came in neck and neck.

Browne's site was praised for being small, yet effective.

The Libertarian Party has always stood for a smaller, less intrusive government," Site/technologies writes. "This is reflected in the Web site," it said. The site has "only 237 files at only 1.7MB and the second smallest average page size. The site also has very high content with 70 percent of the total size as HTML files."

Ralph Nader's site was comparable with Browne's.

Packed with information, the Nader site "is the smallest of all with 133 files at 1.2 MB and an average page size of just 22.1K," it states. "An astounding 82 percent of the files on this site are HTML files; only 18 percent of them are graphics. Surely there is more information here than the apathetic U.S. voters can process."

If voters have trouble processing Nader's site, there's no way they'll get all the way through any of the three other rated sites: Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, or Ross Perot.

Perot, in keeping with his third place in the polls, has the third largest Web site, although it's only slightly larger than Browne's.

However, the survey takers are quick to point out, "there are two outstanding features of the Perot site. First, 47 percent of the files on this site are images. Ross: enough with the charts already!" Second, "Perot's site has the largest number of broken links."

Before Dole and Clinton get cocky, they should read their ratings. "The Republican party suggests that they are for a smaller, less intrusive government," begins the review of Dole's site. "This is not at all reflected in Dole's Web site, which has three times as many files (5,609) as Clinton's.

"A shockingly small 3 percent of the files are images, while 30 percent are HTML files. This might indicate that Dole provides more substance on his site than Clinton and relies less on image. But wait! Nearly 80 percent of the files on this site are dedicated to a trivia quiz ('Test your knowledge of Bob Dole's life!'). With questions like, 'What is the name of Bob and Elizabeth Dole's dog?' one is only left to wonder, where is the beef?"

Clinton, who is running ahead in all the polls, should also feel lucky that most voters are not online, if the "study" is to be trusted.

"The Clinton Web site weighs in with 1,345 files at 25MB," the authors write. "But only 15 percent of this total is HTML files. Is this why Dole claims that the Democrats have no ideas? Clinton has three times as many image files as Dole (33 percent of the entire Web site), demonstrating a preference for image above substance."