The data nerd in me rejoices this time of year, because it’s time to dig into website stats and identify National Driller’s top 10 stories for the year. I know you guys are busy making a living out there on the jobsite, but you’ve also clicked on an awful lot of industry and product news this year. In fact, our average annual page views for 2016 is up about 8 percent from 2015, so we have a lot to be grateful for here at NDHQ.

But, what have you been clicking on? I’ll get into that. But first, a bit about this top 10. I start monitoring the top stories in late November each year. By then, the top 10 is usually pretty set. Stories may change positions on the list, but which stories make the list don’t typically change. The list is based on total page views since mid-December 2015 (the cutoff for the 2015 top 10). Since we have a lot of popular older stories, too, I take out anything not published in that timeframe. That gives me a solid list of what stories readers clicked on and just how much they clicked on them.

That, my friend, is what you’re about to read. It’s a wide-ranging list, which includes everything from dinosaur science to chlorine use, from startup advice to charity drilling. Counting down from 10, here are our top stories of 2016.

10. Geotechnical Drilling Startup Shares Tips for Success

Readers apparently share my fascination with stories about how to make a go of it in business, like this interview with Michael Cox of PalmettoINSITU. He and I spoke for a while, and he had a lot of good ideas for folks just starting out with a rig and a dream. One of his best tips? “Don’t accept ‘no’ as an answer to anything.”

9. You Know the Drill: Business Booming for Texas Foundations Driller

The You Know the Drill feature we started a few years ago is consistently popular and this story is the first entry in this year’s top 10. (Last year, one You Know the Drill interview made it into the top 10 at No. 2.) This interview, with a third-generation driller in Texas, helped us reach our best month ever for page views.

8. Drilling for Answers to Dinosaur Demise

As I wrote last year, I love the science-y stories. This one spotlights an interesting coring project that ventures off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to gather data on the Chicxulub crater. It’s thought to be the remnants of the meteor impact that scientists believe led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

7. How to Effectively Treat Water Wells with Chlorine

Science stories can be fun to read, but don’t always have much bearing on day-to-day life. Stories like this practical one, where we interview Matt Ryan, a chemist with Cotey Chemical Corp., can actually make a difference in how drillers do their jobs (in this case, water well drillers).

6. Denver Water Investigates Aquifer Storage, Recovery

The 21st century is and will be the century of water. Conservation and clever re-use will be key to sustainability, particularly is areas in the western U.S. This project in Colorado looks at the feasibility of aquifer storage and recovery, and how it can be used to bank water during flush times for use during not-so-flush times.

5. How to Maintain a Drilling Rig to Minimize Downtime, Repairs

Cascade Drilling and Technical Services operates a fleet of environmental, geotechnical, mining and other types of rigs from almost three dozen offices across the country. It was only natural for us to talk to Gary Crueger, their vice president of safety and administration, when we had questions about minimizing downtime. He offered a lot of good ideas. We are also partnering with Cascade on the National Driller Workshop, which is part of the RemTEC Summit event March 7-9, 2017, in Denver.

4. How One Drilling Rig Maker Cut the Design, Manufacturing Cycle

The drilling trades and the manufacturers that serve them have their share of characters. Some are serious and some are quirky. Some, you just want to have a beer with. Michael Dynan, vice president for portfolio and strategic development at Schramm, fits into that last category. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him for this interview at MinExpo 2016, and want to thank him for the pizza.

3. You Know the Drill: Rising in Rank in HDD

This is the second You Know the Drill feature in the 2016 top 10. Strangely, both interviews spotlight Texas drillers. Cory Baker is a division manager with Hard Rock Directional Drilling. His advice? “It just takes time. That’s what I try to tell any of the young guys that start now because so many of them come in thinking in six months they can have my job. They have to learn to put the time in.”

2. Shelter for Sex Trafficking Victims in Need of New Water Well

One of the truisms of website traffic is that anything with “sex” in the headline gets attention. There’s just something in our monkey-brain that drives the clicks. But, that’s not to downplay the seriousness of this story, and the altruism the drilling community showed after the story ran. We heard from the charity involved just a month after this story ran, and readers had stepped forward with donations of materials and services to make sure this shelter for sex-trafficking victims got a working water supply.

1. Michigan Drilling Company Going Strong for Six Generations

This year, it wasn’t even close. Our story on Denton & Sons Well Drilling, which has been in business for six generations (since 1860), got a lot of attention. This story got almost two-and-a-half times the page views of the No. 2 story on this list, and helped us our reach our second best month ever for page views. May we all be so successful in our businesses that our great-great-grandchildren share in our good fortune.

That’s it, 2016’s most read stories on www.nationaldriller.com. If there’s anything you missed or want to reread, dig in. Don’t be afraid to share, whether emailing links for posting to social media. We look forward to serving readers with more news and views from the drilling industry in 2017 and beyond.

Stay safe out there, drillers.