Best Websites Not from the USA?
December 2, 2011 12:27 AM   Subscribe

While it's true that we can consider the internet as a 'global village', my feeling is that the USA holds the most imposing bias. We can't deny the fact that a huge proportion of the best websites and online services are from the USA or are otherwise USA-centric. As someone who lives in a far flung part of the world and who enjoys devouring all manner of information from the Web, I do find it frustrating at times that there are not more international sites with influence. Probably the only exception I can think of may be with News websites such as BBC and Al Jazera. I would be interested to know what your favourite non-American websites may be, whether they be oriented to your locality but still have useful international relevance, or if they truly are an international player?
posted by boogiefunk to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Going along with your theme of news services there's RFI, Deutsche Welle, NHK, and lots of others... there are Chinese sites like Youku or Baidu... if you could only think of the BBC and Al Jazeera, I'm wondering if there's some criteria you haven't mentioned. Are you looking for international websites with content primarily in English or at least everything translated?
posted by XMLicious at 12:44 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Economist
posted by Anything at 1:07 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

"We can't deny the fact that a huge proportion of the best websites and online services are from the USA or are otherwise USA-centric." I can deny exactly that.

In terms of news then for me then the best sites are all European though I do look at American sites ike the NYT. In terms of 'community' sites like this one then the site is a product of it's users who are drawn from around the world. Social network sites ditto. E-commerce sites ditto. The fact that a site like MF or Facebook might be run by Americans or be on American based servers does not make it "from the USA" or USA-centric because without the global participation they would be different and, I would suggest, lesser, things.
posted by epo at 1:18 AM on December 2, 2011

'ike' -> 'like'
posted by epo at 1:19 AM on December 2, 2011

And I can't give any estimate about whether they have much influence, and I've only followed them for a few days but I've been very impressed by Presseurop for their coverage of the European press, as well as their blog.

One of the subjects they've followed lately actually touches on why there's so lamentably little of the sort of public activity inside the EU that presumably should also manifest as activity on the web.

The elusive European public

Jürgen Habermas: democracy is at stake

That particular subject has been covered in two recent threads on the Blue.
posted by Anything at 1:22 AM on December 2, 2011

Spotify music and MyHeritage genealogy
posted by various at 1:31 AM on December 2, 2011

When I was living in Finland this was something I gave thought to, particularly as I heard many of my friends say that they just tended to ignore US based news entirely. What emerged was that it is the English language internet to which you refer - indeed it has a heavy bias, with the factor included that the web itself and the majority of its services emerged from that location. Sadly, for those of us not comfortable enough in another language, we're forced to seek out sources with either a different bias or the least amount otherwise.

Other than those mentioned already, here are some things I do:

On google news, while acknowledging the algorithms, I change the default news site setting a few times to scan what's coming up from elsewhere - in English, these include Singapore, India and Kenya.

News with not so mainstream global/developing world flavour comes from IPS News service, mainstream stories across the African continent, in English, collated at, and (but it can get weird sometimes like when they start making puns on feral rabbits and runaway bears) and some of the Radio Netherlands Worldwide stuff.

Other regular non "news" non US sites/blogs include Putting People First on UX/innovation/user research et al (which has a significant European flavour), Arctic Startup (covering startups/VCs in Nordic) - their posts also often provide links to emerging services and sites, PluggdIn (covering startups/VCs/stuff from India), LirneAsia (telco policy on the other side of hte world, out of Sri Lanka) and specific lists on Twitter, an example would be this one on mobile collated by the C level executive of an African middleware integrator/content provider.
posted by infini at 2:22 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

As a Texan with no television and near-incessantly online, a chunk of my news comes from a subscription to the WSJ that I got for free online, but another big hunk of it comes from comedy panel-show radio such as BBC Radio 4 shows like News Quiz, and Museum of Curiosity provides a good randomization of subjects to learn about the current events of 3 seemingly random fields of thought (when they're in season). I listen to probably 4-6 BBC Radio 4 programs a week..
posted by Quarter Pincher at 3:31 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm loving the cosmopolitanism of the very recent (started airing in october) Monocle24 radio. How else would I learn about the australian mining industry, what's on the front page of the major japanese newspaper and that there is a helsinki pop up amateur restaurant event going on, all in the space of an hour?

Do you speak any other languages?
posted by lucia__is__dada at 3:40 AM on December 2, 2011

All of the above but also Global Voices Online and sites like Londonist and Shanghaiist. Also The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Tokyo Times, CBC. Indian Country Today has news from a Native American perspective.
posted by plep at 4:50 AM on December 2, 2011

(Indian Country Today is obviously American but has a very different perspective that is interesting).
posted by plep at 6:31 AM on December 2, 2011

As a German teacher I am biased, but I would say that German-language sites are user-friendly and well-designed. I rarely read the news in English, but if I do it usually is the BBC. Check out Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, and Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung. For media-centered, try ARD’s Tagesschau or ZDF’s Heute.
posted by vkxmai at 7:22 AM on December 2, 2011

ABC Radio National
posted by flabdablet at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

For a website to have true international influence it's probably going to have to be in English, that being the global lingua franca.

But this list might help you identify other major Internet players. There are several Chinese websites in the top ten most visited sites worldwide, but obviously these sites' influence is limited to those who can speak Chinese (which is a huge number of people!)
posted by imalaowai at 9:49 AM on December 2, 2011

Out on the fringes of news-y-ness you could get some interesting perspectives by following Canada's Centre for Research on Globalization and Asia Times Online.
posted by rumbles at 1:06 PM on December 2, 2011

I think your question will elicit some good responses but still reflects confirmation bias. You speak English and use American websites and see people who speak English (international varieties or not) using these websites and you think see, everyone uses these websites, and nobody uses those websites that I've never heard of! (And in addition, you are probably assuming several English-language-based sites that you use are based in the US when they are not.)

Most of my friends in Asia have never heard of Metafilter or Reddit or Digg or Delicious or Flickr or Google Reader or Tasteologie or The Guardian or NPR or Vimeo (never mind Mint or Yelp etc.), and only a minority use Facebook or Google+ or Wordpress (etc.). They use locally based blogging services that are more cell-phone friendly, etc. etc. They don't really use the "international" sites that much. This is why xkcd's internet map made me kind of laugh when it came out. It reflected a really, really narrow viewpoint.

We think our sandbox is a vast realm, but it's just a sandbox.

Here are some of the sites that I use that are not based in the US:
NicoNico Douga

The last three have more international reach. will let you see what sites are popular in various countries, by the way.

Global Voices is a very good site.
posted by wintersweet at 1:16 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

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