Webware 100 winners announced!

The 90/10 rule and why we didn't rank the winners.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
4 min read

And now the moment you've all been waiting for... The Webware 100 winners. Go to www.webware.com/100 to see the top 100 Web 2.0 products, 10 each in 10 categories, selected by the Web's users.

The project was a big success for Webware, and for Web users overall. Users cast 489,467 votes on our 250 finalists. Here's more data about the winning Web 2.0 services:

The 90/10 rule

Overall, 91 percent of all votes cast were for winning products.

In many categories, there was a very steep drop-off between the top vote-getter and the No. 2 (and lesser) winners. In Browsing, for example, Firefox received 50 percent of all votes in the category, and the second-most-popular product, Opera, got only 13 percent.

The greatest disparity was in the Community category. Gaia Online won a staggering 91,293 votes--60 percent of the votes in its category and 19 percent of all votes cast in the awards.

The categories with the least amount of drop-off--the most even distribution of votes--were Productivity and Publishing. In Productivity, which also included Commerce, there was a block of votes (45 percent of all in the category) fairly evenly distributed among eBay, Amazon, and Paypal. Google Docs and Speadsheets and Google Calendar were in the next positions, and then there was a fairly straight-line drop-off for the remaining five winners in the category.

Publishing had no mass consumer brands in the top 10, as most of the other categories did. WordPress got the most votes. I was interested to see the Drupal CMS platform placing high in this category--above the consumer-oriented publishing products Typepad and Vox. Even combined, these two Six Apart services didn't come close to winning the same number of votes as Drupal.

The top 10 vote winners, which accounted for 45 percent of all votes, were, in alphabetical order:

Everyone's a winner

We made a decision early on that we weren't going to rank the winners. That's why we're not showing the raw results. I didn't think it would reflect fairly on small (but well-loved) products that don't (yet) have the mass appeal of services from larger and older companies. This awards program was, essentially, a popularity contest, but I wanted to give smaller products a chance to dance with the big boys.

Indeed, some products with only a few hundred votes placed in the Webware 100. I'm happy to see them on the list. To my mind they are just as good, and just as loved, as larger products. They're just newer.

There are some large-company products on the under-1,000 list too. They're going to have to do better next year if they want to place. However, we may also modify the voting procedures to account for the fact that in many categories, even very popular products weren't popular enough to win votes from their category's shoe-in. StumbleUpon, for example, only got 784 votes. That's a surprisingly low result, but the service probably lost most of its potential votes to Firefox.

These are the products that received fewer than 1,000 votes:

Blocks of votes

I had no idea how much mass traffic the teen and "tween" demographic could drive. This user base has a tendency to act as a herd--when something is cool for the tastemakers, it becomes cool for everyone, and everyone does the same thing. In this case, that was voting.

Companies that saw the Webware 100 as an opportunity to let their users reward them for a service users liked reaped the benefit. Voting drives from several companies had large effects in the rankings. Communities of fans, likewise, drove votes for several services. However, many user-generated campaigns were short-lived, and while they generated large spikes in votes, did not generate enough to have the desired effect. Fark, for example, took the lead early in the Community category, but did not drive enough sustained votes to place in the top 10. And Digg, despite an enormous spike in voting when the community flagged the awards, did not win as many votes as I had expected, since the item rolled off the page after only a day.

A few companies that I expected to see as winners did not place. Finalist Yelp, for example, did not make it into the top 100. At Webware, we love Yelp, despite a criticism we mentioned recently. We fear that this critique may have turned the Yelp founders and community against us, and we think they boycotted the awards. That's a shame.

Not all voting drives had the desired effect. Several users told us that they were driven to the Webware Awards by a company they liked, but when they saw all their voting options they cast the ballot for another product. That's what we like to see: independent thinking.

We'll be running these awards again for 2008. We already have a list of improvements we plan to make, but if you think the process and the end result could be improved, post your TalkBack here. You can also write to me via this form or directly at rafen@webware.com.