Motherboard published thousands of stories this year. Some of them were great, some of them were kinda bland; some of them were hugely popular, some fell flat. Those two gradients are always as tightly correlated as we'd like, but running an internet media outlet means successfully blending our big, intensive features and investigations with more digestible reporting and some fun stuff too. Editing is not much different than DJing, and sometimes you first gotta play Montell Jordan before you get people dancing to Curtis Mayfield.
I'm happy to report that all the stories on our list of favorites—our most ambitious, our most impactful, the ones we all got in this business to do—were, on the whole, read by a whole boatload of people.
But what were our most popular stories, the ones most scintillatingly clicky, the ones that jumped out and grabbed your eyeballs as you thumbed through your feeds? In a shock change from years past, the most-read stories we published this year weren't all about sex and drugs. I'm not sure if that says more about the Motherboard staff or all of you lovely readers out there, but hey, I'm sure our moms are happy.
The #1 Most Popular Motherboard Post of 2016
Watch This Guy Turn on a 20,000 Watt Light Bulb
Video posts are the most consistently popular format on Motherboard, so this one going wild doesn't come as a shock. We don't aggregate news, but we do try to publish a couple cool vids a day since you all sure seem to like them. We do too!
2. Goodbye World: We’ve Passed the Carbon Tipping Point For Good
Headlines are the most important factor in whether a story gets read or not, which is why there are so many terrible or misleading ones out there, or good headlines on stories that don't deliver. This is a good headline on a great story, and I'm stoked to see an environment story at #2 this year.
3. 'Pokémon Go' Players Are Spoofing GPS Locations to Catch' Em All
Pokémon Go appeared to be a traffic bonanza for just about every site that could cover it, as the game was just a wee bit popular for a hot moment this year. I'm happy that our most-read PoGo story highlighted one fundamental question about the game: How willing are people to leave the house to play a video game? Obviously folks were more than willing to during the height of the craze, but now? Maybe not so much.
4. Watch Over 100 People Try to Stop a Plane Landing in GTA V
It's all too easy to be cynical about viral videos but I enjoyed the hell out of this one. It's always cool to see people band together for a singular task online, and stopping a jet with a crowd makes for one surreal experience.
5. Watch a Speed Test Comparing All the iPhones Ever Made
I'm not entirely sure that iPhone news is as popular as they used to be, but it doesn't seem that way. In any case, comparisons like this make for a great entry point in some tech history, which we all love. (For some more ephemeral gadget history, Tedium is always fun to read.)
6. Geniuses Say Apple Knows About iPhone 6 ‘Touch Disease’, Won't Admit It Publicly
We're always pushing Motherboard to take a more populist approach: Shiny gadgets and laser-armed drones are all fun to think about, but what matters the most it how those things affect all of us. I'm glad to see that this exposé on a critical hardware flaw that Apple refused to discuss publicly, despite tons of user complaints, did as well as it did as it's an ideal Motherboard story.
7. The Artist Behind ‘Baby Dick’ Trump Pic Is Now Banned from Facebook
Trump stories surely topped the list of a lot of media outlets' most popular reads of 2016. Since so much of Trump news revolves around microcontroversies that he creates himself to distract from past controversies—an outrage pyramid scheme, I guess—we didn't cover him all that much, aside from his astounding lack of concrete positions on most everything in our wheelhouse. But Facebook's ongoing difficulties with its News Feed and censorship are notable, and this story makes for a rather bizarre juxtaposition with the other big story this year about Facebook blocking an image.
8. Who Is the Last Active Player in This Long-Dead MMO?
This is a question I never thought about until it was asked, and now I can't stop thinking about entropy in digital worlds.
9. Climate Change Just Opened a 'Gateway to the Underworld' in Siberia
A truly fascinating story that highlights one of the biggest questions around our warming world: What happens when permafrost melts? Well, all kinds of crazy shit happens, from releasing ancient viruses to opening up hell portals. Let's try to keep the frozen stuff frozen, okay?
10. The Canadian Military Is Investigating a Mysterious Noise In the Arctic
I love weird sounds!
from Here Are the 10 Most Popular Motherboard Stories from 2016