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February 4, 2013

Dear Reader | Mystery malady strikes online popularity contest

What is it about knowing that something has been annointed as the “most popular” that makes us long to know what it is? Is it just a throw-back to junior high when most of us could only yearn to belong to that clique?

What is it about knowing that something has been annointed as the “most popular” that makes us long to know what it is? Is it just a throw-back to junior high when most of us could only yearn to belong to that clique?

And how did that label morph into something we’ve come to rely on when it comes to online “news?” I put the word in quotes because when it comes to online clicks, what frequently earns most-popular status is rarely something the journalist in me would consider particularly newsworthy; more often it is merely news-of-the-weird variety.

For the past several days, the feature at the far right of our webpage where those stories are compiled has been, to use a technical term, out of whack. No sooner had I written a column about why sometimes old news finds its way to a new audience and a new spot atop the chart, when the chart itself screeched to a grinding halt – and not just on MyrtleBeachOnline.com, but on several of our sister sites as well.

We put a giant editor’s note at the top of the home page to alert readers to the problem, in recognition of the adage that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

All the king’s (and queen’s) horses and all his and her men and women had worked on it for several days without being able to put it together again, at least until early Monday afternoon. That’s when one of our interactive kings alerted us that it had been fixed and should begin showing new content by later Monday.

Meanwhile, we’ll need to rely on our own interests to figure out what to read. Scary, huh?

Reading list

Since we were in the dark last weekend about who was reading what, here are some suggestions from recent editions that I’d encourage you to check out, if you haven’t already read and shared them. Wonder of wonders, none of them involve weird crime. I figure you can find that on your own.

• Vicki Grooms’ profile of the Coastal Carolina University professor who began her career in the CIA and recently went to the Sundance Film Festival because of her role in a documentary regarding what’s become known as The Sisterhood and their role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Find it on Sunday’s front page or on MyrtleBeachOnline.com at:

http://tinyurl.com/a2um9oa .

• Steve Jones’ authoritative look at trends in homebuilding as the industry works its way out of the recession that left any number of what my husband calls “arrested developments” around the Grand Strand. That one appeared Saturday’s front page, or you can find it at:

http://tinyurl.com/bdbvqa5 .

• In seeking a way to write about an upcoming annual gun show scheduled this weekend at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, David Wren found a federal study that came out days before the Newtown shooting tragedy that found relatively few people fall victim to violent, firearm-related crimes committed by strangers.That’s not the whole story, of course, but it’s a piece of the debate that has gotten little, if any coverage. That, too, was on our front page Sunday. It too, of course, is online. Here’s an online shortcut to it:

http://tinyurl.com/b7u2sfe .

I’m more than a bit biased about our coverage, much of which you can’t find anywhere else, but stay tuned. There’s more where that came from.

Thanks for reading. And think healing thoughts for our “most popular” widget. That may be the only thing that can bring it back to life. Hmmmm. I wonder if a white light appears to ailing programs in cyberspace.

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