Pardon us, please, while we engage in some end of the year navel-gazing. It’s the season of the list, when we reflect on the Top 10 whatevers and the year’s most interesting something-or-others. These articles are great, because hey, it is nice to pause and look back at the year and also because we are in the midst of some typically dreadfully slow news weeks, and we have to get something new up on the site.
So, to get in the spirit of things, here are the top six articles posted on KQED.org that won’t go away. The stories that, despite all the new and exciting things we’re writing, still draw more traffic than just about anything else we post.
Why do people keep visiting them? We don’t always know exactly. But here, I’ll drive some more traffic to them now.
We might as well start this list with a list. This article was published in 2011 on Mindshift, KQED’s blog about the future of education. It got picked up by StumbleUpon, and from there, Mindshift editor Tina Barseghian said, “It went nuts.”
Why such lasting popularity? Tina thinks it taps into people’s fascination with the future. “Will desks really be obsolete in just six years? Computers and homework? Some of this seems unlikely,” she told me.
But on the other hand, who doesn’t want to imagine a world in which rote busywork and standardized tests are things of the past?
When I mentioned this article to a colleague, another online producer, she said she imagined the post itself would eventually become obsolete — in 2021.
“It shows a real person criticizing his portrayal in a major Hollywood film. That’s somewhat unusual, especially for a relatively unknown person like Art Howe,” Jon Brooks, the article’s author, told me in an email.
Brooks said this article, posted here on News Fix in 2011, benefited from good old search results. He said Google ranked it very high on searches for “Billy Beane;” it got traffic surges when Moneyball was released in theaters and again when it came out on DVD. In fact, it still gets small traffic surges when Beane is in the news, for instance this past fall when the A’s headed for the post-season.
Wendy Goodfriend, editor of Bay Area Bites, said certain food articles get seasonal bumps; Cranberry & Rosemary White “Christmas” Sangria, published last year, has recently revived itself. But these two, published in 2010 and 2011, respectively, really seem to transcend any kind of seasonality. Vegan almond milk is in BAB’s top 10 this week, in the middle of winter.
Wendy said the long tail is pretty much how food blogging works. “I write posts that try to be local. But the reality is, people in Oklahoma are looking for creamy chicken and rice casserole.” No matter what food policy topics or new recipes or interesting restaurants she’s featuring on the blog, there are creamy chicken and vegan almond milk, dominating the field. “I’m never going to be able to live up to this again,” she told me. (“This” being creamy chicken.)
These two both appear on the Quest site, a project of KQED Science, where I work. Published in 2010 and 2011, respectively, one or the other is almost always up there on our list of most-viewed stories. And what I love about that, is that they get to the heart of a universal concern: “Where do I fall on the food chain?”
It’s nice to know why a killer whale probably isn’t going to eat me, but how do I get rid of the bed bugs that are looking for a few chomps?
I’d like to draw a lesson from these, KQED’s most successful posts. Here it is: people like to read about food, the future and whether or not we’ll be eaten. You’ll probably notice that there is something missing from this list of interests. And you’re right, but KQED just doesn’t produce that many stories about sex.