Home > COM530 > 160 Million Reasons Why I Hate Top Ten Lists

160 Million Reasons Why I Hate Top Ten Lists

Top Ten lists drive me crazy.

Who likes them? Come on, you can’t be serious?  Who really, really likes lists? “Everyone loves lists, you just have to do lists,” they say.

I’m sorry. I must be hanging with the wrong people because I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation that begins with “Wow, did you see that Top Ten list the other day?” Wait a minute. I HAVE had that conversation. But, it has always been about the most famous Top Ten list of Late Night Television. Now that is some funny stuff, so I was warming up to this format du jour.

Top ten lists are popular because they’re funny, right? No silly, not at all. Lists are serious business, mister, because they draw BIG traffic to your site! Get with it, will ya?

So, I did my homework and googled “Top Ten Things”. Sure enough, I got 160 million hits! Now, there’s an idea that will get some attention because only 160 million people have thought of this before me. Mmm?

They say that ‘Top Lists’ make for simple headlines that grab attention. If everyone’s doing it how does that make it unique? I say headlines are hard to write; common things do not get noticed.

They say people love lists. I searched “I hate lists” and found 71 million folks that are my people!

They say lists are easy to skim quickly so people can move on to something else. I say Wal-Mart wouldn’t define that as a very good customer. “Hey, come on over to my store, you can find stuff you don’t want to buy and get out of here quicker.”

They say, lists are a great way to generate conversation. I say we’ve already covered this topic. My people only want to talk about Letterman’s Top Ten.

You now have 160 million reasons why I say, “No, PLEASE, not another Top Whatever List.”
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  1. Erik Furlan
    October 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Another excellent argument, Mr. Wagner. Presents a clear counterpoint to the prevailing opinion of lists, in your typical engaging style. Bravo!

  2. andersj
    October 31, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Love the comments, but good luck stopping the Top Ten and Top 20 and on and on because people click on those lists, whether it is to disagree with the choices or get a daily briefing of sorts. Top Tens were not overdone until the infoflood hit thanks to the InterWebz.

    • paulrwagner
      October 31, 2009 at 6:17 pm

      Yes, I actually researched this a bit and found that one can dramatically improve their analytics by doing a ‘Top Whatever’ list. But, it’s an easy format that anyone can do and doesn’t speak to the writer’s brand, or at least, not to this writer. I’ll stick with ‘my people’ and try to always think out of the box.

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