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Study shows top 50 growth sites

Personal expression and communication seem to be the name of the game for Web site growth, according to a new study by Media Metrix.

Personal expression and communication seem to be the name of the game for Web site growth, according to a study released today by Media Metrix, the PC Meter Company.

The study measured Top 50 Fastest Growing Web Sites growth in audience reach between December 1997 and June 1998, according to the research firm, which uses proprietary technology to determine Web usage patterns. At the top of the list were sites that offer space and resources for personal home pages as well as chat and email, the firm said.

The top five sites on the list were Angelfire.com, Xoom.com, Preferences.com, TheGlobe.com, and Hotmail.com, all of which offer community-oriented services.

Consumer e-commerce sites also played heavily on the list, with booksellers Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com and Net auction site eBay landing in the top 25.

Rating traffic on the Net has become an influential but controversial undertaking, with firms such as RelevantKnowledge, NetRatings, Media Metrix, and Nielsen Media Research's online unit all vying to be the authority on who goes where online. The firms--whose methods and accuracy have been the subject of debates lately--wield tremendous power, since, similar to television ratings, Web traffic ratings help determine how much a site can charge for advertising.

"Media Metrix identified the trend in popularity among community Web sites as early as 1996 when consumers first started using the Web to connect with others all over the world," Steve Coffey, vice chairman and chief research officer of Media Metrix, said in a statement. "Consumers are attracted to these Web sites because it gives them an outlet for creativity, instant access to and potential recognition among an audience of millions."

The study, which polled an average of 11,000 U.S. Net users monthly, ranks sites based on "reach point increase," a measure of unique visitors that is presented as a percentage of the audience as a whole.