When it comes to online media, engagement—the minutes spent reading, watching, or listening—is the new likes.
With that in mind, I'm happy to share the 10 most-engaging stories from the thousands of articles we posted at reason.com this past year. They cover the waterfront in terms of topics, takes, and temperament, but they are all energized by our principled libertarian belief in "Free Minds and Free Markets." A plurality involve some form of state abuse of power, including literal violence against unarmed and innocent citizens and coercive force via insane regulations and occupational licensing requirements. None of the stories is about Donald Trump, which is a tribute to you, our readers, although one article by Features Editor Peter Suderman broke the story of Trump's IRS decision not to enforce Obamacare's individual mandate. Our top story of the year, which pulled the equivalent of over 71,000 hours of reader engagement, is a profound analysis of how ongoing panic over the presumed psychological and emotional fragility of children and young adults is a grave disservice to American youth. In the best Reason tradition, it doesn't simply diagnose a problem but offers concrete ways to improve things.
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Here they are, in ascending order of "total engaged minutes" according our analytics program, Parse.ly.
10. Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Replacement for Obamacare: Paul's bill equalizes tax deductibility on insurance whether obtained through employer or not, makes creating private group insurance easier, relies on Health Savings Accounts.
Brian Doherty|Jan. 25, 2017 7:14 pm
Total engaged minutes: 178, 846
9. Arizona Cop Acquitted for Killing Man Crawling Down Hotel Hallway While Begging for His Life: Body camera footage released after jury reaches verdict.
Scott Shackford|Dec. 8, 2017 11:40 am
Total engaged minutes: 183,960
8. Texas Cops Spent 11 Minutes Searching a Woman's Vagina, Found No Drugs: Harris County deputies were initially indicted for the "offensive and shocking" search, but those charges were dropped last week.
Eric Boehm|Aug. 15, 2017 10:17 am
Total enaged minutes: 187,554
7. After Challenging Red Light Cameras, Oregon Man Fined $500 for Practicing Engineering Without a License: "Anyone should be allowed to talk about the traffic signals without being penalized," says Mats Järlström. He's suing the board.
Eric Boehm|Apr. 26, 2017 9:40 am
Total engaged minutes: 200,682
6. Absurd State Licensing Rules Could Send a Woman To Jail Just for Touching a Horse: Of course. State board says she has to go to veterinary school to learn something she already knows and the schools don't teach.
Eric Boehm|Feb. 17, 2017 11:20 am
Total engaged minutes: 226,360
5. Every Cop Involved in the Arrest of This Utah Nurse for Refusing to (Illegally) Draw a Patient's Blood Needs to Be Fired (UPDATED): The Supreme Court decision forbidding unwarranted blood collection is a year old.
Scott Shackford|Sep. 1, 2017 12:07 pm
Total engaged minutes: 239,241
4. Amherst Student Expelled for Sexual Misconduct Can't Defend Himself—It Would 'Impose Psychological Trauma' on Accuser: John Doe says there's evidence his female accuser assaulted him. But a judge won't make her cooperate.
Robby Soave|Jan. 31, 2017 9:30 am
Total engaged minutes: 299,990
3. Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists: Perpetually raging about the world's injustices? You're probably overcompensating.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown|Mar. 1, 2017 8:45 am
Total engaged minutes: 307,402
2. Major Blow to Obamacare Mandate: IRS Won't Reject Tax Returns That Don't Answer Health Insurance Question: The tax agency has stopped requiring individual filers to indicate whether they maintained health coverage or paid the mandate penalty as required under the law
Peter Suderman|Feb. 14, 2017 9:44 pm
Total engaged minutes: 536,485
1. The Fragile Generation: Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed.
Total engaged minues: 4,284,023