371 reasons why blog lists are dumb
Ask any human being on the planet: lists are fantastic. People love making them, they love crossing things off of them, and they love writing them. Lists are also a common link-bait tactic for bloggers. But they’ve gotten completely out of control, to the point where they’re utterly useless.
I can’t believe I have to actually write this, but lists are meant to summarize and/or highlight. However when your summarizing or highlighting is exhaustive, all you’ve done ir regurgitate existing information and added sequential numbers to the beginning of each sentence. That’s not really a list. I don’t even know what to call that.
Among my favourite dumb-lists these days:
- “73 things you might have missed this week, in exhaustive detail!”
- “61 easy steps to blogging success!”
- “107 reasons why you business should be on Twitter!”
- “108 reasons you’re doing Twitter wrong!”
- “371 reasons why list-based blog posts are dumb!”
I could go on and on (also note the exclamation marks: common and mind-numbing).
My point is that what was once a common and incredibly useful way to distill information has become an insufferably bad way to summarize. Because lists are supposed to be short, snappy, and to the point.
Now, if I want to catch up on the “73 things” I missed this week (“!”), I may as well just go back and read all those individual things. Because all you’ve done, blogger with a post quota, is copied and pasted a shit-ton of content from those posts — stripping them of context — and provided me with just little enough information that I need to go back to that thing you’re referring to and read it in its entirety.
So thanks for nothing.
Other things I hate about list-based blog posts:
- They’re typically not unique
- People tend to share them without thinking
- Claims within these lists tend be wild exaggerations, over-simplifications, or poorly distilled details
- They’re single-handedly causing the sharp decline in western intelligence
- They often begin with the claim that, “Hey, people love lists, donchaknow!?”
- Their often-random, arbitrary length — “8 reasons,” “13 ideas,” “216 dance moves” — makes them feel disorganized
- They make me grumpy
- They rarely feel like they’re unified under a cohesive theme, even though they claim to be
- Bad infographics are even worse than bad list-based blog posts
- They also tend to end either poorly or unceremoniously
Image by Paloetic on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
Top three reasons I like this post:
1) Spot on.
2) You’re hilarious.
3) People are lazy jerks.
Now I’m off to see how many list blog posts I’ve done! EEEEEP!
You’re actually guilty of this? YOU MONSTER!
What if I’m Santa Claus and require a list of no less than 7 billion items? What do I do then?
For me though, this was good timing. I had been mulling over an epic-sized list post just two days ago. I think I’ll just forget about it now.
Hey Jeremy – I’d be pretty choked if Santa published his present list to a blog!
Is there a way to break down your blog list idea so it’s a little more simple?
“They’re single-handedly causing the sharp decline in western intelligence”
I think infographics would have something to say about that!