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Why Top 10 posts make my head explode

February 6, 2011 | Rant, Travel | 97 Comments
Blackboard list

I’m about to do something that I very rarely do, and go off on a rant on this blog.  Apologies in advance.

I read a lot of travel sites.  It kind of goes with the territory of being a wanderer myself – I love keeping up with what’s going on in the world of travel, whether it be small time bloggers like myself, the huge commercial sites or anything in between.  There’s so much interesting, informative and inspiring information out there that making time to read fifty or more articles a day never feels like a chore.

Never, that is, except when I happen to come across yet another damn top 10 post.

Every time I unfortunately stumble onto one of these my blood pressure raises a little and I set new land speed records hitting the little X on my browser window.  I’ve complained about them on a few occasions before now, but never sat down and analysed exactly why it is that they annoy me so much.  Upon reflection I realised that there’s a number of variants in this genre and even though they’re often inter-related, they all make my head explode for slightly different reasons.

For example:

Top 10 Blindingly Obvious Observations That I Came Up With Because I Can’t Be Bothered Writing A Real Post Today

Ooh baby, there’s a lot of these out there.  They are usually pretty easy to spot – typically they will cover a topic that has been written about thousands of times before and add absolutely nothing in the way of new information or insightful commentary.  Examples include lists of ways to buy cheap flights, reasons to have travel insurance, attractions in a major Western capital or pretty much anything to do with putting stuff in your backpack.

We get it, you know?  You were tired, hungover and completely unmotivated to write a post today but it had already been too long since your last one and you felt that you had to get something out the door.  Sadly it shows.  There’s only so many articles I can read extolling the virtues of flight aggregation sites or  (shudder) Madame Tussards before steam starts drifting out of my ears.

Top 10 Photos That I Found On Flickr And Stuck In A Post In The Hope Of Getting Retweeted By Lonely Planet

Any blogger who has been around for a while knows the value of having an article mentioned on Twitter by the folks at Lonely Planet.  With their 250,000+ followers you’re guaranteed a nice little spike in traffic and the benefit of introducing a whole bunch of new people to your site.  Awesome.  For whatever reason the people behind the keyboard at the venerable guidebook company seem to have a particular love for both photographs and list posts in the stuff they choose to publicise.

This hasn’t escaped the notice of the blogging fraternity, with a veritable avalanche of posts that seek to combine the two.  Top 10 Beaches or Sunsets or Churches or something.  Hell, I’m sure Top 10 Funny Shaped Pieces of Toast Around The World will do.  If you don’t have enough (or any) material of your own to fill out the top 10, though, never fear.  Flickr to the rescue!  Why waste a few hours coming up with quality material of your own when a two minute search through a photo sharing site will suffice?

palawan-desert-island[6]

Top 10 Places That I’ve Never Been To And Will Probably Never Go To But Somehow Feel The Need To Post About Anyway

Now this one I don’t understand.  I just can’t figure out why anyone would want to copy and paste a bunch of text from a marketing brochure, find a few stock images and ‘write’ about places they’ve never been to.  What’s the point?  Where’s the value?  Of all the cynical top 10 post stereotypes out there, for me this is probably the worst.  If I never see another one it really will be far too soon.

 

Top 10 Amazing Things That Really Aren’t All That Amazing And Probably Aren’t Even In The Top 1000 But Hey, What’s Wrong With A Little Hyperbole Among Friends?

The other end of the spectrum from writing about places you’ve never been or things you’ve never done, this version of the top 10 seeks to turn the mundane into the sublime.  If you’ve travelled to ten different places or done ten different versions of something, well, obviously they must be the ten absolute best examples of that genre that there ever could be!

The Top 10 Roadtrips On The Planet, for instance, including my commute to work, the drive I did last year to a caravan park 50 miles away on the edge of a toxic waste dump and that one time I got lost while trying to find my mate’s house.

The 10 Best Places In The World To Party, featuring that dodgy nightclub in town where everyone goes to hook up after 2am, my living room when we crank out Singstar after a couple of bottles of cheap champagne, and anywhere in Ibiza.

I think you get the drift.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all, but come on…

Top 10 Completely Unsubstantiated Statements About Somewhere I Went For A Weekend Once

Research is boring, right?  Fact checking is passé.  Instead, let’s just make up a bunch of stuff and extrapolate wildly from a few unrepresentative experiences that we once had!  It makes for far more interesting stories, after all.  This archetype is probably best illustrated by an example, much and all as it pains me to write it:

The Top 10 Things To Know About Your Favourite City

- Pack your waterproof underwear – it never stops raining! (ie, it drizzled a bit while I was there)

- Eating and drinking is really expensive! (ie, the half dozen tourist restaurants close to my hotel were over-priced and I didn’t feel like venturing any further afield)

- It’s really hard to get around! (ie, I couldn’t figure out how to read the public transport map and don’t like to walk)

- There’s an incredible arts scene! (ie, I wandered through a crappy second hand market one day and there were a couple of guys busking outside my hostel)

And all the rest.

I’ve got no problem with subjectivity – let’s face it, unless you’ve lived in a city for decades or stayed in every boutique hotel in Europe, your list won’t be based entirely on objective research.  But please, when that’s the case, just say so.  Don’t make out that spending 48 hours somewhere and quoting a couple of Wikipedia articles has turned you into some kind of expert on the subject.  It hasn’t.

Top 10 Travel Bloggers Who Are Far More Popular Than I Am And Will Hopefully Give Me A Bunch Of Free Publicity If I Mention Them In A Post

Right up there with a Lonely Planet retweet on the “Bloggers Guide To Getting More Traffic” is a roundup post listing ten of the most popular travel blogs that you can find.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving credit where it’s due, but I get the distinct impression that many of the authors don’t actually even read the blogs they link to never mind have any reason to mention them except for the hope of getting free publicity.

Seriously people, if you’re going to write a post called The 10 Most Influential Travel Bloggers in 2011 or The Top 10 Travel Blogs Of All Time, can you at least tell us why you think that?  If all you’re going to do is grab a photo from their bio and paraphrase their ‘About’ page, I can’t help but think that the only thing you like about the blogger in question is the number of Twitter followers they have…

Ok, rant over.  Thanks for reading.  Do you share my ‘love’ of Top 10 posts, or do you find them valuable?  Interested to hear your thoughts…

[Blackboard image courtesy of ilco]
The Friday Photo #42 – Traffic jam in Vietnam
The Friday Photo #43 – Big pussy cats
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97 Comments

  1. Reply

    Theodora

    February 7, 2011

    Thanks for a hugely entertaining rant. I'm guilty of doing list posts. But I do tend to research them, or have some form of conventional expertise behind what I write about...

    But, yes, I do prefer rant posts, personal posts, or good ole fashioned travel writing to list posts. I think rants get you readers. Lists get you tweeters and the odd stumble...

  2. Reply

    regine

    February 7, 2011

    Thanx! long overdue post. I actually thought it was only me. Turns me off a travel- site completely, except the forums

  3. Reply

    Sunee

    February 7, 2011

    I'm not a fan of list posts either and tend to skip them completely, unless they're about something that obviously interests me or seem to be entertaining enough to warrant reading.

    • Reply

      Sunee

      February 8, 2011

      Of course, technically this rant is sort of a top 10 list in its own, but see my comment about it being entertaining :)

  4. Reply

    Katja

    February 7, 2011

    Definitely with you on this one, Dave. I'm as guilty as anyone of cranking out a post for the sake of it when I haven't written for a while (see my last one, for instance ;) ), but I'm proud to say that I haven't yet sunk to the depths of the top 10 list.

    Does it make me hypocritical that I was over the moon to appear on a top 20 list on Matador a while back, though? Yeah, probably. Oops.

  5. Reply

    Shane

    February 8, 2011

    There's only six reasons here. Surely you could have found another four? Oh, hang on... my bad.

  6. Reply

    Liz

    February 8, 2011

    I have posted a few of my own 'places to see,' but I try to make the caveat that a) these are things I like and b) I try to keep them as off the beaten path as possible.

    Top 10 lists drive me crazy! Why do we have to hit the places that some other person thinks is amazing? The world won't suddenly twirl off its axis if we don't have a picture of us standing in front of the biggest tourist attraction in X city somewhere. I think a list could be an ok place to start, but ask the locals, do some research, wander, that's were there great things to see are!

  7. Reply

    Lol, this is a funny rant. The Top 10 Places I've Never Been To is the weirdest one of all. I don't get that one as well.

    I don't mind top 10 lists so much as long as it's not the only type of posts that someone writes.

    You should've titled this one 'Top 10 Reasons Why Top 10 posts make my head explode' :)

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Would you be even slightly surprised to hear that until about 2 minutes before this post went live the title was 'Top 6 Reasons Why Top 10 posts make my head explode' ??

      Nah, thought not. :)

  8. Reply

    Jaime

    February 8, 2011

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! I hate top 10 list my self & the reasons you listed above are most of the reasons why I don't like them either. ESPECIALLY the last one about blogger round ups like that.

    • Reply

      The Dropout

      February 8, 2011

      I'm with Jaime. And you. I think many tired hungover bloggers should remember the famous saying ... if you don't have anything to say, SHUT UP.

      • Reply

        Dave

        February 8, 2011

        And if that saying isn't famous yet, it damn well ought to be!

  9. Reply

    Michael Hodson

    February 8, 2011

    I feel ya here -- and am doing a similar post soon. Top 10 lists are soooooo damn annoying. Have never done one. Will never do one.

  10. Reply

    Ayngelina

    February 8, 2011

    OMG I LOVE this post. Agree with each and every point you've got here.

    In fact I'm surprised Michael didn't write more because he is the king hater of these posts.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      I half expected a 1000 word reply from him even as I was writing it... ;-)

  11. Reply

    Suzy

    February 8, 2011

    The last "Top 10" example you bring up drives me nuts. It's always the same top 10 people, never anyone i haven't heard of before.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Yeah exactly, just to make an already bad post even worse...

    • Reply

      Laura

      February 10, 2011

      Ditto

  12. Reply

    Kenan Lucas

    February 8, 2011

    I COMPLETELY AGREE.

    With respect to your first point, I tend to refer to this as passing off common sense as though they are imparting some ultimate wisdom. Example: HOW TO SAVE MONEY FOR A BIG TRIP - 1. Spend less money. 2. Put money in savings account...

    Nice post. It is refreshing to see someone original.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Couldn't agree more mate, and that's a great way to describe it - passing off common sense as ultimate wisdom. Drives me mental!

      Thanks for the kind words too :)

  13. Reply

    1Dad1Kid

    February 8, 2011

    Excellent! So glad you did this. Been bugging me lately as well but couldn't put it as eloquently as you did. Couldn't agree more.

  14. Reply

    Dalene

    February 8, 2011

    This is in my top ten fave posts of the week list. I'm about to go write a blog about it....

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Now that's a fantastic idea! Why the hell didn't I think of it???

      :-P

  15. Reply

    Cam

    February 8, 2011

    I totally feel where you're coming from, especially when it becomes habitual and the only form of content on the blog. Although I do think every blogger out there is guilty of a Top XX post at some point, at least in some context. Whether its a "dozen best places here..." or "5 reasons to go there..." or "10 Questions for so and so...", we've all put together posts that provide a summary or overview. I don't mind the occasional list once in a while. That said, I do agree that the approach is often misguided. We've done lists before but always make sure the content is based on our own experiences.

  16. Reply

    Connie

    February 8, 2011

    Great post! Top 10 posts do get irksome after awhile and they always make me wonder "top 10 out of what?" Here's another type of post that really gets on my nerves: the I-partied-so-hard-at-this-place-it's-amazing-you-should-totally-visit. There's so much more to travel than just the cheap beers and I feel posts like this does such a disservice to the experience of travel as a whole. It's great to let loose when you're on holiday, but I find posts about the actual destinations and cultural experience far more interesting that photos of people taking shots and dancing with lady boys.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Yeah I tend to agree to be honest, Connie, and that's why even when I do party like there's no tomorrow somewhere, I don't feel the need to post 1000 words and a dozen photos on the subject. You can do that shit anywhere - there's nothing special about the fact that you're doing it somewhere other than your local bar.

      Shots and lady boys, indeed...

  17. Reply

    Dave

    February 8, 2011

    Thanks everyone for your comments - awesome, and great to see that I'm not the only one who gets driven nuts by Top 10 posts.

    Just wanted to clarify that I'm not having a crack at all list posts - putting a bunch of related things into a list is a natural way to present them, after all, and given that I've written a few of them myself it'd be more than a touch hypocritical as well.

    I think it's the 'Top' part that irks me the most - it's almost always entirely subjective and most often utterly wrong to boot. This rant ain't gonna change things much, unfortunately, but at least I can promise you this: You'll never, ever see a Top 10 *anything* post on this blog. :-D

  18. Reply

    Greg Rodgers

    February 8, 2011

    Amen! Sad thing is these ridiculous, laughable, watered-down posts blossom and generate loads of traffic because people RT the hell out of them without even reading first...gag!

    For some reason people have come to blindly associate the number of Twitter and Facebook followers a blogger has as some indication of actual writing talent.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      Hear hear, my friend. Hear hear.

  19. Reply

    Nick Laborde

    February 8, 2011

    The top ten reasons I like this post... cheap shot out of the way, lets move on. ;)

    Yeah the word "Top" or "Best" is what burns me.

    Being a purveyor of some list posts, they are a lot of work... if done correctly (add value). I just avoid those buzz words and don't use numbers in the post.

    The reality is that the general internet crowd likes easy to read (or skim) content, myself included. Yeah, most of it's garbage but we'll have to just deal with it.

    I did a spoof of one of those "Spend less then you make" budget lists... mine was a bit on the extreme side though.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 8, 2011

      But the question is, was it more extreme than some of the ridiculous non-spoof versions? ;-)

      And yeah, I'm sure I'm equally guilty of skimming through nice fluffy content on occasion because it's easy. I generally won't write it if I can avoid it though, even if it alienates some potential readers - I have too much respect for the rest of my audience!

  20. Reply

    Jul

    February 8, 2011

    Yes. Nothing leads me to unsubscribe faster than a crappy list post. It shows a blogger isn't interested in putting out quality content.

  21. Reply

    Anthony

    February 9, 2011

    I couldn't agree more with you on list posts - cop out I think! I hate it when you people make a list on something they have no experience on either. "Top 10 beaches of the world". Well, have you been to each of those beaches? No. Then don't post about them if you don't know they are the top beach in the world! Love this post! Thanks for getting this out there!

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Exactly! "I read on a travel site somewhere that this beach was awesome and it looks kinda nice in the photo so it MUST be one of the Top 10 in the world, right?". Arrgh!! ;-)

  22. Reply

    yes, Yes, YES!

    What took you so long to write this, you've been talking about it for ages. Must have been too many Top XX lists in your Google Reader queue...

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      What took me so long? I was too busy writing Top 10 posts, obviously......

  23. Reply

    Turkey's For Life

    February 9, 2011

    I've had a great laugh all the way through this. So funny. And I'm now feeling secretly relieved we've never done one - or thought of doing one. :) If it ever crosses my mind I know this post will jump up at me and say NO!
    Julia

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Hehehe - if only more people felt the same way! :)

  24. Reply

    Earl

    February 9, 2011

    Classic! Thank you for not only the morning entertainment but for speaking the truth as well. I'm not a fan of such posts either and would much prefer it if a person skips a post than throw up one of these lists on their site. Unfortunately, since most people are obsessed with their numbers and stats, they feel that anything is better than nothing.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Yeah - the sad thing is that they don't seem to realise that they're alienating their core audience by writing that stuff to get short term traffic that bounces onto their site, skim reads the pointless post and bounces off again.

      Great, you've got another visitor in your stats. You certainly haven't got another fan, and you've probably lost a few in the process. Hope it was worth it...

  25. Reply

    manonthelam

    February 9, 2011

    Sadly, like Greg mentions above, they often result in huge numbers for the sites they are on. So as long as Google continues to index the way that it does, it's a Top 10-athon for the forseeable future...

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Sad but true, I guess, for those that value numbers over content. :(

  26. Reply

    kevin winter

    February 9, 2011

    OK- I see your point. I'll never do it again.

    But, really. How did you ever resist the urge to name the post "Top 10 Reasons I Hate Top 10 Lists"?

    Love reading your stuff, rant or not. Thanks for the hard work!

    Kevin
    trabbatical.com

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Thanks Kevin! If I'd had 10 reasons, I suspect that urge would have been way too much to resist!

  27. Reply

    Rebecca

    February 9, 2011

    Tee hee, hilarious post! I'm neither for nor against Top 10s (top 5s, top 6s etc etc) as long as it's something interesting and relevant and it's not being done as a constant replacement for quality posts. I will, however, note that you did recently read my post on Melbourne which, while not titled Top 10, included 10 things about Melbourne! And you sent me a nice tweet :-) So thanks!

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      You're welcome! Like I mentioned somewhere about 20 comments ago, it's the word 'Top' that drives me particularly insane, because in almost every case, it's not the 'top' whatever at all. Or even close to it.

      I've written a few list posts myself - 'a dozen great places in the world to have a beer', for instance, or '50 hints for the first time traveller'. It's not the fact that things are put in a list that irks me so much, it's subjective speculation and downright bollocks that's put across as if it's some kind of definitive wisdom...

  28. Reply

    Joel

    February 9, 2011

    Lists are for groceries, insight and storytelling are for blogs.

    Thank you for an insightful post. You've been damned productive since you got landlocked.

    Now please visit my blog.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Thanks mate! I guess reliable internet and not spending most of my day hungover and/or on a bus has been kinda useful. Who would have thought?

  29. Reply

    Amanda

    February 9, 2011

    I agree with you about the Top 10 lists that are written with absolutely no research or experience. Those annoy me.

    But I'm guilty of doing the occasional list post, so I can't rant too much about them. Though, to be fair, I try to approach most of them in as different a way as possible, to try and make my lists stand out. That, and I only write about things I've actually done in lists. I think that's important!

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      And that's exactly it - when it's your experiences that you're basing it on and you have some basis for the statement you're making, it's legitimate!

  30. Reply

    Scott

    February 9, 2011

    Dude, this was lol hilarious. Without a doubt, this a finalist for making my "Top 10 Funniest Blogs of All-Time" post I am putting up later this week.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 9, 2011

      Awesome! I'll write a reply post called "Top 10 Lists Of Top 10 Posts That I'm So Excited To Be A Part Of That I May Just Pee My Pants".

      And, of course, try to get it retweeted by Lonely Planet.

  31. Reply

    Magda

    February 9, 2011

    I love this post!
    Some of the blogging experts claim that so called 'list posts' are the way to go, because they are easy to follow etc, and I don't mind to see them once in a while. But some bloggers use the 'list posts' constantly and those blogs are just boring!

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      For sure - the occasional list post based on your own experiences and research is absolutely fine ... 'Top 10 Stupid Things I Wrote Just For Some Google Love' is not!

  32. Reply

    Daniel N.

    February 10, 2011

    I disagree. You know more than half of my posts are Top 10 lists which I really enjoy doing. You said that on purpose just to point your fingers at me.
    Top 10 lists are usually well researched and simple way to philosophize about the wonderful world of Travel Blogging.

    Oh and the last one is my favorite one. Especially when I'm included in it.

    I'll write a "Top 10 list why this top 6 list about top 10 lists is not worth it".
    (Thanks mate, I loved it :) ).

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      Hehehehe ... thanks Dan ;-)

  33. Reply

    John

    February 10, 2011

    Fair point a very entertaining read. It has been covered a few times already. TBEX 10 at Copenhagen even put on play where one of the Shakespearean bloggers was relying on Top 10 posts to bring in traffic. They can make easy reading online. Many of the Travel Guide books include Top 10 attractions. There are even some guides solely featuring a destination's Top 10 Attractions. To print a run of guide books there is usually a market. Lonely Planet do guide books don't they? They also have carried out research into what travel consumers want to buy.How many bloggers write posts for their readers, even if it entails presenting factual information in a easily digested format? I suppose many aspire to be like Bill Bryson or Eric Newby, but most don't come anywhere near. Even if they did, it is easier to read that type of travel writing in book / ebook format.
    It is difficult to judge, as only other travel bloggers comment on travel blogs. Travel blogging is its own self serving community. There are comments by about 30 people on this post. As far as I can see there is one without a link to a blog or travel site. It would be great to hear what the ordinary travel consumer thinks. Sadly using blog post comments as a reference criteria, only other travel bloggers read travel blogs. ;o)

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      Oh I'll never deny there's a market for those posts ... same as there's a market for reality TV and ridiculous soap operas. Much like reality TV or ridiculous soap operas, though, I don't feel the need to be a part of it.

      I'd like to think I write for my readers, which in my case means breaking most of the so-called blogging rules. Long posts (always over 1000 words, sometimes double that), a reading level higher than kindergarten, unoptimised for SEO except at the most basic level, etc.

      I know this means I'll have fewer readers - but I'm hoping it means that by treating them with respect the readers I do have become and remain loyal subscribers.

      It seems to have worked so far, but of course there's still a long way to go.

  34. Reply

    Nomadic Matt

    February 10, 2011

    ha! love this post! It's amazing! I agree with you and I especially hate when people take photos from flickr. At least if you write a post, you are writing it. Taking photos from flickr for a top ten post is the ultimate sign of laziness.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      Thanks Matt!

    • Reply

      Dima

      October 14, 2012

      I'm with Matt on this one. After reading this, I was thinking about coming up with a post that combines all of the above but then realized I won't be able to just use someone else's random photos... Now I gotta go write up a legitimate post - damn you, Dave!

  35. Reply

    Juno

    February 10, 2011

    Ha exactly my point. That's exactly why I don't do 'list' posts that I don't know about. Brilliant.

  36. Reply

    Nico

    February 10, 2011

    Hmm. While I completely agree that claiming your choices are "best" drastically overstates your experience (it couldn't be more relative), I think a list post is probably the safest bet that someone, beyond perhaps your loyal reader base, will actually finish reading it.

    I actually prefer a list post precisely because it's skimmable. A la John's (above) "easily digested format". I'll bet everyone here struggles with time management, and when you're faced with massive blocks of endless text you may be in for an exercise in aggravation. I like to be able to read the section headings, get feel for the content and then delve farther in as my attention sees fit.

    Also, regarding Flickr, don't think people use it out of laziness, but out of practicality.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      I've got no issue with using Flickr at all - I often use it myself when I don't have a photo that fits the post well or at all.

      Using it for a photo here and there to illustrate a point is totally fine by me. Forming a post largely or entirely out of pictures that you've taken from the public domain, however? Not so much.

  37. Reply

    Giulia

    February 10, 2011

    Ohhh I love it when someone has the guts (can I say guts?) to tell the truth :) I read so many useless and boring lists around.
    But, to be fair, some are interesting too! And the "list style" makes reading quicker and easy. At least for a second language writer like me.
    Anyway, it's good to know that I'm not the only one - sometimes I asked myself if the blogger in issue thinks we're stupid.
    Thanks for the laugh and great post!

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      Thanks Giulia, so pleased you enjoyed it!

  38. Reply

    Jeremy B

    February 10, 2011

    Very funny post! It's like stabbing someone while telling a joke. It's actually a very harsh and honest post but the humor covers up the wound a little.

    I have to say I don't do that many top 10 (or whatever the number) posts. I only write those when I am really inspired to do it and feel like I can share something that hasn't been shared before. However, I completely understand what you are saying. It's a cheap, lazy way to drive traffic to your site.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      Hehe I loved that description!

  39. Reply

    Sally

    February 10, 2011

    I have a deathly fear of bullet points and really don't enjoy top ten lists (unless they're about cookies or snacks). Despite this, I do write list posts now and again... but I replace all tips or sweeping generalizations about places I've visited with silly anecdotes or stories about haircuts and cookies or some snarky rant about someone. It's kind of like those old commercials where they used to replace the gourmet coffee with Folger's Crystals (I don't know if you got this commercial in New Zealand -- but you understand, right?). I get a kick out of luring people in with the promise of helpful advice or short bytes of information and then smacking them with some big long ridiculous post about how my pants don't fit anymore. It's fun! I suggest you try it sometime.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 10, 2011

      We didn't get that ad in NZ, but I think I know what you're saying.

      You're saying that cookies are awesome and 3000 words about pants is totally acceptable, right?

  40. Reply

    Michelle Chin

    February 10, 2011

    Top 10 comments of the day!

    *faints*

  41. Reply

    Nigel Dean

    February 10, 2011

    I would agree that "Top 10" anythings is an easy way to attract readers without having to do anything too much in depth. They are always much more subjective than objective - to have any meaning you would have to do a meta analysis of a whole lot of similar lists - and who would be bothered doing that? To be honest I much prefer good old fashioned in depth travel writing about a place that is meaningful to the writer.

  42. Reply

    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    February 11, 2011

    Thank you! It amazes me how many people have the SAME top ten lists of bloggers. Do we really need another one of these lists? We all know who these people are so stop trying to kiss ass. Come on people, get a little creative!

  43. Reply

    Conrad

    February 11, 2011

    I smile. And I don't smile a lot. And that's a fact.

  44. Reply

    Jason

    February 11, 2011

    Had me in stitches Dave. Lets hope throws the anchor out on posts of this kind. Somehow, I don't think it will. Take it easy mate, and looking forward to the catch up.

  45. Reply

    Traci

    February 12, 2011

    I’m fond of that last one, too! No matter how desperate I may get for traffic, I will not engage this tactic! SEO be damned!

  46. Reply

    Abbey Hesser

    February 12, 2011

    The Top 5 Reasons Dave makes me want to puke

    1. I have done all of these
    2. This was totally a top 6 post disguised with H1 tags
    3. Just because you're bitter that I didn't mention you in my post "Top 300 Bloggers of 2010" doesn't mean you have to get all pissy
    4. HOW the EFF did you get 77 comments on this? Damn. I'm doing something wrong.
    5. Maybe it's all the Top 10 posts I do.

    Kisses!

  47. Reply

    Priyank

    February 14, 2011

    Hi Dave, I wonder whats the source of this kind of writing. Is it because we are forced in school to write the top 3 takeaways from a book or the top 5 things you studied in this course, etc.? The obsession over numbers, stats and such efficiency indices is appalling and nobody else does it more than in North America.

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 14, 2011

      Hi Priyank,

      Interesting question. I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of the reason why these lists started ... these days I suspect it's more to do with the combination of laziness and SEO!

  48. Reply

    Vi@Travel Tips

    February 15, 2011

    Everybody is used to make lists in daily life - shopping list, packing list, todo list and etc. I think it is nothing bad with it. Only all these should be called "MY top 10 list of xyz"

  49. Reply

    Alouise

    February 15, 2011

    I found this quite funny, but truthfully I like list posts. As long as the writer knows what they're talking about, and it feels like it was written by a person (not some travel brochure) I'm good with it. I've done list posts, but I try not to feel like I have to make a top 10 list, or churn out one a week. I did a list about two travel mistakes I made on my trip to NYC last year, and one about some of the things I did traveling that I never expected to do.

  50. Reply

    Cailin

    February 16, 2011

    I love your Top 6 list as to you why you hate top 10 lists ;) Such a rebel only picking 6 reasons! hahaha

  51. Reply

    Skott and Shawna

    February 17, 2011

    We are taking off on our own trip this summer, and are just in the midst of putting our blog together. Unlike most others, I seem to be strangely attracted to lists...as Shawna and I are researching our trip, I often find myself googling "most off the beaten path countries" or something to that effect. Lists for me are a way to organize things. As I sit in my cubicle right now (woe is me) I probably have about 11 lists on my desk, so it will be interesting once we start our travels what our posts will be composed of.

    Although this might change, at this point we know nothing about google stats, do not have goals set out in terms of the number of readers or followers, and do not see ourselves making too many people's "Bloggers of 2011" posts. We want the trip to be the reason for our trip, as opposed to making the blog the reason for our trip. Our blog, is not a business, but a way to keep memories for us and as a way to touch base with family and friends. Don't get me wrong, we have made some decent connections with some really cool travel bloggers, and I hope they do read our blog once it is up and running, but as selfish as it sounds it will be written for us first. (Fingers crossed that you cannot call me a hypocrite in 9 months from now)

    I have no doubt that we will likely put out lists here and there...favourite things we did in Guatemala, or something to that effect, but these will be based on our authentic experiences.

    Anyways, great post Dave (and pleased to meet you!)...

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 17, 2011

      And great to meet you too! Lists can be great for sure ... but making blog posts out of the Top 10 Nothing Much Whatsoever? Yeah, I'm not a fan...

      Keep up that mentality about writing for friends, family and yourself. A lot of bloggers tend to forget why they got into this game in the first place, I suspect...

  52. Reply

    Can I send you an e-high five????

    • Reply

      Dave

      February 17, 2011

      Yes. Yes you can.

      ;-)

  53. Reply

    Adam

    February 22, 2011

    Just thought I'd throw in my own two cents. One thing I've noticed is that online "rants" serve about the same purpose as "top 10 lists." Both get a bunch of reads and rants against list-making almost always seem to be popular.

    But, hey, the internet is a big place and there's room for almost anything!

    As for my opinion, I don't care much either way. If you're going to put together top 10 photo posts, just at least make sure you pick quality photos or a quality topic. It's all you need, and good quality (however easy it comes by) is good blogging.

  54. Reply

    Charu

    March 25, 2011

    Nicely done, voicing many of the comments I've been thinking about myself. This is a TOP TEN post (just kidding :)). No seriously, it is.

  55. Reply

    Abi

    March 25, 2011

    I enjoy a good top ten post, but most of them aren't that good for the reasons you mention above. Adam has a point about the rant posts, though, and that there's room for almost anything!

    Thanks for a fun read, whatever the topic ;)

  56. Reply

    Erin

    June 16, 2011

    I missed this the first time around..hilarious and valid points. I think top x lists have their place and if done right, they can be useful, I've done many list posts for other sites, but I usually never ever include the word "Top", or if I have to, I put reasoning in for each one. I did one for Gadling and I used "5 Reasons to Visit the Tuamotu Atolls in French Polynesia". It was my experience and pulled together 5 attractions/sights that most people didn't know about, unless they've already been.

    My biggest issue with top 10 lists is they are who's top 10? Big magazines do them and they may have more credibility, but an independent blogger may not have traveled that extensively yet. If you put MY Top 10 places in Thailand I am far more likely to read over Top 10 Cities in Thailand.

    I can see lists also being useful as a tie in/summary post if you have a lot of information on your blog (especially culinary travel) -- at some point I will pull together like 10 recommended foods at Taipei Night Markets on our culinary travel blog. Still not a top 10 list per se and there will be an accompanying post for each and everything on that list, but my reasons for putting those in will be my own personal experience and the knowledge I've gained while living here 2 years.

    I'm not sure if you went to the TBEX non-narrative session that was supposed to help you make top 10 lists that didn't suck, but I didn't really get much from it (could be because I crashed the workshop session only). One thing they did that elicited some interesting ideas was ask for a review of the Canada Place Convention Center and make it a list post. Some interesting ideas were sparked based on different experiences people had throughout the weekend -- things like 5 places to grab a fast lunch nearby -- possibly list ideas that haven't been done to death and will have some authority behind them.

  57. Reply

    Leah

    December 21, 2011

    I take top 10 lists with a grain of salt. I can find some good information, but typically I just pull out the information that interests me and research on my own. In my young blog, I haven't used the top 10 list, and I really don't see myself doing it in the future. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a top 10 reasons why I quit my job and moved to Brazil post. Now that's a thought.

  58. Reply

    Si

    October 14, 2012

    Small time blogger? What does that make me - a tiny-time blogger? Microscopic? Haha, seriously though I agree with you but I think list-posts (top ten is a bit much, I prefer to list five things) is something of a necessary evil. My strategy to this point has to do a combination of those types of posts that bring people in (because they're easy to digest and are RT fodder) and ones that will, hopefully, keep people coming back - the witty, the interesting and the personal.

  59. Reply

    Jade

    July 3, 2013

    Heh, you should have titled Top 6 Peeves about Top Ten Lists. :)


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