May 24, 2013

The Magical Listical Tour | Lazy, Ass-Kissy, Effective and Odds on Bad for Beer Writing.

Roll up WE'LL RUIN EVERYTHING YOU READ, roll up for the listical tour.
Roll up TO MAKE OUR IMPRESSION RATES SUCCEED, roll up for the listical tour
The Magical Listical Tour is waiting for your clicks today,
Waiting for your clicks to pay, your clicks pay.
Yesterday a tweet of mine came full circle. (Twitter is useful.)

Bill Night went on to post at the New School Blog: PISS AND VINEGAR: 10 REASONS I HATE LISTICLES. Don't worry, there is no list, but Bill points out that it's lazy, effective and ass-kissy. On the internet, that trio is a cat pic away from having all Four Horses of the Apocalypse. 

On how the air of authority masks a lack of content:
What's wrong with making lists?  Nothing at all.  But the listicle format is so easy to churn out that many paper publications and blogs end up full of vapid, uninformed musings, conveniently shrink-wrapped into easy-to-skim numbered lists.  Slap a number on it--and a superlative like "best" or "top"--and suddenly whatever you thought of just now takes on an air of authority.  An ordered list might have some meaning if there was some data behind it, but the lists we are constantly assaulted with are nothing more than a bunch of things that happened to catch someone's attention recently.
On the proliferation of sucking up:
I think another part of the appeal is that you get to kiss a lot of asses at one time with a listicle.  In these times of social-media log-rolling, listing 186 beers will get your article 186 Facebook thumbs and Twitter retweets just from the breweries themselves.  Some percentage of the breweries' followers will go on to share the links, then you re-tweet those as they come your way, and now your listicle is bouncing off the walls of the social media echo chamber.
One thing that Bill missed and Jeff Alworth mentions in the comments is the nature of page views and impressions. Advertisers pay for number of impressions and so if you can break a piece up in 5 pieces you get five impressions instead of one. Farhad Manjoo explains all of this in a Slate article and why there is no technological reason for this type of web pagination. Slate, you will note, breaks articles across multiple pages but does have a single page link on the bottom left of page 1 on every post. Slate was also the publisher of a piece on Hops Ruining Beer. (I put that on a single page for you.) Many on the web were calling the author of that post lazy. Thirteen hundred words is not lazy. Not list lazy.

So what to do about multipage posts that are 5, 10 and 25 clicks long? I used to skip them de riguer. Enter Deslider, a webpage that parses multi-click website slideshows and presents them on one page. Now it doesn't work on The Phoenix New Times standard two page minimum click type of article but it did work for a piece on 25 Breweries to Watch. Compare the original to the deslider version.

Hat tip to Matthew Elliot for pointing out this web tool.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you - I hate those posts that are a zillion pages long with one measly nugget on each. I'll have to give that a look.