"Top list" articles are everywhere these days, and I for one am tired of them. Spend a few minutes on Digg and Reddit - which are themselves "top lists" of a sort - and you'll come across top-five lists linked to top-ten sites linked to sites showing the top fifty top twenty sites of the year. Where's the real, detailed content? I really don't think I need a bulleted list of "The Best Uses for Earwax", and if I did have a question regarding the recycling of earwax, I would certainly look for answers to someone who showed the ability to write more than a few short blurbs about it!
I'm calling for a moratorium on "Top List" articles - there are too many of the darned things out there already - and I present here the five best reasons not to write them:
#5: Limited Shelf Lifesporty cars of 2012 look silly now that the market has been flooded with cheap, safe jetpacks?
Sure, with some work and some luck your article might score a bunch of hits while it's fresh and relevant, but what happens when the buzz fades away? Does it languish alone and unwanted in some far, forgotten corner of the internet, depressed and neglected?
Why, yes. Yes it does.
Meanwhile, you're probably too busy flirting with younger, more attractive articles to even notice its sad predicament. How do you live with yourself?
#4: It's Mostly Pointless
Five Reasons to Try New FatCO Bottled Liquid Lard (tm)
- Easier to store than a big tub of Crisco.
- Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.
- I get a commission if you buy it through my link.
See? It's just not possible.
#3: Lack of Authority
I don't care if you are a Nobel prize winning particle physicist - if you're going to claim muons are better than gluons, you'd better be able to back it up with more than some shoddy little list of your favorite subatomic particles! What were your rating criteria, anyway? I demand a detailed explanation of the scale you established for your evaluation!
#2: It's all been done
There's an internet meme called Rule 34 which states, roughly, "If you can conceive of it, there is porn of it." If there's a rule 35, it probably states, "If you can conceive of it, there's probably a top ten list about it." If what you're conceiving is pornographic, there's definitely a list of it somewhere.
Don't be a pornographer: avoid top lists!
You thought #1 was going to say, 'See #4', didn't you?
Top Lists, by their very nature, only touch lightly on the subject at hand. Is understanding not important anymore? Doesn't context matter? Can't we do better than the written equivalent of a bunch of sound bytes?
Don't give in to the dark side!
There's a writer here on Infobarrel who will argue that Top Lists are an excellent writing strategy that will magically bring fame and traffic to those master such dark arts. Be strong and don't succumb - off the top of my head I can think of ten reasons why you'll regret it if you do!