Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 Reasons List Posts Annoy Me [Warning: Snarkathon]

10. List posts assume we're gullible. 

As if no one else has read headline tips for getting clicks, list posts are now a big red warning for me that I'm being suckered.

Many of us have read about the allure of using numbers in your headlines. The fact that list posts will automatically build traffic angers me (and others, too). It makes me feel like a boob when I click on one, so I try not to.

Apologies to any of my regular readers who were lured in by this post because you think I'm awesome. I don't think *you* are a boob. But list posts are just too easy, non?

9. List posts are like shopping at Costco.

How about this?

How many reasons do you need for working out more? It's just better for you. You know that. You don't need a list, right? Let me guess...here's the list:
  1. Longer lifespan
  2. Better at work
  3. Better sex life
  4. Better deals on clothing
  5. Fights aging
  6. Defends against unicorn battles
Okay, so guess what? Except for that last one, we already know this stuff. I just schooled you on why exercising is really beneficial...fighting unicorns. You heard it here first. Better get on that treadmill!

Why do we need this?

How many packs of gluten free pasta do you need to have on hand? Probably not 10. Not for the average household. Do you want to fit into your favorite pair of shorts in the summer? Stay away from Costco.

You see, in the midst of looking for answers (like a list of ways to make life better or buying in bulk to save on groceries) you can get caught up in the game of numbers and forget your overall mission.

8. List posts work in spite of their overexposure.

Even before I post this I know it will get more clicks than my usual post. Why? Because list posts work. They are perfect linkbait. People like the illusion of control. People like numbers. But this makes list posts more popular than they should be. Many people (not all) write list posts in order to game the system for more traffic. Some list posts are really stellar and others (too many) just sit cold and moldy on the floor of linkbait hell.

I hate list posts.

7. List posts are overdone.

Blog posts about hating list posts date back to 2008. Four years ago people were sick of seeing list posts. That was before Twitter really hit mainstream.

6. Most of the lists over 3 are just stretching for meaning. 

You could usually cut off a list at 3 and have all you really need. Why are you even still reading this?

Look at the 10 Commandments. Did we really need 10? How about 1 really good one?

Be good to others.

Sure...God may not need an editor, but who said that Moses was the best transcriptionist?

5. Mental blocks with lists: Santa can't ever get it straight which list I'm supposed to be on at Christmas.

I should always be on the "Good List," but I never received the following:

  • 1981: A brother (even though my sister turned out to be awesome)
  • 1985: All of the contents of our local Wal-Mart (I used to imagine how awesome it would be to have all of the toys, electronics, and school supplies in our local Wal-Mart)
  • 1986: A trampoline
  • 1989: An easel and paintbrushes
  • 1990: A magical overnight makeover to make me popular and gorgeous
  • 1992: An underground swimming pool
  • 1994: A new Lexus
  • 1995: Stardom
  • 2005: Wealth
  • 2008: A year-round personal trainer and private chef
  • 2009: A live-in nanny and a personal assistant
  • 2010: 2 live-in nannies, live-in housekeeper, Botox, liposuction, a bigger house with more storage, and a personal assistant

Santa, feel free to make good on any of the previous years and we'll call it even. 'kay?

1. The number on the list usually doesn't reflect value.

...and often the posts aren't even numbered correctly. Like this post. Why did I jump to 1 already? Why not. It doesn't seem to bother other bloggers with list posts. I've clicked on posts with a number in the headline and the body didn't reflect the list making me feel like a boob.

What are your thoughts? List posts can be awesome, right? Tell me why. Or better yet, give me examples of good ones. Please bring enough to share with the class.

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