No comment on any specific post by a class member. It is very helpful to compare experiences because each of us goes about searching differently.
What stands out in all the sites is the stark difference in audiences addressed. The Social Explorer site does a lot of the work for the user, and is not afraid to teach something. The commercial sites come as advertised, and do not get in the user's way. The clumsiness of Geography Network stems from the formidable amount of information it contains, something for users of many different levels, and showing the non-profit origins of the company. Curiously, the National Atlas and the HUD sites made more elaborate claims and delivered less than the commercial sites and especially the excellent Wis. DNR site (linked to ESRI).