The Internet ABCs
Top 26 Websites Everyone Should Know
If you weren't born yesterday then you already know facebook, twitter, tumblr, youtube, google and I'm sure we could both rhyme off a dozen more of the standard surfing fare. However, those sites haven't meant that much to me compared to many other sites that offer a specific service or niche community/database. This is the list of the 26 sites that I couldn't have done without and I have added a little description of what its value has been to me. Some of you will know all of the sites already, but if you don't, check'em out.
Also, I am providing a traffic rating for the sites that was up-to-date in May, 2016. The information comes from trafficestimate.com and is confirmed at Alexa.
Also, I am providing a traffic rating for the sites that was up-to-date in May, 2016. The information comes from trafficestimate.com and is confirmed at Alexa.
A is for...
Artcyclopedia - Rank: 151,486
Artcyclopedia provides an ultra-comprehensive database of every visual artist that has ever had their work in an established gallery. The artists range from ancient times to contemporary. Each artist has their own profile page with links to known galleries of their work online. The site was invaluable to me for my mobile game, Puzzle Art. If you are interested in the history of art, this is the site to visit. One of the problems with the site is that many of the links on artist pages are dead.
B is for...
Bitsnoop - Rank: 5,476
Bitsnoop is very useful to me given that I am a media critic and a cinema scholar. There is often media that can be difficult to find and when the other torrent sites are missing something in particular, Bitsnoop has been known to come to the rescue. Truth be told, I strongly believe that media piracy has destroyed the entertainment industry and blocked people like me from having careers in the entertainment world, however, I still use torrent sites for my research for school and LowBrowsing. One of the downsides to the site is that there are rare torrents that show seeders, but no one is ever online seeding them.
C is for...
Comicvine - Rank: 21,371
Comicvine is the major source for information on the history of comic books. There are useful lists generated by users as well as profile page entries for every comic book character from any published comic book. In fact, you can search based on powers and origins of the characters which has been useful for me given that I created my own comic universe with a full roster of original characters. There are listings for artists and critic reviews, as well as useful links out to related sites. One of the downsides to the site is that there is no place to post original characters and protect your IP that way as the admins only approve profile pages for characters that were in published comic series.
D is for...
Deviantart - Rank: 250
Deviantart is still the top site for contemporary artwork. There are still thousands of professional artists active on the site. The site is waning in popularity ever since the original owners sold the site to a group that doesn't care about artists. Many pro artists have left the site since then. This is a shame. When the site worked properly I used it to find artists for commissioning close to 100 concept pieces for the characters from my W.A.R. Universe. I also started groups on the site and generally just got to follow the work of thousands of amazing illustrators and painters. Of course the major downside to the site is that the lax attitude of the new admins has led to rampant trolling and many petulant amateur artists have been allowed to post insulting and ignorant "critiques" on the work of established professionals. This has chased off the professionals. Also, many groups that would be useful for promoting quality work are administered by amateur artists who use their position abusively, blocking quality content that makes them feel insecure. Many groups are too hermetic and create a false sense to their watchers that they are having access to all the relevant art that they are interested thorough joining the niche groups.
E is for...
Ebay - Rank: 25
Admittedly, I have never bought anything off of Ebay, but I do use it to remind myself of things I used to own and to keep updated on the going value of items that I own. It is fun to search through pages of collectibles and always tempting to put in a bid. I have listed items on Ebay in the past and had interest, but the offers always happen in private emails and never reach the value of what I was asking. No big deal. The major downside to the site is that vendors can collectively inflate the value of niche items in a colluded way.
F is for...
Freeones - Rank: 3,686
Freeones is one of the oldest sites that I have turned to. It provides links to photo galleries for most female models, actors, musicians, athletes and pornstars. The links are well organized and the search engine allows for a lot of advanced customization. The downside to the site is that most of the links are to very generic galleries.
G is for...
Gamefaqs - Rank: 543
As an avid gamer my whole life, Gamefaqs has been an invaluable resource. I often turn to this site in order to find playthrough guides or cheat lists. The site has entries for pretty much every console game that has ever existed and popular games have multiple guides to choose from depending on how you prefer information organized. The downside to the site is that a particular game may only have one guide, but the guide isn't written by a player who went through the game thoroughly or purveyed the information in the most organized way possible.
H is for...
Huffington post - Rank: 144
Truth be told, I only refer to Huffingtonpost on occasion to cross-reference my news sources. The large news agencies are right-leaning while liveleak is libertarian. Using the Huffingtonpost as a liberal source helps sort out what the real facts are from news stories. The three positions provide their own brand of spin, but whatever is common between the three sources can be assumed as factual... or as close as one is going to get to it short of being an eye-witness to the actual event. The downside to the site is that on its own it is useless and only encourages dogmatic thinking because of its staunch odd liberal position.
I is for...
Imdb - Rank: 54
IMDB is the definitive database and archive for audio-visual entertainment (television, film, stage, video games, pornography, etc.). As a cinema scholar, I constantly refer to IMDB for information on filmography, dates of movies and even reviews on occasion. One of the problems with the site is that there are too many hack critics that saturate pages with their relatively uninformed reviews.
J is for...
Jstor - Rank: 1,913
JSTOR is an invaluable resource for academic scholars. My Masters degree might have been in jeopardy if I didn't have this amazing database available. The database has endless online journal essays and even digitized books. The downside to the site is that maximized access comes from being logged into personal university accounts.
K is for...
Kickass - Rank: 76
Kickass Torrents is the best torrent site online and I would confidently say, much better than Piratebay. Kickass has an unbelievably high number of actively-seeded torrents. It seems like the site is offline less than the other torrent sites. The downside is that they switch up their domain alot, so sometimes you can find yourself going to a bogus and dangerous site. The best way to check is to go to alexa.com and see which Kickass has the highest traffic rating. Once again, as a media critic, I need access to torrents and depend on P2P sharing, however, I do disagree with the general population's use of pirated media. In fact, to show my good will I tend to stay away from torrents for media that is less than five years old and 95% of the media in my catalogue is movies and music that I once owned on out-dated formats.
L is for...
Liveleak - 1,023
It is difficult to describe how profound Liveleak is. The content on the site is about as close as you get to darknet content on the regular web. There are other sites off the onion router for gore, executions, fights and such, but the difference with Liveleak is that LL uploaders post content for everything interesting, including feel-good stories. The community is very active and although the community has varied politics, most are staunch libertarians who believe strongly in the right to bear arms and are against immigrants and absolutely despise Islam. Most are also very prejudice against African-Americans and Judaism. If you think you can show up with your opposing politics... think again. You will be censored, blocked, attacked and maybe trolled. The "LLers" like to control their fate given that they spend all day fixating on news that proves they have no control over their fate in fact. I would say that Liveleak is the most useful website on the internet and if you don't like the politics of the forum regs, then just be a pleb and don't signup to the site. The site admins make claims that they do not censor, but they actually empower "regular" users to be able to handle a lot of the heavy work on regulating the community.
M is for...
Metacritic - Rank: 1,741
Metacritic is a site that I use sporadically when doing research for school papers or online articles. Rotten Tomatoes is an overrated critic site and many of its official critics have no business claiming the title. Metacritic ratings are more legitimate as far as critic compilation sites go. The downside is the same downside for any site such as Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes - critics can be shills, admins can favour a particular brand of politics and it is difficult to persuade older critics to retire and stop clogging up the pages with their out-dated rhetoric, stale values and irrelevant outlook.
N is for...
Nudevista - Rank: 1,491
I am always surprised that most of the people I know have never heard of NudeVista. If you are searching for porn videos online, this is the site to use because it collects videos from all other porn sites into a meta-directory. You can scroll over videos to see vidcaps. The downside to the site is that the most reliable porn sites (xhamster, xvideos, pornhub, etc.) can be buried in results. Perhaps, this is the case because the engine generates results with the newest content first or it could be that more obscure sites pay to be placed higher in results. Likely it is the former that is true.
O is for...
Opensubtitles - Rank: 1,560
Opensubtitles has been a valuable site for me while I was in school. Many of my courses focused on international cinema and this site often had English subtitles for the films that I researched. The site can be very useful for non-English speakers looking for subtitles to English media in their own language. The downside to the site is that sometimes you have to tweak the start time of the subtitles in your VLC player because it can be out of sync due to the creator of the file having used a different version of the movie when creating the subtitles.
P is for...
Piratebay - no, wait... Pornhub - Rank: 65
I was going to do an entry for Piratebay given that I believe it is the second best torrent site, however, it has been attacked by the courts quite a bit recently. As I write this, the site's domain is brand new and I'm not sure that it is even the legit Piratebay or some kind of gov't troll database. That is my main concern with torrent sites and it is just a matter of time before P2P will have to redesign its interface to circumvent prosecution. So, with that said this entry is for Pornhub which is a little better than Xvideos in two regards - the related video links are a lot more relevant to the video being watched and the quality of videos is much higher overall. The downside of Pornhub compared to Xvideos is that there is more content on the latter.
Q is for...
Quora - Rank: 127
Quora is a question-and-answer website that has a huge database. Searching for a question can lead to a lot of related questions that provide interesting answers. Although, wikipedia is more reliable, the community at Quora fact-checks on themselves. If you have a quick question to get some clues to further research, Quora can be useful. The downside is that everyday people are not gifted researchers and many answers to questions are contentious for that fact.
R is for...
Rate my professors - Rank: 3,733
Ratemyprofessors has been an extremely valuable site to me as a university student. Often, in senior years it is important to pick the right courses to keep your GPA as high as possible. This site can provide valuable insight into how difficult or "unfair" a professor can be. You can also find out if the prof is a tough marker or whether their course is any good. I haven't added a review for any of my profs but have been tempted to. This is the downside of the site... you have to ask yourself who the people reviewing profs are, if you aren't one of them. Therefore, can the reviews be trusted if they represent a slight cross-section of students? When I cross-reference some reviews with my own experience I tend to notice that the reviewers were poor judges. Some professors are very fair but tend to embarrass lazy or arrogant students in class or through comments on papers. Those students will make an effort to provide a poor review. That being said, some reviews are spot on. The real problem is when dogmatic profs have a cult of personality and develop a little flock of devout followers. The review will reflect the prof being unconditionally wonderful when in fact they are some of the worst scholars in the institution. So you've been warned about the randomness of this site.
S is for...
Snopes - Rank: 1,905
Snopes is a great reference when you see something spurious on Facebook or Youtube. When a story looks like shit, smells like shit... Snopes will let you know if it is in fact, shit. Snopes debunks most, if not all online conspiracy stories and other questionable news items. It is a tabloid antidote. The site splays out all relevant information to confirm a story as legitimate or bogus. The downside is that sometimes there isn't as many facts as you would like to feel confident about the Snopes conclusions.
T is for...
Thesaurus - Rank: 342
As a writer, I rely on Thesaurus more than any other online resource. The dictionary is connected to the site. There is a good listing of related synonyms and antonyms. There is no downside to this site.
U is for...
Urban Dictionary - Rank: 641
Urban Dictionary is a great resource when you are introduced to a new term online. Almost every short-form contemporary term is registered at the site. Video game lingo or troll lingo can be quickly referenced. The site also has a lot of funny terms, like perverted sex terms. The downside of the site is that the browse feature reveals how clogged the site is with redundant terms. Also, popular entries can have dozens of definitions because all the content on the site is user-generated and the definition at the top is often not the most clever or accurate definition in the list.
V is for...
Vimeo - Rank: 193
Vimeo is a great site for uploading high-definition videos. Youtube puts a cap on frame rates that Vimeo doesn't which means that most Youtube videos will not have the high resolution that Vimeo videos will. Also, Youtube is now unbelievably clogged with two types of useless content making the search engine relatively pointless for browsing. The two types of content are corporations putting up redundant product promotion material while the other is the regular videos of everyday people. Vimeo's content is mainly generated from creative types and real artists. The downside to Vimeo is that there is a weekly cap on upload bandwidth... but in a sense this is what discourages non-artists from using the site, which is a good thing.
W is for...
Weebly - Rank: 278
X is for...
Xvideos - Rank: 49
Xvideos is one of the most reliable sites for online porn videos. The database is huge and not many videos get pulled. However, a lot of the content is low quality and the suggested videos are often unrelated to what is being watched.
Y is for...
Youtube Mp3 - Rank: 284
Youtube has become the top resource for music. It is hard to know how popular the site is because the admins encourage bot-generated views, but undoubtedly the site is the most popular interactive website on the internet. Youtube MP3 is a very useful tool for generating an audio file from a Youtube video. It is a simple matter of cut-and-paste. There is no downside to the site apart from the guilt that by using it you are contributing to the decay of Western culture and the poverty of the music industry.
Z is for...
Zamzar - Rank: 3,636
Before I had Photoshop, Zamzar was a very useful online service for file conversion. I could easily convert my word documents into pdfs. I now use a program on my desktop to do that and I use PS for image file conversion, yet Zamzar still offers the option to convert between dozens of different file formats. The file is emailed to you in a timely manner. The only downside to the site is that there is a cap on the file size, unless you decide to pay a fee.