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