2011 in review: The year's most loved and loathed stories

Ever since 2008, we’ve ended the year at Macworld.com by listing our most popular and least liked stories from the past 12 months. These rankings aren’t affected by how many people read a particular article—that’s another list altogether. Rather, these lists are created every time you hit the plus and minus buttons at the bottom of a story.

The final tallies can be a little mystifying, to be honest: Are readers giving something a thumbs-down because they didn’t like the content of the article or just the topic itself? Still, we find this to be a useful exercise. If nothing else, it provides a snapshot of what struck our readers’ collective fancy during the past year (or, conversely, what rubs them the wrong way). And it can also give us an insight into the kinds of stories that work and the ones that maybe missed the mark.

One housekeeping note that may or may not be of interest: We’re excluding slideshows from our two lists here, in large part because the plus and minus buttons are more prominently displayed in slideshows, which can skew the results. Also, we think it’s more illustrative to look at how our readers reacted to articles and not just pictures. And lest you think we’re excluding slideshows just so that they don’t dominate or list of disliked stories—and mind you, there were plenty of slideshows you people didn’t care for—slideshows would have also made up seven of our 10 most beloved stories had we kept them on the list.

Here are this year’s loved and loathed stories.

Most liked

1. 62 things you can do with Dropbox

Our readers get the full credit for this story. When we asked for ways that you use the file-synchronizing service, you responded with almost 250 suggestions. We managed to narrow it down to just five dozen tips.

2. Remembering Steve Jobs, the man who saved Apple

We published this staff-written remembrance of Apple’s co-founder on the day he passed away.

3. Review: The iPad 2

You can always expect to find at least one review of an Apple hardware release on this kind of a list, so why not a review of the follow-up to the company’s very popular tablet?

4. Steve Jobs: Making a dent in the universe

Of all the appreciations of Steve Jobs we published in the wake of his passing, this one from editorial director Jason Snell seemed to resonate the most with our readers.

5. Get your Mac ready for Lion

With its Mac App Store-only availability and lack of Rosetta compatibility, Lion was unlike any Mac OS X update that came before it. No wonder readers appreciated instructions on how to get their Mac ready for OS X 10.7.

6. Mac OS X Lion: What you need to know

Like I just said, readers were more than a little curious to learn more about Lion.

7. Review: The Verizon iPhone 4

Considering that this iPhone supported minimal differences from the iPhone 4 that originally shipped in 2010, it’s probably safe to conclude that people were fairly interested in seeing exactly how an iPhone that didn’t require a two-year commitment to AT&T measured up.

8. Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

This is one of those instances where a reader thumbs-up reflected an appreciation for the subject of the article, as opposed to the news itself.

9. How to rip a DVD with HandBrake

Knowing how to make the movies in your DVD collection available to enjoy on your iOS device or Apple TV is always welcome advice.

10. Nine reasons to switch from Facebook to Google+

This seems less an endorsement of Google’s social network and more a sign of widespread dissatisfaction for some of Facebook’s privacy hijinks during 2011.

Most loathed

1. Macware releases bundle of 16 Mac utilities

Typically, our readers have shown interest in bundles of Mac software. This was not one of those times.

2. Die, discs, die! Six reasons to kill the DVD

This opinion piece from PCWorld’s Tony Bradley failed to convince many users that the DVD was yesterday’s news.

3. Review: WD My Passport Essential 500GB USB 3.0

We gave Western Digital’s portable hard drive solid marks for providing plenty of capacity in a compact and lightweight device. Readers were less sold on this review.

4. IDC: Windows Phone to surpass iPhone by 2015

Macworld readers are understandably wary of stories that predict doom-and-gloom for Cupertino. But articles that predict doom-and-gloom four years hence? Come on.

5. Ad-supported Kindle: Why stop there?

PCWorld’s Jared Newman made the case for ad-supported e-books. Readers weren’t buying it.

6. Macworld buying guide: Multifunction printers

We were hoping to give you tips for finding the right MFP, but some readers felt our buying advice overlooked issues like driver support and the cost of color versus monochrome.

7. Adobe predicts huge growth for its Flash player in smartphones

That may have been what Adobe was predicting in February, but come November and Adobe’s decision to no longer develop Flash for mobile platforms, the company was singing a different tune.

8. Avast launches beta of free antivirus for Mac

Whether it’s this antivirus product…

9. Intego releases VirusBarrier Plus to Mac App Store

…or this one, Macworld readers don’t seem to have much use for news articles about this kind of software.

10. Escape the iOS SDK: Building iPhone (and Android) apps via Flash

Well, at least we can end 2011 having a good laugh about the mobile version of Flash.

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