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. 


  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28