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Five Reasons I Moderately Dislike List Blogs

Posted on May 26, 2010 by Sean

I read a lot of blogs. Ashamedly, I’ve fairly recently been introduced to a fantastic piece of technology from Google (only a few years late, right?) so now it’s easier for me than ever to read my favorite blogs in one sweet location.  In my ocular travels, I’m starting to notice a few things about list blogs.

Five Reasons I Moderately Dislike List Blogs

  1. They’re everywhere. With something like Google reader, all of my favorite blogs are aggregated into a neatly formatted page allowing me to consume or navigate away from the latest offerings from my favorite writers. This is great for convenience, but because it allows for almost side-by-side comparisons of different authors, the homogeny is often obvious.

  2. They promote the “lowest common denominator” - I suppose if you want your blog to read like journalism or quick info-fare, a list blog might be fine. What happens when we read list blogs (or anything with a list) is that readers are visually drawn to the list, leaving the requisite intro paragraph largely unread. For me at least, it seems that while they might generate readers, they do very little to convert readers. That is, draw them into your story, compel us to learn or feel, or support. These are the kind of viewers/readers/customers that companies pay billions for.

  3. Life isn’t a list. There are many days (all of them) I hope for neatly packaged instructions for life. Sadly, each of those days, I come to find that there isn’t actually “five keys to financial success!” or “fourteen keys to happiness.” I suppose financial success comes through hard work and discipline (two steps by last count) and there are probably far more than fourteen ways to become happier. But, we’re served convenient lists of ways to change our life, I suspect because…

  4. They’re easy. It’s easier to write in list format but it feels a little like suffocating the real writer. My favorite writers are ones who take sudden lefts when the reader wants to go straight. They hike the longer trail for the beauty of it. Or, simply, they give you two paragraphs of wisdom and move on. List blogs assume a dedicated format (listing, generally chronologically) and there’s little room for creativity – though it’s taxing, it’s necessary for real art. Conversely, sometimes it feels like writers really have two points to make, but because a two-point list is strange, they unnecessarily drag it out into five-points, sometimes essentially restating an original tip. See next point for proof of this phenomenon.

  5. They’re everywhere. They’re here, and here, and here. Writers covet readers, but readers covet newness and fresh ideas. Why don’t we treat readers with the respect they deserve? A person or company who asks us to read what they’ve written is an imposition on their time (read this, instead of that.) And it’s one of the most honoring and humbling and special feelings I can think of. We’re given so many minutes each day, to have someone to spend several of them learning with you is actually kind of profound.

I confess, originally the title was “Reasons I hate list blogs” but through writing a list blog, I kind of realized that I don’t hate them, I just hate what they sometimes represent. Sometimes, they’re absolutely necessary. They draw our focus to the point, and when constructed simply, it simply works.

It looks like another element consistent throughout this week’s blog aggregation is ending your blog with a question. So, as I’ve ironically (perhaps bitterly) written a list blog decrying list blogs, I will end with a deep and poignant question germane to the formula, typically used to inspire comments and conversation. Also, a generic stock-photo related to your blog topic doesn’t hurt (see above.)

What kind of blog do you prefer to read? Do list blogs hold your attention?


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