Marginal Revolution’s Most Popular Posts from 2011

1. College has been oversold. It’s hard to explain which posts go viral but this post, based on material from my e-book Launching the Innovation Renaissance, was a monster generating over 500 comments, 3000 likes and 800 tweets. The follow-up on puppeteerring in a wintry economic climate was also popular although not in the top ten.

2. Teacher’s Don’t Like Creative Students. Another monster with fewer page views than #1 but over 3000 likes and nearly 4000 tweets!

3. Philosophy Referee Signals.

4. Be Safe Break the Law, on the 55mph speed limit.

5. Possible progress in medicine, a link-post from Tyler noting a new drug that can kill many viruses.

6. What is quirky about the United States? A question from Tyler that generated many comments.

7. The Mexican Mafia another of mine that went viral with links from Time, Instapundit and Reddit.

8.  World Income Equality a graph showing how poor Americans are richer than rich Indians.

9. Explaining France, a post from Tyler explaining, well you know.

10. Common mistakes of right wing and market economists, a nice meaty post from Tyler, just a little bit more popular than Common mistakes of left-wing economists.

A few other notable posts in the top 25 were my posts on cities, India’s Voluntary City and Cities as Hotels, Tyler’s post on the S&P downgrade, my post on The Fruits of Immigration, which was  mostly just quotations but I worked hard on the final line which many people then linked to, and my post on The Great Male Stagnation.

Several posts from previous years continued to be popular. What Happened to M. Night Shyamalan? from 2010 was again popular this year probably because Slate expanded the idea into a feature called Hollywood’s Career-O-Matic.

The importance of writing a good title is shown by Tyler’s 2007 posts Why did the Soviet Union fall? and How many children should you have? neither of which generated many comments but both of which show up early in Google searches of precisely these questions. My 2008 post What is New Trade Theory? on Krugman’s Nobel may also continue to attract attention for this reason.

2012 here we come!


Is the metric google? Because it seems to me that the list is biased towards more recent posts. Is that an algorithmic quirk? Lot of the posts on the list seem within the last month or two or three. Or does MR get more interesting as the year draws to an end?

I'm guessing (hoping) the metric is Wordpress's built-in stats. It's possible that the site has seen some increase in traffic / viral posts in recent months which gives a bias to later posts, although I think the list is still fairly spread out. But I know I saw the #2 post featured on Hacker News, for instance.

(psst! Alex... the K in M "Knight" Shyamalan is not only silent.. it should be invisible!)

It's not just the K that should remain unseen.

K is now silent! FYI, it's ranked by page views according to WordPress.

Interesting that most of these posts are by Alex even though Tyler posts much more. Because Alex has stronger opinions?

Alex is more likely to take an identifiable position.

He is also more likely to write one well-developed post on a topic, while Tyler tends toward brief posts that develop into recurring themes.

unless you consider TGS a well-developed post

I'm not surprised. Alex is clearly the better blogger. He should post more.

nonsense. tyler's thinking is much more original, interesting, and influential.

Strongly disagree on all counts. His prolific linkage is great though.

And I think my comments were the most popular comments.

Great year. Keep up the good work.

Still the best blog out there. Keep it up guys.

Tyler's posts tend to be difficult to just pick up and read "cold." They are addressed to a faithful audience familiar with his themes, acronyms, etc. He has created a virtual conversation where all the background need not be rehashed. If you are in on the conversation (i.e. have been reading for a while), it is exhilirating. You have to read it every day. Of course, that doesn't make for an easy to link-to-post that "outsiders" will get. I tried reading MR several times and didn't understand what all the talk was about. Finally, I got hooked.

TC will be the one to write a post on a topic and when you Google the topic you get one link result to the post.

Thanks, the "common mistakes" were quite interesting.

I love both Alex's posts and Tyler's posts, for their own reasons. One big difference I see between them is that Alex's posts are more opinionated on political/policy, whereas it seems like Tyler deliberately avoids opinion on most political/policy issues.

Alex tends to support his very clearly stated opinions by logic and empirical measurements, avoiding appeals to authority or other weak logical constructs. I see this as a kind of "double-dare" to be disproved, which of course can invite a lot of response from commenters and the blogosphere. I think this explains the popularity of his posts quite a bit.

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