They’re everywhere. Blog posts of lists. My most widely read post was a list of lists. Did anyone really read past the 100th item? Should I try it again to go for a personal best?
List posts both attract and repel me. Want to know why?
Well, I’ve made list.
- False sense of urgency – There is something about a list post that implies that it has a “best when used by” date. That somehow, today’s post of 10 Ways to Repair Broken Doritos Every Couch Potato Must Know makes us forget that the topic has been covered scores of times in the past and will be again in the future.
- Instant authority – I don’t want to imply that there are not some great bloggers who share terrific insights on list posts. But so many list posts are opinion posing as fact. Are the 10 Best Websites to Buy Molly Bolts really the best or first ten the blogger came across during his or her search?
- Lack of continuity – One might think today’s 10 Ways Every Millennial Should Remove Hair Gel from iPhones is related to yesterday’s 10 Ways Every Boomer Should Remove Lip Gloss from Androids, especially if the posts are from the same blogger. List posts, though, tend to float in isolation.
- Redundant content – The pressure is on to round off the list quantity, so the eighth item in 10 Super Duper Tips to Monetize Dryer Lint may read an awful lot like the fourth item.
- Justin Bieber – Maybe this relates only to posts about social media, but nearly every list post I read mentions at least one celebrity with a gazillion followers on Twitter. Makes sense if the post is 10 Teenage Celebrities Who Battle Unibrows, but is a bit of a stretch for 10 Most Shocking Tweets from the Paris Metro.
- Content fails to deliver the headline’s promise – Yeah, you knew that one.
- Rhetorical subjects – The great tabloid tradition infects the blogosphere. Of course I’ll read 10 Things Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Know About Sergey Brin’s Sneakers, but I won’t admit it to anyone.
- Lists can get repetitious – If one of the “secrets” revealed in 10 Secrets About Waxed Floss Revealed sounds really familiar, it might be because you read about the same secret earlier in the post. Bloggers don’t want to post nine items, so they may make the same point multiple times in different ways to get the right total.
- The obvious and the obscure – 10 Post-It Colors Guaranteed to Impress Your Boss may cite the only ten colors manufactured, while 10 Tinned Sardines for a Perfect Valentine’s Day may only have brands sold in Reykjavik.
- They work – As we increasingly self-curate, it appears we seek our news and information in an ever more granular fashion. The attraction of list posts in undeniable.
Stand by for my next post in this series, 10 Reasons My 10-Step Program to Stop Writing 10 Thing List Posts Was a #Fail.