It seems that half the stories and blog posts on the ‘net are now list articles. Here are seven reasons I hate them.
1) Its Lazy Writing – Good articles make a point or three, backing up opinions and ideas with compelling writing. This requires time and craft. List articles, by contrast, are stupidly simple to write, and many of them are tossed together by stupidly simple writers.
Even the titles are artless. Why waste precious minutes creating a compelling title, when you can just pound out something as simple as “7 Reasons I Hate List Articles?”
2) They Create Fake Controversy – Articles listing the n best (or worst) movies or books or albums is a cheap way to generate fake controversy and generate the buzz of meaningless arguments. It insures people will post it to Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest along with their complaints. “I can’t believe they left out Wreckless Eric and included The Fabulous Poodles.” Which, in turn, generates traffic and comments.
3) Padding – It’s easy to inflate the number with worthless items, like this one.
4) None of Them Are As Good As Cracked – When I was a kid, Cracked was the magazine you bought when you couldn’t wait for the next issue of Mad. It was Mad Lite – not quite as good, but passable.
But it’s grown up to be one of the funniest web sites on the net, as well as an excellent skeptic site. You laugh while you learn stuff, a potent and powerful combination. Nearly all of their articles are in a list format. They are the king of list articles – all the others are cheap imitations. Why waste your time with cheap imitations?
5) Slide Shows – Few things are as annoying, and completely unnecessary, as slide shows, and many list articles use them. If you have ten photos (or ten ideas), spread them across two pages instead of forcing readers to click and click and click and click and click and click and click and click and click and click to see them. I’ve seen slide shows featuring a hundred “best albums” or “best books.” It’s a cheap trick to inflate the number of clicks you receive at the expense of the reader’s time and patience. Rather than click through slide shows, I just click the little x on the tab and they magically disappear.
6) I Find Them Oddly Compelling – I often feel compelled to click such articles, and I hate that I’m so easily manipulated. I see “46 Ways To Make a Woman Orgasm” and think, “Gee, what are the three I don’t know about?”
7) They’re Trite – They’re so common and over done my reaction (unless #6 takes over) is to roll my eyes and move on. I’m sick of them, and hope enough readers are getting tired of them that they’ll stop drawing traffic and writers will abandon them.
If you’re tempted to write a list article – don’t. If you’re tempted to click on a link to one – don’t. And if you’re tempted to post a link to one – don’t do that either. Unless it’s a link to this one. Send this to your friends, and make it the last list article you ever link to.