Dec. 28 2012 12:00 AM

The lily pond fiasco, prison rape and internet piracy topped the list

The infamous water fight
Photos by Justin Hudnall

As a print publication, we have trouble knowing what stories grip readers and why, but as a publication with a website, we know exactly which stories are pulling in visitors.

A few caveats before we bust out the 10 stories that lured in the most traffic in 2012: First, obviously stories that came out earlier in the year aggregated more traffic than stories that came out in recent weeks. Second, who knows what bots may have snuck past Google Analytics' filters. Finally, since we're drawing from online traffic, these numbers don't represent an exclusively local audience. In fact, roughly 42 percent of our traffic came from outside of California this year. 

Also, we'd like to tip our hats to Voice of San Diego, Wonkette, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Romenesko and KPBS for pushing traffic our way this year. Mostly, though, we owe much gratitude to our readers for using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Stumbleupon to share our links.

Without further ado... ---

1. #PIPA is the New #SOPA 

The first editorial of the year addressed the nefarious anti-piracy legislation moving through Congress and broke all records for traffic to our website with almost 70,000 views. We attribute it to good SEO, hitting the right note at the right moment, and linkage from Rep. Darrell Issa. 

2. Balboa Park water fight was a tragedy of the commons

No story stoked more outrage citywide this year than the summer water fight that left the Balboa Park lily pond in tatters. CityBeat contributor and So Say We All founder Justin Hudnall had the best, and perhaps only, eyewitness account. 

3. Knitting Guy given 10 days to remove stop sign flowers

Never underestimate the power of the international craft cosa nostra. Kelly Davis' blog post on the persecution of Bryan the Knitting Guy, who turned Clairemont stop signs into long-stemmed roses through knitting, became the rallying cry for the online arts-and-crafts movement. 

4. Chad Michaels is out to take reality TV with a bang (and a tuck)

Columnist Enrique Limón is no longer with us (not dead, just in Santa Fe), but his January profile of RuPaul's Drag Race star Chad Michaels continued to draw traffic for months. 

5. M.I.L.F.

Caley Cook's 2004 essay on pop culture's obsession with sexy mom's continues to drive an embarrassingly steady flow of visitors to our site, mostly from the Wikipedia entry for MILF.

6. Pop-culture trends that are not invited back to 2012

Haters gonna hate. Users gonna love it. 

7. Raped behind bars

It's quite affirming to learn that a subject that no one really wants to talk about-prison rape-is one that people actually do want to read about. 

8. Ridiculed and ostracized, rollerbladers hit new strides

Peter Holslin confronted the stigma of rollerblading while covering the sport's recent renaissance. 

9. Carl DeMaio A to Z

Our encyclopedic takedown of the mayoral candidate may not have cost him the primary, but hell if it didn't feel good to lay it all out. 

10. Facing closure, the Ché Café calls for help

The subversive, radical music venue at UC San Diego was in danger of tumbling off its own fiscal cliff-that is, until a little publicity and a social-media campaign pulled it from the brink. 


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