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We’ve had quite the year here at MakeUseOf, with thousands of articles published, dozens of hardware giveaways Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway The console wars are officially raging, and we've had sufficient time with both of them. That begs the question: how does the Xbox One compare? Read More , a burgeoning collection of rewards for readers, a controversial makeover MakeUseOf Had A MakeOver MakeUseOf Had A MakeOver Notice anything different about the site? MakeUseOf has undergone some major cosmetic changes and is now looking better than ever. It's not just great looks -- we've sped up the page load time and added... Read More , new writers joining the team, and new columns increasing the range of content covered.

We’re giving ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, and were hoping you would do the same. We thought we’d had a big enough year that, when prompted to recommend an article from 2013 to a friend, the readers would respond in droves. We were wrong.

OK, So We Suck, What Of It?!

We asked you to Recommend A MakeUseOf Article From 2013! The premise was simple: you recall your favorite article from the past 12 months, post a link, and tell us why you liked it so much. Unfortunately, the number of people choosing to do so was pitiful.

This has to go down as a FAIL on the part of MakeUseOf, hence the posting of the video below showing some of the best FAILs seen in recent times. The only positive is our ability to admit when we’ve fallen short of our usual high standards. Blame me… just like my editors.

The effort wasn’t a total bust. One reader recommended the MakeUseOf Guide to Online Shopping by Tina Sieber. A great find, obviously, but one that was published in 2010. Another reader recommended the daily Cool Websites & Tools column written by Mark O’Neill. Another excellent recommendation, but a little too general to fulfill the criteria.

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The best recommendation was the article suggested by the winner of this week’s Comment Of The Week (see below). Titled How To Set Up Your XBMC Media Center, this was a guide written by Justin Pot and published in February 2013. And well worth a read it is too.

Comment Of The Week

There was a distinct lack of comments this week, so all three people who took the time to recommend an article get a mention. Those being Scott B, Sorina, and likefunbutnot. The latter wins Comment Of The Week for actually following the guidelines and recommending an article published in 2013. Therefore, likefunbutnot with this comment Recommend a MakeUseOf Article From 2013! [We Ask You] Recommend a MakeUseOf Article From 2013! [We Ask You] Read More :

The first thing that comes to my mind was the February 2013 article on Configuring XBMC. The subject matter has a somewhat narrow range of interest compared to a broadly appealing article about a new Windows or iOS version, but I felt that it had a great mix of information for both new and long-time users of the product that was presented with the right level of depth for the subject matter. The MUO article on the topic is incredibly handy because it’s often difficult to find up to date, concise, well written materials for modestly complex free software projects. New users often wind up having to wade through blogs and forum posts to find out that sort of information and I think a lot of new users should be glad that someone else did it for them.

We chose this comment because, well, there wasn’t much competition.

We Ask You is a weekly column in which you have your say about a particular subject. We ask you a question each week, with the results compiled and compressed into a follow-up article the following week. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

  1. alexi
    January 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I also forgot to say that I dont like endless scrolling. it makes me to feel lost and subdividing articles into 3 columns makes me feel dizzy. in my opinion, being user friendly is the best way to get more users, just like what google search engine does. just look how simple the homepage is.

  2. alexi
    January 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    what i don't like about categorization is "cool websites & tools". i used to surf them very quickly.how ? you were putting a hyperlink for the introduced website and its title which was only one short sentence, could give us a hint if that website is for me or not. but now, i have to read whole paragraph in front of the introduced website to get the idea whats it about. i and neither of your visitors don't have time to read a whole A4 page just to know if a few introduced websites are usable for us or not.

  3. Robert B
    January 17, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I used to be an avid reader of MUO but to be honest there is not a whole lot that I can comment about in 2013. The reason you may ask, well at least for me Your biggest fail for 2013 has to be your so called new and improved (NOT!) website. It is so bad imho that I rarely visit your website now when in the past PRE makeover I used to be a daily visitor. Now the only time I come is when an interesting article is mentioned in the emails I get from you. Unfortunately I hate using your site! For me it is an exercise in frustration and endless scrolling with no way in sight to have any intelligent way to know what is available other than to endlessly scroll down the never ending page. Though some may like it I HATE IT! I I rarely visit, now I probably only make it here about once or twice in a month.

  4. Lisa O
    December 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Rats. I was thinking to spend an evening looking back at stories I wanted to nominate, but again, I was late.
    I think you're being too harsh on yourself. I think this year's articles are nothing less in quality compared to previous years. It's just people have trouble remembering specific articles amongst many you release daily without any trigger or prompt (maybe next year you can put a bit of reminder or suggestion? Or you can have several dropdowns containing list of articles published that year, broken into categories). Then to some, dragonmouth above nails it. MUO's articles are generally good, but not exactly memorable.
    Personally I'd like to see more longform, in-depth articles on technology and your views on it.
    That being said, I have to say I visit less since you changed the layout. Several things have grown on me over time, but the homepage is still a nightmare to navigate. I can't stop where I want and I can't seem to remember where I was at a given time. It's a mess. Then the punchtab login will not work correctly with slow connection. Most of the time I give up reloading (because it constantly gives me blank page) and try another day. I've missed out quite a few polls and makeuseof we-ask-you rounds.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for the input, Lisa. This was written with a sense of fun, so we don't actually think we failed in 2013 :)

      Do you like the feature-length articles and opinion posts then? They're both mediums that have to be carefully worked out, hence why there aren't that many of either on the site.

      The layout is staying, but we do hope it doesn't stop you visiting regularly.

    • Lisa O
      December 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      You've gotten an insight at my dry humor sense:) Yes, I like feature-length articles. When done right, they're more satisfying than short posts and cover more grounds. Perhaps MUO is not exactly suitable for that kind of articles? I usually go to Ars Technica for longform.
      As for layout, well, acquired taste, I guess.

  5. richard solis
    December 21, 2013 at 3:48 am

    it is pretty excellent site to visit. I kind of like the old format that used to have new gadgets. I can't complain, you do have some excellent articles and I saved for future references. Keep up the good work.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Thanks, Richard, we appreciate the kind words :)

  6. blogillu
    December 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I too agreed with most of the comments. I want to add my view here. Quality content is more important than quantity. You have provided both but we could not digest them so fast that you provided. All the best for 2014

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

      It's always nice to hear we're producing quality content! Thanks for the comment :)

  7. netexas
    December 19, 2013 at 12:01 am

    A valuable and interesting resource which I access from your RSS feed. I regularly click over to your site to read details. As for your failure, I suggest that you are not a failure but perhaps you asked the wrong question in your poll.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Maybe so. That's a failure on my part then.

  8. dragonmouth
    December 18, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Reading MUO content is like reading Wikipedia, very informative and useful, but nothing stands out in particular. But then MUO is not a yellow rag reporting the juicy/gory details of the latest Hollywood scandal.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Thank fsck for that! We're glad you like it, dragonmouth. You're a legend here at MUO.

    • dragonmouth
      December 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      "You're a legend here at MUO. "
      ????????????????????

      Flattery will get you nowhere. :P

      All I meant was that there is so much great stuff at MUO that picking a favorite article is impossible.

    • Dave P
      December 24, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Oh, I understood what you meant :)

      You're a legend as in all the writers know of you... that's what you get for being such a vocal member of the community. This is a positive, just in case you were wondering!

  9. alexi
    December 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I used to visit makeuseof frequently and even suggested to my friends but it's a while I rarely check here and the reason is clear enough: The new design ! it is confusing, not user friendly at all ! one of my favorite parts was websites but with the new design it is totally a failure ! now, I have to read the whole paragraph to know whats the website or app about ! besides, they are not well categorized as they used to. so, I think you know now why you lost at least one of your big fans !

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:39 am

      We're sorry to hear you don't like the new layout, but I got used to it over time, and I'm sure you would do too if you gave it a chance.

      What is your complaint about categorization? That's stayed the same throughout.

  10. Xoandre
    December 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Nearly every article I read of significance, I post a recommendation on facebook. If you guys are not seeing that, there may be a problem in communication or how you track those suggestions.

    Or is my single voice not powerful enough?

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Posting on Facebook is completely separate from this We Ask You discussion, but we do appreciate the social sharing. Good work!

  11. Arron W
    December 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I dislike the new layout - I find it a lot slower to recognise what I have already read, and what content is new. I much prefer the single layout system. I've also found the articles to be written just as well as they always have been - but the quality of the subject matter, I fell has taken a turn for the worse.

    And case in point for the layout, I'm trying to find older articles for examples, and I'm having to endlessly scroll down. Before I could just keep clicking the far right contents page number, or even retype the number in the address bar, if I wanted to go really far back. I used to get articles about stuff like Ninite - genuinely useful stuff. What's on the front page at the moment doesn't seem to match that quality - or in some, few, cases, isn't personally relevant. I'm sure the Rugged Camera article is good, it's just not useful for me.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

      The layout is here to stay, I'm afraid, but we do sympathize with your feelings towards it.

      Is it not that we've just expanded the number of subjects? I for one am glad our writing is still seen as solid and dependable :)

  12. bben
    December 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    The massively cluttered 3 column display that makes it difficult to go through - PLEASE- PLEASE!!! at least allow us to configure our own view to a single column display- To me this was the biggest fail of the year.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

      This isn't my department, but I cannot see the layout changing for the foreseeable future. Sorry!

  13. Ben Stern
    December 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I read your letter daily and check out about one article every two-three days. Some have been very useful. I have recommended a number to other people but was just too lazy to think about which ones I did recommend. Sorry that I didn't submit something for your poll.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Hey, that's not a problem. Thanks for reading, pleas continue doing that :)

  14. Tom W
    December 18, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I read daily and I am always finding useful articles that I know I will think of when I need them. I have a terrible memory, though, and I couldn't recall any articles without some specific prompt.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Ah, that explains the lack of responses on the original article then. I have to take the blame for that. No Christmas bonus for me this year ;)

  15. John
    December 18, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I check the site daily, have no issues except for punchtab, I hate that you all added that. I'm always having problems logging into it. Aside from that, I think this is one of my favorite go to sites; definitely in the top 10.

    • Aibek E
      December 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      hey John,

      Thanks for the input. Could you please elaboarte on what kind of issues you're experiencing when trying to login through Punchtab. Thanks in advance.

      Aibek

    • John
      December 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      It's only with Firefox at the moment; No issues with Chrome. I click the login and it comes up bank right now, nothing loads. This has happened several in the past and no, it's not an adblocker or anything, those are disabled for MakeUseOf and Punchtab. I'm sure I'll figure it out, I usually do, but it's just been very annoying.

    • John
      December 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Blank* even.

  16. Taha B
    December 18, 2013 at 7:30 am

    one of the best sites ever !

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:32 am

      I agree! But then I am biased ;)

  17. Db
    December 18, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Along with the other two comments on this article, I am easily checking-in on the muo page daily. I actually did not see the article you speak about above. I am usually skimming across the titles and clicking the top 4-5 that are pertinent to my technology eco-system (home, car, work, website, email, computers, tablet & cell).

    The article may have been a huge FAIL, but rest assured the knowledge & insight you share is.......simply put, useful. From the Top Lists to the "answers" to everything else...its useful.

    So...onto the question and my answer. From each failure you will realize 10 successes. The lessons learned from failure make you & the content produced much more useful. Here's to the past failures at muo & hoping there are more....cause I am always finding new & more useful "stuff" and I want that to continue 43v3r.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Thanks for the kind remarks, Db. We're glad you like most of the content we deliver. :)

  18. Tug R
    December 18, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Though I was resistant at first, the new layout/design has definitely grown on me. I reckon change is hard some times. And while I don't comment often, MUO is one of a handful of websites that I check daily. Thanks for the great reads!

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for reading. We truly appreciate each and every one of you.

  19. Ashok K
    December 18, 2013 at 2:36 am

    " makeuseof.com" This is the name of website I visit daily and more often than "Fb" or "Twitter". It's a wonderful site full of useful information and knowledge. Many of it's article are saved in my "Pocket/Evernote" accounts. I love your extremely useful "Guides and Cheat-sheets".

    • madhav ks
      December 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Same with me.

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Thanks, Ashok. We're glad you like the site :)

  20. Karl J. Gephart
    December 18, 2013 at 2:35 am

    I hate to say it, but you guys have gotten so bad in the last year, I've been thinking about dropping you from my reader. You used to write great tech articles right up there with the likes of Ghacks and How-To Geek. Anymore, you write on esoteric, far-off subjects - I can't even put my finger on it - the topics are just useless to me as a dev. I just blow past your feed most of the time. It's sad, really. I used to share your posts almost all the time. How about some software reviews, hardware (besides gaming consoles), operating systems, or design tools?

    • Aibek E
      December 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Hey Karl,

      Thanks for the input. I am sorry to hear that you no longer enjoy our content as you used to. i can assure that we are working hard to improve our publication these vey days and will work on your feedback. Could you point out a couple of articles which you're referring to as "..esoteric, far-off subjects.." And a couple that you enjoyed from the past.

      Aibek

    • Dave P
      December 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Karl, I'd say we've expanded our horizons, covering a much more diverse range of topics recently. But you and fellow developers are still catered for with regular articles. Try using the filter on the homepage, or just visiting the categories you're interested in.

    • Karl J. Gephart
      December 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      Aibek, I gave several examples in my response - how many more would you like? Dave, here's an example of the whiny, nonconstructive type articles I've been reading more and more in the last year: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/google-plus-to-everything-opinion/ Read commenter Erwin V of that post and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Where's the value (even constructive suggestions) in an article like this? Read Martin Brinkmann of ghacks.net - who you guys used to rival - and perhaps you'll be reminded of your former greatness.

    • Dave P
      December 24, 2013 at 12:37 am

      Is 'being entertained' not something you can make use of? That article by Justin is a well-written, light-hearted take on Google's desire to force us all to use Google+. Can you not see that it was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek? And despite this it manages to get across an important issue in technology in an enjoyable way. Plus, it's clearly labelled as 'Opinion', which means anything goes. Op-eds aren't there to add value, they're simply there to put one point of view across.

      I'll say it again: there are still plenty of articles on MakeUseOf aimed at uber-geeks, but the range of content has also become more varied and diverse. And I for one think the site is stronger as a result.

    • Karl J. Gephart
      December 24, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Dave, this is my last post on the subject. It seems you just want to argue and defend the article, instead of taking some constructive criticism. The article is whiny, negative, and unprofessional, and reads with an anti-fanboyish immaturity. It's not the least bit entertaining or humorous. "Op-eds aren’t there to add value." Really? Opinion-writing - basically, essay composition, still requires factual points from the writer to validate his topic. Otherwise, it's fiction. Looks like the days of valuable tech content from this blog have mostly passed.

    • Dave P
      December 24, 2013 at 10:31 am

      I'm not arguing, I'm merely stating my opinion, which just happens to differ from yours. These are all opinions, yours included. I'm struggling to find the constructive criticism in you comments. Aren't you just complaining that the site has changed to be less for you and more for a broader base of readers?

      Again, that is your opinion on Justin's opinion piece, one that I disagree with.

      No, the "days of valuable tech content from this blog" haven't mostly passed. Just because you don't personally like the output any longer doesn't mean it has no value. Just read some of the comments here for an alternate point of view from your own.

      We hope you stick around and read just the content that appeals to you -- as I stated in my original reply there are ways to filter the articles you see -- but that's completely up to you.

      Happy holidays :)

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