Why Top 10 posts make my head explode
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.
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?
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]
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