I make plenty of editorial decisions about which stories deserve blog attention. But to determine the most interesting stories of 2014, I like to look at what you readers spend your time reading and discussing.

Below is a table of the 30 most-clicked stories on the Madville Times in 2014. Note that this table isn't a perfect measure of which stories got read. Lots of people come to the blog and just read the front page every day; compare the nearly 14,000 hits for the top story below with the over 935,000 hits the home page got throughout the year. But this table does represent the relative popularity of specific stories accessed by people hitting the story link on Facebook or Twitter or clicking on the comment link to join the discussion.

Title Views
Watertown Students Dress up as Indians for Homecoming 13853
Bosworth Petition Challenged: 40% Invalid Signatures, 281 Shy of Required 1,955 10343
SB 67 Allows Religious Folks to Refuse Service to Objectionable Marriages 5430
Arrest Warrant Issued for Annette Bosworth 3904
SB 128: South Dakota Secedes: “No Fags! No Feds! No Judicial Autonomy!” 3633
Bosworth Nominating Petition: Look Legit to You? 2933
Dist. 8 Dem Skoglund Busted in Sex Sting; Party Chair Demands Withdrawal from Race 2696
Bosworth Admits Breaking Law on Petitions, But Jackley and I Hate Women 2661
Original Pancake House Rejects Accusation of Religious Discrimination 2377
South Dakota Medical Board, 2012: Annette Bosworth Histrionic, Narcissistic 2369
Powers Follows Leaders, Finds Bogus Bosworth Signatures… 2353
Hildebrand: Bosworth Pro-Choice, Pro-ACA, Pro-Gay Marriage Pre-GOP Run 2242
Court Orders DCI Agent: Stop Harassing Wife, Turn in Gun 2182
Chad Haber Announces Impossible Candidacy for Attorney General 1997
God Under Attack! Use Church for Political Ads! Jump Around! Vote for Gordon! 1973
Bosworth: Did Not Seek Legal Counsel Before Submitting Invalid Petition 1924
Phil Jensen Opposes Civil Rights Laws, Laughs About Drug-Test Hypocrisy 1886
Chad Haber Takes $200K Loan, Argues He Never Has to Pay It Back 1884
Worst Campaign Video of 2014: Annette Bosworth 1833
Bosworth Announces Press Conference… or Strip Club? 1827
SB 75: Lederman Ignores Science, Army, Local Control on Dog Breed Laws 1789
Daugaard to Future Philosophers, Historians, Teachers: Drop Dead 1740
Jensen Offers SB 128 to Protect Religious Zealots from “Anti-Straight” Bullying 1669
Bosworth Lawyer: Bosworth Campaign a Waste of Time 1618
Facing Trial November 13-14, Bosworth Axes Spokesman; Haber Calls Libs About AG Bid 1600
Bosworth Breaks Law Again, Solicits Campaign Donations from Foreigner 1595
Gay Christian Athlete Keeps Job at Catholic School 1587
When Does Life Begin? Before Conception, Says Howie 1557
National and Local Media Call South Dakota Races Before All Polls Close 1540
Huether Botches First Amendment Response to Snowplows for Jesus 1538

The most viewed story was my relatively brief note on Watertown High School's Ki-Yi Homecoming royalty, plus related reading on co-opting American Indian culture. The comment section here and on Facebook went ape the top irony of year: Arrow partisans shouting that people who don't belong to their culture have no business discussing their culture.

Perhaps to our collective blogospheric shame, sixteen of these thirty stories dealt with fake U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth and her husband, fake Libertarian candidate for Attorney General Chad Haber. Perhaps to our credit, the most popular story in that subset, and the second-most clicked post of the year, was the April 1 posting of one of the most fact-based and rigorously researched posts to appear in the South Dakota blogosphere, the challenge to Bosworth's nominating petition. That challenge did not succeed, but it led to Bosworth's arrest and indictment for perjury (trial coming February!) and may lead to petition reform proposals from incoming Secretary of State Krebs.

That petition challenge post also has an unusual staying power. Most good blog posts grab eyeballs for a day or two, maybe a week if other blogs link and respond, and then fade from view. The petition challenge announcement drew 3,091 views in April, dropped to 359 in May, then climbed back over a thousand hits in August, September, October, and December (1,209 hits!). That post has apparently proven a useful reference for folks researching Bosworth and nominating petitions.

Religion remains a big draw for this liberal, atheist blogger's audience, with six of the top thirty stories touching notably on religious issues. I had to beat up on Tea Party Senator Ernie Otten (R/6-Tea) for his sloppily drafted and doomed religious discrimination bill (i.e., if you've got religion, you get to discriminate!). Senator Phil Jensen (R-32/Rapid City) also came under fire for his fundamentalist fear and loathing of homosexuals and other folks he wants to keep outside of his America. But I came to the defense of the very religious management of the Sioux Falls Original Pancake House, which was falsely accused of firing a worker for praying (with Annette Bosworth!). Both stories drew vigorous discussion.

Moving from a count of views to voices, we see more strongly the interest in stories relating to God and gays, as well as a more diverse array of topics that you deemed discussion-worthy:

Title Comments
Watertown Students Dress up as Indians for Homecoming 401
God Under Attack! Use Church for Political Ads! Jump Around! Vote for Gordon! 341
SB 75: Lederman Ignores Science, Army, Local Control on Dog Breed Laws 295
When Does Life Begin? Before Conception, Says Howie 294
Original Pancake House Rejects Accusation of Religious Discrimination 273
ACLU Writes Letter, Miller School Board Boots Gideon Bibles 249
Gay Christian Athlete Keeps Job at Catholic School 247
Minnesota Survives One Year of Legal Gay Marriage 237
Nathan Alfson: Baseball Coach, Augie Grad, Gay Neighbor 234
SB 128: South Dakota Secedes: “No Fags! No Feds! No Judicial Autonomy!” 212
Huether Botches First Amendment Response to Snowplows for Jesus 201
South Dakota Hog Farmer “Almost Going to Have to” Hire Illegal Immigrants 194
Ebola Kills One Person in America, Thune Goes Big Government 193
State Democratic Party Reviewing Midterm Failure, Building 2016 Plan 192
Hubbel-Myers Press Conference: Nothing New But Nullification 191
Rounds Touts Rationing Panels While Making His Living Rationing Health Care 187
Debbie Martines Gone 20 Years; Killer Seeks Parole Today 186
Can SD Dems Find a Leader Like Warren? 173
Phil Jensen Opposes Civil Rights Laws, Laughs About Drug-Test Hypocrisy 166
Powers Follows Leaders, Finds Bogus Bosworth Signatures… 164
Noem Votes to Sue President, Desires Coup by Judiciary 160
Kurt Evans Running for Senate in 2016 as Independent 159
SDDP Ad in Brookings Paper: What’s Tidemann Hiding? 153
Let’s Do Lunch! Moderate McClure Seeks District 14 House Seat 152
Letter to the Editor: Rep. Betty Olson Should Resign over Muslim Insults 148
Libertarian Convention Speaker, Libertarian Blogger Oppose Haber AG Nomination 147
Weiland Airs “Auction” Ad, Showing Rounds Selling Citizenship and Senate Seat 147
National and Local Media Call South Dakota Races Before All Polls Close 144
Regents Exec Warner, EB-5 Czar Bollen to Answer GOAC Questions Next Week 144
Barth Campaigning for State Democratic Chair Job 142

Ten out of these top thirty most-commented articles related directly to matters of religion and/or LGBT rights. Four of these most popular conversation topics dealt with Democratic politics, candidates, and the route to electoral victory (which we are still avidly seeking!). Only one dealt directly with the Bosworth-Haber circus. Overall, the most-commented list shows a bit more interest in policy matters that will persist beyond the the 2014 cycle, a tendency I find encouraging.

One notable feature of both of these most-viewed and most-commented lists is the relative absence of stories on the South Dakota political scandal of 2013 and 2014, the EB-5 affair. Out of 1570 blog posts published on this blog this year (and I have a couple more coming!), I tagged 172 "EB-5" (good grief! That's 11% of my output! Compare that to my 2014 Bosworth tag count of 107). None of them made the top 30 on views; three made the top 30 on comments. These numbers may suggest that the Republican narrative prevails: EB-5 was just a Democratic smokescreen that no one was interested in. It may also suggest that EB-5 was simply a much more complicated topic, daunting to read about, even more daunting to attempt to discuss... and that I didn't do a good enough job of making it simple. More on that later today....

I have my disagreements with you, dear readers, about which stories in 2014 deserved the most attention and discussion (pit bulls? really? get a grip!). But that disagreement only seasons the great pleasure I take in offering you these hundreds of stories a year and learning what you think. Whichever stories you dig, I am honored that you take the time to read, share, and discuss these posts. Thank you for another great year of mostly civil discourse on the Madville Times!

27 comments

Dairy, death, guns, rape, religion, and Mike Knudson... poor Mike's wondering, "How'd I get in with this crowd?"

One metric of good blogging is the number of comments one draws. That metric doesn't always square with my judgment: I write some stories that I think are great (stay tuned for those in my personal top ten!) but which hardly draw a response from you dear readers. I dash off other stories that I think won't draw much attention, and you readers blow them up into 100-plus-comment free-for-alls. Such surprises are among the pleasures of blogging.

So, by comment totals as of Christmas Eve, out of over 1300 blog posts this year, here are the ten Madville Times stories you found most worth your commentary in 2012:

10. Nelson, Tornow Help Hanson County Anti-CAFO Forces Win in Court (159 comments): The mainstream GOP's bête noire, Rep. Stace Nelson, joined fellow conservative R. Shawn Tornow to help Hanson County folks turn back a 7000-head that threatened to slurp up their water. I celebrated Republicans doing the work of Democrats and fighting for sensible environmental policy... but the Hanson County folks may be more motivated by dislike of the immigrants who staff such dairies. Whatever the motivations, Nelson and Tornow won on procedure, arguing that the county didn't follow its own conditional use permit rules.

8 (tie!). Secession: Crime Against Constitution and Union (175): After Barack Hussein Obama won four more years as President, a brief furor arose among some cranky, unpatriotic conservatives who would rather destroy America than stick with it when they lose an election. South Dakotans didn't get as worked up about seceding as folks in other states, but you commenters did!

8 (tie!). Paranoia Afoot: Liss Calls for Purge of Marxist Infiltrators (175): One-term Republican legislator Brian Liss said Marxists have infiltrated the Republican Party. Liss called for purging Marxists from every American institution. Top commenter: Joe McCarthy.

7. President Barack Obama: Rape Is Rape… and Men Shouldn’t Rule Women’s Bodies (181): We took our own shots at the campaign-killing kerfuffle over Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's concept of "legitimate rape."

6. Rep. Betty Olson Wants Armed French Teachers in Your School (211): I resisted posting about the Connecticut school shooting for four days. But then Rep. Betty Olson drew me in with her proposal to let me and my fellow educators carry guns in our classrooms. Big conversation across multiple posts ensued. Worth noting: on top of the big discussion here on the blog, when I asked my Facebook followers whether I should carry a gun in the classroom, I drew 80 comments from a wide variety of friends with widely differing opinions.

5. Randazzo, SD Gun Owners Target Knudson for “Full Support” of 2nd Amendment (236): Surprisingly, this July gun post drew more comments than the any single gun post following the Connecticut shooting. District 12 Democratic House candidate Mike Knudson expressed his "full support" of the Second Amendment, and the gun lobby still attacked him.

4. Santorum Supports Telling Non-Christians to Leave America (247): The man who came in second in the Republican Presidential primary race said non-Christians should leave the United States. Rick Santorum and Brian Liss both express the unhealthy exclusivity of the conservative Republican agenda.

3. Thune, GOP Reject Universal Human Rights for Johnson, Others with Disabilities (259): This post about partisan politics leading Republicans to abdicate our nation's moral leadership on equality for folks with disabilities embarrassed our nation and outraged readers. With Senate icon Bob Dole watching from his wheelchair, Republicans rejected a U.N. treaty that would hold all nations to our standard of inclusivity and accommodation, mostly because of paranoia sown by Rick Santorum about the U.N. sending black helicopters to take kids away from home-school parents.

2. District 12 Democrat Knudson Gets Five Notable Non-Family GOP Endorsements (306): You sure thought Mike Knudson was worth talking about! In October, Knudson release a campaign flyer with endorsements from his dad Dave and five other notable South Dakota Republicans. But Knudson and District 12-mate Susan Randall still got beat by veteran GOP legislators Manny Steele and Hal Wick.

1. Tina Curl’s Fundraising Misguided, Exaggerated; We’ll Call When Moeller’s Dead (322): In the best example of how the Madville Times is no liberal echo chamber, I caught all sorts of heck for suggesting that Tina Curl and her unemployed husband might make better use of their time and other people's money in looking for work and taking care of themselves than taking an arduous road trip across the country to watch us kill her daughter's smirking killer. They came; we killed; not much good was done for anyone.

Right or wrong, agree or disagree, I appreciate your willingness, dear readers, to read the posts you find here daily, to really think about them, and to contribute to our public wisdom. These conversations matter. I look forward to more of them in 2013.

17 comments

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