The people have spoken.

Between the two rounds of our Best of the Triangle contest, we logged more than six hundred thousand votes from more than twenty thousand voters in more than three hundred categories, far more votes than in any previous contest. In the end, our hive mind produced a definitive compendium of cool stuff to do, cool places to eat and drink, cool services to check out, and less-cool politicians to throw something at.

You’ll notice that we did things a bit differently this year. First, we’ve augmented our traditional readers poll with more than eighty writers’ picks—our favorite odds and ends, quirks and hidden gems, things that inspired and outraged us over the last year. Second, we restructured our balloting process into two phases: the nominations phase, in which readers submitted their favorites in each category; and the finalists phase, in which readers chose from among the top four vote-getters in the first round.

The idea behind this change was to better engage with our audience. This new process produced winners who reflect the choices of a larger percentage of our readers than ever before. And it worked: in both breadth and depth, this is the best Best of the Triangle ever. At least, we think so. —Jeffrey C. Billman