The Best And Worst Of Everything In 2011: A Mega, Meta Mashup

We hacked through dozens of year-end lists–and, yes, checked them twice–to bring you our curated best and worst of 2011. Here’s the mother of all roundups that you will find online, offline, and everywhere else. Each line is taken from those other year-end lists.

The Best And Worst Of Everything In 2011: A Mega, Meta Mashup


Tis the season of year-end lists, the time of the season when you see the ubiquitous “Best of 2011” rankings for nearly everything–books, movies, things to do, songs, cars, iPad  apps, YouTube videos, fashion moments, Tweets and more. If you have access to the Internet and a bag full of opinions you can make your Top 5, 10, 100 and beyond, of anything you like and be guaranteed someone will read it. They can range from the entirely opinionated–“ten albums that I liked and no one else did this year”–to the somewhat informative–“ten hip restaurants that opened up in this area of town that you might not venture to that often”–to the outrageously unnecessary–“top ten things I wore on my left foot this year.” 

Some of them are hysterically funny: The 20 Unhappiest People You Meet In The Comments Sections Of Year-End Lists,  Top Jackasses of 2011 (“Too Many Make the List”), 10 Fictional Holidays from TV That You Can Actually CelebrateTop 10 Comedic News Stories, and Top 10 Celebrity Pix of 2011. Others offer a comprehensive look at the yearIn 54 wide-ranging lists, Time surveys the highs and lows, the good and the bad, of the past 12 months. The New Yorker contributed Best/Worst scandals of 2011 and E! Online promoted Best of 2011 Top 10 movies, reality showsstylish stars, royal moments, heroes, and TV dramas.

Google, Facebook and Twitter’s year-end hot topic lists offer a reliably depressing look into the Internet’s soul. Twitter topped the Social Media Buzz list followed by LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook, and spawned whole categories–The Top 10 Best Twitpics of 2011The 90 Best Twitter Accounts of 2011Top Hashtags, and Shalom Life’s Jews Top Twitter’s “Hot Topics” for 2011. Facebook “likes” Memology 2011: a look at what people were talking about on Facebook, including the top 10 status trends by country. Zeitgeist sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year’s 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011. What’s in a Word? The Top 10 LinkedIn Buzzwords of 2011 and Best Tumblr Blogs. Top picks for book lovers include The 10 Best NovelsBest NonfictionTop 10 Business BooksBest CookbooksThe Top 10 LongreadsTop 10 Words of 2011, plus Amazon’s top 10 list contained two books that were Kindle-onlySometimes the top 10 most-read stories are not what you might expectHere’s a collection of the best animal photojournalism of the yearDamn you Autocorrect reveals the 9 Funniest Texts of the Year. Then there’s the Top 10 Ex-Gay Stories of 2011Top 10 Personnel Stories of 2011, and Top 10 Cities for Holiday Lights


For the techno-geek in your life, you have The Top 10 Tech Stories of 2011, Top 10 Christmas Ideas for Robot Geeks, Top 10 Food Apps and Top 10 Medical Apps for iPhone of 2011, Top 10 Industry Trends of 2011Top 10 Security Predictions for 2011, and Top 10 Cool Digital Holiday Gifts for BoomersCheck out what’s dropping out of The Top 5 Cloud Washers–those “who have done the most to try to make a previous generation product look and sound like cloud”Top 10 USBs and Peripherals List, and 7 Best High Tech Companies to Work atThere were best of lists written for sports (Top 2011 Sports Moments, Good and Bad: A Fan’s Perspective), television (Top 10 TV Shows of 2011), retail (5 Top Retail Success Stories of 2011), politics (The 40 Best Protest Signs Of 2011 and Occupy Wall Street’s list of Top 10 Top 10s), and cinema (Roger Ebert’s picks for best films of 2011 and Top 10 Most Rented Netflix Movies). Listen up for Top Music Picks in Pop, albums, songsgame music, 10 Best Glee Season Three Songs, and most played holiday songs

Actually, a part of me is far more fascinated by the 10 Worst anythings, not least because there’s almost always something terribly funny about truly bad ideas, products, movies, sporting events, et al. The world’s biggest problem is stupidity [and] 2011 has been chock full of idiocy and ignorance. [Why], accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky has been named one of the 25 most “intriguing” people of 2011 by People magazine. W.A.T.C.H.’s annual “10 Worst Toys” list nominates representative toys with the potential to cause childhood injuries, or even death. The 10 Worst Media Disasters of 2011 include a politician who lost his place, a country singer who lost his job, and a celebrity who lost his show. The Top 10 Stupidest Holiday Gifts for 2011 [features] pooping reindeer sweaters and giant christmas tree hats. Flip through the worst smartphones of 20118 Worst Android Infections of 2008Most Expensive Computer Bugs, and 25 Worst Passwords

Everyone’s favorite Bad Mom is Kris Jenner, mother to Kim as well several other assorted Kardashians and Jenners on The Worst Parents of 2011. By March I’d already seen enough terrible 2011 releases to write a completely adequate Ten Worst Movies list. AdvertisingAge ranked “Weinergate” as The Biggest Social Media Blunder of 2011. AOL’s Tim Armstrong, Zynga’s Mark Pincus and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer made Business Insider’s Top 15 Most Hated Chief Executive Officers in Tech while The Motley Fool mashed a metaphor into a tortured simile compiling its Worst CEOs of 2011 list: “Whittl[ing] the veritable forest of worst CEO candidates down to 10… was like trying to sort through eggs in a hen farm.” A lot of great–and important–things happened in 2011. However, a lot of stuff also happened that we should just wipe from our memories, which led to Buzzfeed’s 45 Things We Should Forget About 2011. Continuing the yin-yang we also have The Best- and Worst-run Companies of 2011, The 10 Best and Worst of PoliticsThe Best and Worst Communicators of 2011, and New York City’s Top 10 Best and Worst Public Events in 2011.


Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at NYU and a contributing writer to Fast Company. Follow him on Twitter: @penenberg.


1. Billboard


2. Robert Pagliarini, Chicago Tribune

3. Helen Herimbi, IOL

4. Calvin Cohen, Calvin After Cal


5. Denise Amrich, ZDNet

6. Linda Holmes, NPR

7. Rhiannon Root, Daily Nebraskan


8. Jennifer Lewis, Flavorwire

9. Will Durst, SFGate

10. Charlotte Kuchinsky, Celebs


11. Press release, Shoot Publicity Wire

12. Time

13. Ariel Levy, The New Yorker


14. E! Online

15. Adrian Chen, Gawker

16. Mona Zhang, 10,000 Words


17. Brett Malec, E! Online

18. JP Moore, BuzzFeed

19. Twitter Blog


23. Dedicated Server Directory

24. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed

25. Arizona News from USA Today

26. Maureen Corrigan, NPR

27. Daniel K. Richter, Wall Street Journal

28. Harvey Schachter, The Globe and Mail

29. Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post

30. Mark Armstrong, Longreads

31. Merriam-Webster press release

32. Tiffany Kaiser, Daily Tech

33. Katrina Barlow, Seattle Times

34. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed

35. Samantha Murphy, Mashable

36. Wayne Besen, LGBTQ Nation

37. After Market News

38. Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City press release

39. Connie Tamoto, Winnipeg Free Press

40. Marc Ferranti, PC World


42. Russell W. Warnick, Washington Post

43. Chris Gullo, MobiHealthNews

44. Kyle Mackinnon, Beefjack

45. WatchGuard press release

46. TechJournal

47. Lauren Traut, Oak Forest, Il Patch

48. Charles Babcock, Information Week

49. Sylvie Barak, EE Times

50. Ramona Emerson, The Huffington Post

51. Ali Maclean blog

52. Deborah Braconnier, Yahoo!

53. Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

54. Lydia Dishman, Forbes

55. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed

56. John Sumpter, Tripped Media

57. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

58. Hollywood Reporter

59. Josh Antonuccio, WOUB

60. LA Times Music Blog

61. Glen Boyd, Seattle PI

62. James Dinh, MTV

63. Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku

64. Jarett Wieselman,


66. Pete Bodo, TennisWorld

67. Rick Lewis, Telegraph

68. Michael McCarthy, USA Today

69. W.A.T.C.H.

70. Press release

71. press release

72. Don Reisinger,

73. Tom Dunlop, TabTimes

74. Gizmodo

75. Judy Peterson, San Jose Mercury News

76. Claire Zulkey, WBEZ91.5

77. Mary Pols, Time

78. Advertising Age

79. Business Insider

80. Sean Williams, The Motley Fool

81. Dave Stopera, BuzzFeed

82. The Atlantic

83. Randy Shaw, BeyondChron

84. Decker Communications press release

85. Gene Russianoff, 13 WNET

86. Kyle Ellison, Drowned in Sound

87. Jeremy Cook, The Drinks Business

88. Denver Post

89. YouTube

90. Jack Shepherd, BuzzFeed




About the author

Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at New York University and author of several books


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