It Doesn’t Take That Many Emails to Break the New York Times’ Most Emailed List

This article is over 13 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

The “most e-mailed list” seems like an increasingly weird metric of popularity in this age of Facebook likes and Tweets and Stumbles and reblogs and what have you, but it’s still a staple on newspaper websites with older readerships.

As an experiment cleverly orchestrated by The Daily Beast illustrates, e-mail is just as subject to gaming as other measurements of popularity: It took writer Thomas E. Weber and a set of compatriots just 1,270 e-mails from different accounts to push a three-week-old story on a museum exhibition featuring Sumerian mathematical tablets to the #3 spot on the New York Times‘ “Most E-Mailed” list.


Clearly, roughly 1,300 email senders is more than a handful. On the other hand, 1,300 people wouldn’t be enough to sell out one performance of “Wicked” on Broadway. More to the point, it represents a tiny fraction of the Times’ overall readership. If our results are accurate—and a Times spokeswoman confirmed that the list is based on individual senders and did not have any disagreement with this story’s methodology—out of the 30-plus million Times website visitors each month, it takes only one out of every 25,000 emailing a particular story to secure it a spot, at least for a day, in the hallowed most-emailed list.

As for why the Times features most-emailed over most-viewed, the spokeswoman responded: “We think of emailing as a more engaged action than viewing or searching, since the user is taking a personal action by proactively sending the article to a specific person or group of people.”

If 4chan read either the Times or the Daily Beast, who knows what mischief this could lead to…

(via The Daily Beast)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy