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Weekend Number Crunch: Trolling New York‘s MEL

Read This Magazine And Spend Hours Crunching Numbers.jpgI discovered a new plaything this week: New York magazine’s version of MEL, their “Most Popular” aricles feature. Here’s the thing: not only do they have data on the “Most Emailed” articles of the day, week and month, but they have that same data for “Most Printed” and “Most Saved.” This shows, quite rightly, that email forwarding is not the only yardstick for measuring the success or popularity of a given article.

Take this week’s issue – the feature on where to score great bargains in NYC was a hit, with three separate features getting play on today’s most emailed list (Sunday is the Lord’s Day for shopping!). A look at the “saved” list confirms that these articles are not only being shared, but used as a reference: 4 of the 10 most-saved articles were part of the shopping package, and three on the most-printed list (this, by the way, doesn’t include people who use the – gasp! – actual magazine as a reference, like the girls I saw yesterday checking out fabulous vintage in Hairy Mary’s on Orchard Street, using a pen to mark off this article).

Those “Best of” packages are always a hit; if you don’t believe me, then look to Adam Platt‘s “101 Best New York Restaurants of 2006” which is the #1 most-printed article of the month, and appears high on EVERY possible list — most emailed, saved and printed — for EVERY day, week, and month possibility, in what is essentially a hat trick’s hat trick. All that said, however, it was NOT the number one article once Fishbowl crunched all the numbers – that honor went to Carl Swanson‘s “American Psychoanalyst” (nice title), which burned up the charts with a review of Bernard-Henri L&#233vy‘s “American Vertigo,” taking the top spot on four lists. Interesting revelations came in seeing which articles tended to be saved rather than emailed, or which features from a few months back are suddenly getting new life (cough JT Leroy cough). Fishbowl’s full list of New York’s top 30 articles are ranked in order of popularity after the jump; but first, some unscientific observations:

  • Swanson’s “American Vertigo” article and Platt’s 101 Best Restaurants each scored a hat trick-hat trick, and “The Rise of Craigslist” by Philip Weiss missed it by a hair.

  • The next-most-popular story was a total dark horse: “The Quixotic Candidacy of William Weld” by Stephen Rodrick, aka “The Massive 7,522-Word Piece On A Politician Most People Haven’t Heard Of.” Yet readers loved this one, printing and saving it for handy reference all week. Disclaimer: Stephen Rodrick is an esteemed FishFriend&#153, but even if he wasn’t we’d love his Sisyphus reference, which rocked. (Hi, mythology nerds!)
  • Kurt Andersen‘s wince-worthy, super-frank profile of Time Inc. editor John Huey had great traction throughout the week on all three lists. (Fishbowl almost awarded an extra point based on the kicker.) Interestingly, though Chuck Schumer technically scored higher than John Huey (based on his #1 printability), Andersen’s Huey had more all-around appeal. But they were both beat out by last week’s opera diva. Sissies.
  • The biggest blast from the published past was, of course, Stephen Beachy‘s deconstruction of JT Leroy; other callbacks included Jennifer Senior‘s smartypants Jews, Rodrick’s NYC coffee wars, Jonathan Van Meter‘s October feature on Joan Didion, and, of course, Jay McInerney‘s cover last week on The Strokes . We’re taking credit for that.
  • Jardine Libaire’s attempt to live on $10 a day struck me as a little disingenous (who knew what she had in her fridge? In her cupboards?). Besides, if you’re truly broke, you do NOT spend your precious stash on $8 drinks or a pack of cigarettes. And you’re too busy trying to find change under pillows to troll Craig’s Lists for angel, er, investors. Plus: “I begged my therapist to carry the balance?” Methinks that doesn’t quite count.
  • New Yorkers prefer blutwurstgr&#246stl and schupfnudel to Vera Wang and Cat Power. Well, schupfnudel is delicious.

Full list after the jump, along with a breakdown of the methodology (5 = Ethereal. Just kidding, Adam Platt!)


MP=Most Printed
MS=Most Saved
ME=Most Emailed

D=Day
W=Week
M=Month
*=denotes a showing in each category

Scores: Each article gets a point per list (a possible 9), with two points for being number one.

Also, this conclusively proves that I have no life.

  1. American Vertigo by Bernard-Henri Levy: 13*
    (ME-D #1,W #1,M; MP-D,W,M; MS-D#1,W#1,M)

  2. Adam Platt Picks the 101 Best Restaurants of 2006: 11*
    (ME-D,W,M; MP-D,W,M#1; MS-D,W,M#1)

  3. The Rise of Craigslist: 10
    (ME-D,W,M #1; MP-D,W,M; MS-W,M)

  4. The Quixotic Candidacy of William Weld: 6
    (ME-D, MP-D#1,W; MS-D,W)

  5. Conductor James Levine Spurns Opera Gossips: 5
    (ME-W,M; MP-M; MS-W,M)

  6. Best Buys, Biggest Bargains, Cheapest Stuff in NYC: 5
    (ME-D,W, MP-D,W; MS-W)

  7. Chuck Schumer’s Secret Plan For Senatorial Domination: 4
    (ME-D, MP-W#1,M)

  8. Who is JT LeRoy? The True Identity of a Great Literary Hustler: 4
    (ME-M; MP-M; MS-D,M)

  9. John Huey: The Good Old Boy of Time Inc.: 4
    (ME-W, MP-D,W; MS-W)

  10. Takeover and Merger Predictions for 2006: 3
    (ME-M; MP-M; MS-M)

  11. Markdown-onomics – Why Stores Don’t Expect You To Pay Full Price: 3
    (ME-D,W; MP-W)

  12. The Strokes Sober Up With Their Best Album Yet: 3
    (ME-M; MP-M; MS-M)

  13. Jardine Libaire Attempts to Live in NYC for $10 a Day: 3
    (ME-D,W; MS-W)

  14. Birdbath: Solving The Case of The East Village Bakery Without a Name: 2
    (ME-W, M)

  15. Dr. Ron’s Tough Love Business for Out-of-Control Teens: 2
    (ME-M, MS-M)

  16. Hillary Clinton Running for President Makes Her Even Less Likable: 2
    (MP-M, MS-M)

  17. The F Train Runs Down the Middle Of Good Deal Alley: 2
    (MP-W; MS-W)

  18. Are Jews Smarter? What Genetic Science Tells Us: 2
    (MP-D, MS-M)

  19. Average Joe – Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Starbucks: 1
    (MS-D)

  20. Blaue Gans – New York Magazine Restaurant Review: 1
    (ME-W)

  21. The Coffee Shop in Flatiron/Gramercy/Union Square: 1
    (MP-D)

  22. Tia Pol in Chelsea (restaurant): 1
    (ME-D)

  23. Anna in the East Village (store): 1
    (MP-D)

  24. Bill Gates Wants to Save the World: 1
    (MP-M)

  25. NBA Store in Midtown West: 1
    (MS-D)

  26. Vera Wang’s Second Honeymoon: 1
    (MP-W)

  27. Bachelorette party ideas – Cheek to Chic: 1
    (ME-D)

  28. New York Chocolate Bar Crawl: 1
    (ME-M)

  29. Joan Didion: When Everything Changes: 1
    (MP-D)

  30. Tips on How to Buy Online: 1
    (MS-W)

Each New York list had 10 items each, except for MS-D (Most Saved – Day), which weirdly had six. In the event of a tie, I went back and noted where on the list each article fell (i.e. the Takeover predictions article held #5,3, and 2 respectively), then added the numbers and ordered them lowest to highest (i.e. Takeovers totaled 10, higher than Jardine Libaire who scored #8, 10, and 10 totalling 28). The items which scored 1 point were similarly ordered (Average Joe was #3; Tips for buying online was #10) and in the event of a tie precedence was given to features (i.e. Vera Wang over Bachelorettes). I reiterate: I have no life.

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