25 must-read stories from 2013

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These are the longform features worth bookmarking and revisiting from the past year. 

Virality is a cruel mistress.

Just when you think you have it all figured out, the momentum shifts, the algorithm changes, and you’re left right back where you started, fumbling with search-engine optimization. Web traffic can be volatile and at times painfully arbitrary, blossoming or trailing off in completely unexpected ways.

At the Daily Dot, we spend a great deal of time strategizing not only about the types of stories we’re going to pursue—the deeply reported investigative pieces, the engaging portraits of the Internet famous, the breaking news, and quick-hit oddities from around the Web—but how we’re going to get them in front of our intended audience.

It’s a frustrating but necessary exercise, a cycle that never quite ends and is constantly being reevaluated. For that rare combination of timing, exclusivity, and keyword magic is fleeting at best, and sometimes the needed signal boost from social traffic drivers and content curators like Digg, Fark, and Reddit just never arrives, no matter how many tips and tweets you send.

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Just as often, you don’t.

With that in mind, we compiled a list of editors’ picks for 2013—a digital sampler of our agenda-driving coverage—with an emphasis on the stories that, despite our best efforts, never received the recognition they deserved. Thanks for reading. It's been an incredible year.

The greatest movie that never was by Kevin Morris


The sentencing of Jeremy Hammond, hacker and flawed revolutionary by Joe Kloc


Now 10 years old, 4chan is the most important site you never visit” by Fernando Alfonso III


I bought myself 60,000 YouTube views for Christmas by Chase Hoffberger


Soles for Sale” by Chris Kluwe


The rise and fall of Silk Road's heroin kingpin” by Patrick Howell O'Neill


The battle to destroy Wikipedia's biggest sockpuppet army” by Simon Owens


Lasers, drones, and barges: The stock market's technological arms race by Aaron Sankin


How the Internet's creepiest meme mutated from thought experiment to Hollywood blockbuster by Miles Klee


Inside GirlTime, Lil B's Twitter-selfie cult by Audra Schroeder


The heartbreaking saga of Zhu Ling by Kevin Morris 


A DIY Internet grows in Brooklyn by Joe Kloc


GoneWild: The everyday lives of Reddit's amateur porn stars by Gaby Dunn


The real origins of Tumblr by Fernando Alfonso III


The crumbling of the fourth wall: Why fandom shouldn't hide anymore” by Aja Romano


Battling depression through video games by Tim Sampson


How the NSA used 9/11 to collect your telephone metadata” by Kevin Collier


The great defriending of Facebook by Kevin Morris


How YouTube is failing women” by Gaby Dunn


The death and life of great Internet cities” by Joe Kloc


How the Internet powered a DIY drug revolution by Patrick Howell O'Neill


The dangerous life of Instagram's playboy king” by Cooper Fleishman


Investigating the 'Psychology of Cosplay' by Lisa Granshaw


How young is too young for porn? by EJ Dickson


Inside Twitch, the site powering the eSports revolution by Kevin Morris


Photo by (stephan) remix by Jason Reed

We stayed up all night to get lucky.
The Life Every Guy Wants takes a lot of work. Meet Dan Bilzerian, multimillionaire poker player.
For 15 years, Geocities was the world's one and only Internet city. Then it disappeared. But why?
What should we make of Jeremy Hammond's steep prison sentence and the people who tried to fight it?
An entire universe of high-profit trading exists in the time it takes a honeybee to flap its wings.
This survey's results, shared at GeekGirlCon, gets into demographics, inspiration, and more.
If you're not old enough to drink, are you old enough to star in porn?
If you listen closely, you can hear a virtual symphony of teenage girls scrambling to pose.
Nod sold the best black-tar heroin on the Internet.
And it's just the "tip of the iceberg," according to one editor.
4chan's overlord, Christopher Poole (a.k.a. moot), has been financing and running 4chan for 10 years. What is next?
The women of YouTube are stuck on the outside looking in—defenseless and forced to figure out ways to protect themselves, on- and offline.
A group of residents in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn have built their own Internet out of rooftop antennas.
NFL punter Chris Kluwe reveals what life is really like online for a professional athlete.
From ecstasy busts to underground narcotics cookbooks, this is the untold history of the Internet's long and intimate relationship with drugs.
In this supernatural Internet legend, one wrong turn is all it takes to see something you’ll wish you hadn’t.
Just a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NSA began compiling vast amounts of Americans' metadata—and it hasn't stopped since.
Meet the new Facebook. You won't find many people here. But you will find a lot of trash.
Lost in the storylines surrounding Tumblr's $1.1 billion acquisition by Yahoo has been the early influence that the sites anarchaia and Projectionist had on David Karp.
Zhu's story has straddled and defined two ends of the Internet revolution, connecting two decades, two continents, and two generations.
GoneWild, a “mature, low-pressure environment for true exhibitionists,” is one of the premier destinations on Reddit.
Director Yuri Gadyukin did not owe money to a gangster. His final film was not swirling out of control. In fact, he never existed in the first place.
Some of the video game industry's biggest players want games to grow up and begin reflecting the psychological and emotional complexity of other types of media.
The Fourth Wall is fandom's way of protecting itself from outsider prying eyes, harsh judgments, and possible real-life repercussions. Here's why we need to stop being ashamed and let the public in.
Just how easy is it to buy YouTube views, and what exactly happens when you've done it?
daily dot
The 15 most popular Daily Dot stories of 2013
Virality is a cruel mistress. Just when you think you have it all figured out, the momentum shifts, the algorithm changes, and you’re left right back where you started, fumbling with search-engine optimization. Web traffic’s volatile and at times painfully arbitrary, blossoming or trailing off in completely unexpected ways.
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