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The Top 10 TidBITS Stories of 2011

We typically eschew simple numbered lists of things at TidBITS in exchange for bigger-picture articles. But as 2011 rolled to a close, we started wondering which of our articles garnered the most page views during the year. Poring through our Google Analytics stats shone a light on a truly varied bunch, in part because nearly half of them were published in previous years!

One story that I want to call out specially didn’t make the list: Michael Cohen’s “Rosetta and Lion: Get Over It?” (23 May 2011). Of all the articles we published in 2011, his exegesis on being told to ignore his feelings of being let down about Lion not including Rosetta emulation for PowerPC programs received the most comments — over 200. While many people agreed with Michael’s point, others told him to, you know, “get over it.”

Let’s count down the top 10 articles, starting at the bottom.

No. 10Find Your Lost iPhone or iPod touch with iPhone OS 3.0,” 17 June 2009. This article introduced Find My iPhone, a new feature in iOS 3.0 that apparently remains a popular topic despite the age of the article and iOS now being at version 5.0.

No. 9:Mac OS X’s Mouse Acceleration Problem,” 4 March 2007. Get into the WABAC Machine, Sherman, as we find that a 2007 guest article by Parrish S. Knight about an issue with mouse movements must still be irking people enough to turn to search engines to find an old answer. The article received a notable edit from Joe Kissell, who has mouse expertise dating from his years at Kensington.

No. 8:New iMac Gains Thunderbolt, FaceTime HD, and Quad-Core CPUs,” 3 May 2011. There was nothing terribly special about this article, a solid rundown of the changes in a new model of the iMac, but it must have hit the sweet spot of being both concise and comprehensive to merit a mention on Daring Fireball.

No. 7:Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail,” 2 May 2009. One of Joe Kissell’s most popular articles, this piece stands the test of time because of the extensive advice Joe offers to solve several interlocking problems related to email access. We’ve left comments open on this article because it’s such an evergreen, and it garnered over 100 comments in 2011 alone!

No. 6:Let’s Stop with the Siri Baiting,” 1 December 2011. A recent article, Adam’s irritation with misleading and pointless complaints about the Siri voice-processing system definitely hit a nerve. Siri is in beta, but advertised alongside other fully realized features, which is part of the perception problem. Unlike the articles up to this point, “Siri Baiting” readers came mostly from Daring Fireball and direct discovery, rather than via search engines. This was also one of our top-commented articles, with 88 rejoinders.

No. 5:Lion Is a Quitter,” 5 August 2011. Matt Neuburg answered a question on many Lion users’ minds: Why were applications quitting in the background and relaunching when needed? Matt tracked down how Lion frees up memory by dumping programs that aren’t in active use, and sorted out the logic of what happens behind the scenes. A good third of readers for whom we know the source came from Hacker News, part of Y Combinator, but we have no idea why that particular article garnered attention there. Matt answered tons of questions in the comments, which currently number 159.

No. 4:Secrets of Thunderbolt and Lion,” 27 February 2011. An early article I contributed on Thunderbolt and Lion answered many readers’ questions about the new hardware port and the (at the time) upcoming Mac OS X revision. Google News drove about a quarter of readers to our doorsteps for this item, which generated 72 comments.

No. 3:How to Replace a Cracked iPhone 3G Screen,” 30 June 2009. Jeff Carlson’s 2009 article remains widely consulted for fixing a problem that’s otherwise expensive to solve, and it carried nearly 2 percent of TidBITS’ 2011 page views — even though the advice isn’t applicable to the iPhone 4 or 4S. Google searches deliver the lion’s share of readers to this page. In fact, this is our most popular article since we started using Google Analytics in 2005.

No. 2:Our Favorite Hidden Features in Mac OS X Lion,” 20 July 2011. The TidBITS staff felt that there were so many exhaustive articles published about Lion that we wouldn’t attempt to write yet another one, but would instead look at the fiddly bits of Lion that we liked best. Daring Fireball gave the article its initial push, but search engines have kept it an evergreen since then.

No. 1:Type “Let It Snow” into Google,” 21 December 2011. This article from late Decemeber, which Adam penned for fun, quickly became our most viewed page of the year, thanks to ending up as the top news match on Google’s search results for the better part of a day. Google interleaves news and other results as appropriate into its general search, and news results for the phrase “let it snow” were shown before Web page matches, with Adam’s article on top. At times, we had 1,200 simultaneous users reading the article. We’d prefer that our more weighty prose received this kind of attention, but the Internet is
all about accidents. Interestingly, the piece also received 500 “likes” on Facebook, but only 160-some page views could be traced back to Facebook users.

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