PIWTPITT's Top 10 Reasons People are Compelled to Read Top 10 Lists


I read a lot of websites and I'm very competitive.  I want to know what everyone is reading if they're not reading me.  I started looking at what these bloggers were writing that was bringing in so much traffic. Was it their witty prose?  Was it their heart-warming stories of motherhood?  Was it their parenting insights?  Nope.  Not even close.  It's lists.     

The Top 10 _____, Best 8_______, Got to Have 6______, Most Amazing 29______.  These lists are out there on every site.  I know I have lists too, but my lists are not in slideshow format, thus driving up pageviews with each click.  Sneaky, right?  All these websites that are driven by the almighty pageview have started turning every fucking thing they can into a slideshow list.  I get my ass handed to me daily, because I refuse to bow to the pressure to make a 1,000 picture slideshow of the 1,000 Best Indoor Mall Playgrounds in North America. 


I won't name actual lists I've found for fear of legal repercussions.  Instead, I'll give you some examples  that are as bad as the real ones:

Top 26 Vacation Destinations for People Over the Age of 65 (Yes, Branson, MO is number one)

Top 6 Names for Goldfish (spoiler alert - "Goldie" didn't even make the list)
Top 17 Reasons You Should Bike to Work Today (Number 18 got axed, but it was You have a fat ass)
8 Best Diaper Bags for Single Moms (Disclaimer: This is my own list because I'm designing a whole line of SMILF diaper bags that will hit stores in 2013 if my Kickstarter campaign comes through.)

What the hell? Why do so many people like reading lists? To me, lists are the lowest common denominator of reading. If you need the bulk of your reading material in a list form there is something wrong with you.

Sure, I think there is always room for a good, funny list and that's why I came up with this one (in a non-slideshow format, because I won't pull that shit on you):

Top 10 Reasons Why People are Compelled to Read Top 10 Lists:


1. It makes them feel like they actually "read" something today.

2. Reading a list of 10 items sounds a lot easier than reading a whole article.

3. Half the time they're reading on their phone while they're waiting for something and they're bored and they need to kill time so Top 10 it is, because Facebook is down.

4. It gives them something to talk about at the next dinner party they go to. "I just read a great list of the Top 10 Ways to Know if You're a Douchey Dad.  Apparently we're surrounded by them!"

5. Dumb ideas sound a lot smarter in a list form.

6. They're usually accompanied by lots of pictures to divert readers from the lack of substance. (Sorry, this one doesn't have a slideshow or substance.)

7. It's easy for them to know there's not much left to read when they get to number 7. (Almost done!)

8. They think they'll learn something.

9. Then they realize they already knew everything on the list or the list does not live up to the title (much like this list) and they think they'll stop reading, but they're already at 9 and they need to know what the last one is.

10. Lists are fun reads and are cute. Who doesn't want to know the Top 10 Cute But Deadly Animals? I know I do!! (Hint: Who knew Siberian Chipmunks were so deadly?)


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Comments

Anonymous said…
Love it!
Maggie
melissa said…
That explains the slide shows! I freaking hate those things, because if I am reading a list, I usually want to do it quickly (otherwise I would read the whole article) and they take so long to load (yes 1 second is tooling when I want to read something)
Very funny. Although top ten I am guilty of reading and writing these. They are a secret guilty pleasure
Shawna said…
This just made it into my Top 10 Reasons Not to Read Top 10 Lists list. It replaces the (a little too broad) number 7: because they're stupid.
I find myself wondering how much David Letterman (who had top ten lists truly worth the time) popularized this notion of top ten lists? If so...how far they have wandered from their original, beautiful form!
I rarely read top tens, usually it's just plug ins to buy shit that you accidentally click on and spend an hour on the phone with the bank to make sure that 2 thousand dollar stroller doesn't get posted to your account...
Anonymous said…
I had a boss that loved to send out top 10 lists. They were actually pretty funny (for an accountant). The best one had to be "Top 10 Reasons Why Squirrels are the Spawn of the Devil".
Jennifer Giroux said…
It's also a "tip" that is given to new bloggers to get traffic to their website. I will take my 13 followers who actually read my well, written posts!

www.afineconundrum.blogspot.com
neal said…
11. Sometimes the best way to learn numbers real good is to see them listed over and over again in list form in front of a bunch of letters, which I've heard can also be learned good through repetition. But, letters are for the big kids; right now I'm focusing on the numbers.

Deanna said…
I was wondering about those posts. So annoying. And worse yet is when I read one, and I realize that they've said absolutely NOTHING even after I've clicked through every.single.picture. Waste of time. I'll take one of your punches any day! Babble- we're on to you now!
I stopped after #3.
Trisha said…
Oh my God, as I was sitting in my teacher's inservice, playing on my phone bc I am bored as all hell and my instructor is passive agressive, which makes me enjoy pissing him off by not paying attention...I read number 3, snorted my water out of my nose, onto the desk, and the entire class stopped. If I wasn't busy ccrawling in a hole to die, I would have suggested making a top ten list for the instructor. "Top ten reasons why teaching teachers is worse than teaching kids." Thanks for the laugh!!
I made a top ten list just for you!!! I posted it on my blog, I said in honor of your top ten list, if you don't like it I will gladly take it down
Sassy STS said…
I like top ten lists when they're meant to be funny ala David Letterman. But definitely not when they include a slide show. That's just bs.

[email protected]
http://firstofalleveryoneisstupid.blogspot.com/2012/07/top-10-reasons-wiener-might-be-gay.html
Anonymous said…
Oh no! I’m REALLY the lowest common denominator... I read top tens so I can just skip to #1 and get right to the point. Terrible!
Jenn said…
I'm totally number four. I've always been incredibly annoyed by slideshows, especially when I'm on my phone- clicking is difficult and loading the next page takes FOREVER. A certain magazine for Parents (ahem) does that ALL THE TIME. Thanks for explaining why!
When I Blink said…
My eye is drawn to numbered lists - maybe because I feel like the number helps me know what I'm getting into. If there are 6 things on the list, it'll be a relatively quick read. If there are 60 things on the list, I'm not reading it.

And I write them (guilty as charged: http://imissyouwheniblink.com/2012/08/21/truth-in-advertising-10-lessons-of-fall/ and http://imissyouwheniblink.com/2012/08/03/how-to-be-a-hostess-with-the-mostestessest/) -- because it's a way of organizing my thoughts so I don't ramble on forever.
Tori said…
I hate slide shows! Thank you for not doing them!!!
Nepsi said…
Who knew the duck billed platypus was such a bad ass?
Sarah S. said…
I think your non-shitty non-slideshow list rocks and will be using it at my next dinner party. Perhaps I'll even write one reason on each place card for conversation starters! JK, I'm totally not an OAM and I don't do place cards. Or dinner parties. But I DO love your lists!

colleen said…
Beautiful! Thank you for making me feel better about being a food blogger who hasn't made a Top 27 Nutella Recipes list!
Kelly Steele said…
I feel like an idiot for not realizing why all of the damn slideshows! Every time I see a slideshow, I'm like well... I know I'm too ADHD to wait for the page to load ten times so I probably won't even bother reading this shit... usually by the time I process the above statement in my head I have forgotten what I was there for anyway, so the stupid slide shows aren't getting any page views on me!
I'll admit it, I love a good list. But that's the point, it has to be a GOOD list!
Anonymous said…
Oh hell yes! Who is it, msn or bing, that put up lists but don't give the answer unless you click an additional link. So annoying!
kaptnkarl said…
I like reading the top ten list like "Ten Best Movies, bands, TV shows, etc" to see how many of them I hate, and "The Top Ten Worst movies, bands, tv shows etc." to see how many of them I love.
Lizbeth said…
The platypus, really? The makers of Phineas and Ferb have some explaining to do....
~Lisa said…
This cracks me up!! I started blogging not too long ago and I had writers block. I asked on FB what I should write about... I got make a top 10 list as the answers. :)
Anonymous said…
Yes, yes they do :-)
Anonymous said…
I clicked the comments just so I could say thank you for calling out the slideshows. So annoying. I'm looking at you HuffPost!
Meredith said…
As a new and fledgling blogger (frommeredithtomommy.com) I have been stalking Babble and HuffPost as well as others. I saw a lot of lists, and I get why those are appealing, but it honestly didn't even OCCUR to me that they would use an obnoxious slideshow format just for extra clicks! Boo!
Kimmy Davis said…
I've noticed in the last year that these types of lists have instead become "My 10 favorite Pinterest pins I've not shared or copied yet." I love Pinterest, I follow a wide range of pinners, and I've already got my own favorites pinned. So I also am annoyed by these blog posts (and if I'm in a bad mood, I "unfollow" their blogs completely.)
Anonymous said…
I hate the number of videos I get linked to when I want to READ an article. Such a waste of time. Why would I want to spend 4 minutes watching a video when I can get the info I want by reading it in 2?
Kimberly Warren said…
YES! I've done one or two, myself... but only because I had writer's block and a list is pretty easy to churn out ;) Great post!!!
Mexmom said…
Guilty as charged because I am always compelled to read top 10 lists
Jennifer - I often look to see who is reading what I read, and then go to their blogs... if you're going to post your blog, you should have it open... it says for those invited only.
Human brains are hardwired to list and rate things. It's the same mechanism by which we tend to see the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. It's science! Full disclosure: I'm not a scientist.
Anonymous said…
Another here who never really considered the purpose of slideshows {but did find them annoying}. The worst i've seen are a particular site about homes that have ads hidden in the slideshow & it always stuffs up & skips over half the pictures anyway. I knew they obviously want to draw audiences to the ads but page views hadn't occurred to me. Now I feel played...
Deep Web said…
Years before I started the online boutique I blogged...not about fashion, of course. It was one of the best times of my life. My readers, fellow bloggers, killer content... so much fun! I'd love to get into it again with fashion being my niche this time around. Thanks for the list!
Regards
Deep Web

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