7 reasons I hate list articles


List articles – or ‘listicles‘ as they are sometimes known – seem to have taken over the internet entirely. They’ve always been a big thing, having morphed over from the world of magazines. But I’m done with  them. Here’s why – presented, of course, as a handy list:

1. The glibness

List articles always seem to be written in a  hurry, with little or no real content. Shallow, top of the head thinking hurled onto pixels with barely a second thought.

2. The clickbaityness (that is *so* a real word)

People write list articles because they know folks click through to them from social media links etc. That’s the reason. No other. Sure, it means they’re popular. But so is Justin Bieber and American Idol and Strictly Come Dancing. So there’s that.

3. The hectoring

It’s the bloggers curse – the irresistible urge to  adopt the ‘authority’ tone of voice, the ‘I know best, listen to me’  attitude – as if they are addressing a wayward child who really needs to listen up and take notice now because they’re doing everything wrong. They set themselves up as the teacher dispensing wisdom to all and sundry. Most don’t have the credentials, or the experience, or anything much to show why they think their opinion is so all important. Which is probably why they do it.

4. The self-righteous, sanctimonious smugness

For more details, see item 3.

5. The irrelevance

Seems like the writer always picks a number first, never quite thinks up enough items, so has to add one that’s just filler. Does that happen a lot? It seems to.

6. The Biblical thing

There were  ten commandments. Why not eleven, or seven, or 97? Not sure if anyone knows, except the person who wrote them, and She’s not telling. But the idea caught on and to this day list article writers sure do seem to want to lay down the law and put you straight about a few things.

7. The repetition and redundancy

I don’t think I need to explain this, do I?

2 comments… add one
  • Love your ‘sensayuma’ (say out loud).

    ‘7 Ways to Freshen Your Fiction’ type articles are supposed to give you traction with the search engines; that’s how they got started.

    I don’t do too many (though I have sinned occasionally) because I find it hard to appear an expert, even on my own writing process on my own blog – I have one of those questioning minds that is always able to see the other side of any argument, even though I have cast-in-concrete opinions of my own.

    I now add a caution to many of my own posts: I’m not telling you what to do, just posting my own thinkings for your possible entertainment. YMMV

    Couldn’t agree more with #5 – the numbers seem so very irrelevant, but you rarely see posts that tout SIX ways of doing something, or NINETEEN.

    • Simon Link Reply

      I think the style originated with lifestyle magazines, where it’s still going strong.

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