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Reason's "Most Engaging" Stories of 2017: No. 1 Will Blow Your Mind

From defining "the fragile generation" to breaking the story that IRS won't enforce Obamacare's mandate, these are the pieces you spent the most time with.

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.

If you like what you read and watch here, please subscribe to the print or digital edition and consider making a tax-deductible donation to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.

Here they are, in ascending order of "total engaged minutes" according our analytics program, Parse.ly.

SnapchatSnapchat10. 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.

|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.

|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.

|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.

|Apr. 26, 2017 9:40 am

Total engaged minutes: 200,682

Laurie WheelerLaurie Wheeler6. 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.

|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.

|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.

|Jan. 31, 2017 9:30 am

Total engaged minutes: 299,990

ReasonReason3. Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists: Perpetually raging about the world's injustices? You're probably overcompensating.

|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

|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.

& from the December 2017 issue

Total engaged minues: 4,284,023

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Total engaged minues: 4,284,023

    Who has four million minutes to invest in a story??? PASS.

  • Bee Tagger||

    My goal has been achieved, I will finally close my browser tab.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Interestingly, that article has no comments from Ken, John, Tony, or Hihn, which makes this number that much more amazing.

  • Subpoena'd Woodchipper||

    Have you met Hihn? He's so jacked up on his own hubris, he needs no sleep

  • Maven Houlihan||

    2018's most engaged story: "Reason.com is tracking how many minutes you spend looking at each story"

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Nick Gillespie is watching you.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    At my age, I don't even enjoy doing it, unless someone is watching.

  • EscherEnigma||

    It's not something I would have guessed they track, but in retrospect it's pretty obvious as it's the best way to know what your reader-base is interested in. Superior to just "clicks" in that someone that pops in but immediately loses interest and leaves won't over-skew it, thus depressing the "success" of "click-bait" and rewarding topics that prompt more discussion.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    So basically, these are the stories that were most popular with slow readers.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Hey Nick, why doncha list them by comment count? That would be far more interesting. Then throw in a graph of comments per hour to see whether they are bursty and how long a tail they have.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I got yer long tail right here! [grabs own crotch]

  • ByteRot||

    No, those graphs are trade secrets for Big Reason Data.

  • mica||

    That would be more useless as most comments sections stray from the topic quickly,do not even relate to the article.

  • Sevo||

    Nope, not even close. #1 by a mile:
    "2016 Election: Donald Trump Wins the White House in Upset"

  • Bubba Jones||

    ENB should read her own article about outrage and then reconsider her tweeting habits.

    What happens to the metric if I fall asleep while reading a story?

  • sarcasmic||

  • H. Farnham||

    "11 Minutes Searching a Woman's Vagina", "Send a Woman to Jail for Touching a Horse", "Expelled for Sexual Mixconduct"

    Bunch of perverted deviants around here.

  • Ecoli||

    1. They are just being thorough (or Thoreau if you prefer).

    2. They love animals.

    3. They are pure.

  • Jerryskids||

    If you think touching a horse is deviant behavior, you should see the number of people who enjoy toeing a lion.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    No. 1 Will Blow Your Mind
    Usually when I fall for click bait at least there's some cleavage involved. Reason gives me Rand Paul and a kid in bubble wrap. Jeez.

  • Eman||

    Obviously there's a whole half a percent of America that's into it. You wanna be careful messing with success.

  • JuanQPublic||

    3. Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists

    Exhibit A: Twitter.

  • Eman||

    You don't need science to prove that everything everybody does is self serving. The fact that they're doing it is proof.

  • Walk_on_Walter||

    With a four-year-old and a twenty-month-old I hover over like a methed-up bomb tech with a case of the DTs and Parkinson's hovers over a nuke as the clock is ticking, I went right out and bought a copy of Lenore Skenazy's book as soon as I watched her video with Nick. I'll be reading it over the weekend and implementing its advice.

  • Titanicguy||

    "Number One Will Blow Your Mind"? Really, Reason? I thought you were better than that.

  • Peter Verkooijen||

    Irony/sarcasm?

  • Eman||

    When every headline is clickbait is it still irony? Does it even matter?

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