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Most Popular Planning Articles of 2018
Anyone who has maintained a website or blog knows that Internet traffic can be a fickle beast. Can't miss stories can go unnoticed, click bait can be ignored, and small, simple stories can get swept up in a wave of viral momentum.
Trends emerge in the aggregate, especially when publishing every day (even Christmas), all year long—60 posts every week. For Planetizen, the stories that rise to the top have several common traits: broad applicability and a "long tail" of usefulness (which attracts new visitors via search engines like Google).
When looking for trends of more specific note, one story stands out above the rest, however. On December 14, 2018, Willamette Week broke the news that an Oregon legislator was drafting legislation that ban the practice of single family zoning in the entire state of Oregon (for cities over a very small population threshold). Planetizen shared that news in the next day's news feed (a Saturday, usually the slowest day for traffic of the week), and the article immediately shot to the top of our analytics tools. Within a week, that bit of particularly juicy news ended up the most-read news story of the year, by a long shot, without the benefit of a year's worth of Internet searches or late social media shares.
There's a clear message to be interpreted from the success of the story about Oregon's prospective legislation session: people are hungry for, or greatly afraid of, changes to the dominant powers of 20th century planning. (The number of comments and social media responses lambasting the state of Oregon for banning single family housing, not single family zoning, shows how much misunderstanding still drives the public debate on the subject as well.)
It must be noted that the most popular stories don't necessarily indicate the most essential or groundbreaking news stories, discoveries, or opinions of the year. (We know that because there were many such stories among the 3,000-plus articles we published this year that didn't make into the top 30 listed here, but it will probably be apparent to you as well.)
Articles that manage to be both essential and popular are what we strive for every day. We hope you'll join us again in 2019 in making and reading more of the same.
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