Tech Talk Tuesday: Lists As Linkbait or Community?

Some bloggers like lists. Lists are simple and easy to read, particularly when you’re reading off a computer screen. There are a few other reasons that bloggers write lists:

  • Lists are easy to write
  • You don’t have to use good grammar on a list
  • Lists are easily searched by bots
  • Lists of people might get you mentioned
  • Being on a list might sound impressive
  • If you make a list of people, they might talk about you

See how easy that was? Do you see the value in it?

Neither do I.

Lists from some places are valuable. Lists from Consumer Reports, Fortune and Forbes are commonplace, and as consumers (and watchers of extreme wealth) we have come to rely on them.

Bloggers make lists too. Oftentimes I’ll see posts titled “Seven Easy Steps To Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About”. Bloggers have lists of recommended reading on their sidebars, I have a blogroll (this week) but I don’t feel good about it, it’s neither complete nor is it beneficial. It might be deleted before this post is published. I waffle on the import of a blogroll. It feels manipulative, and disingenuous.

If you’re looking for a list of people to follow on Twitter, the best way is to use twitter. Follow your friend and see who they talk to. Recently there was a list of 43 people to follow on twitter, it included Guy Kawasaki who hired two people to tweet for him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Guy is brilliant, and I’ve got two of his books on my shelf, it’s just that I wouldn’t make him one of my “must follows”.

Well, maybe I would if I wanted him to send traffic to my site.

Nielsen made lists of bloggers a number of times. Nielsen is in the list business, they’ve been measuring and monitoring media for as long as I’ve been alive. Even with all that said, I found myself in the curious position of defending the list. Why didn’t they name so and so? Why did they name so and so?

Because. That is all.

Some lists are done well, Sarah Evans has the community participate and I really do think her list adds value if you’re looking for her group of people. Sarah’s group of people are bright, connected and add value. Is that a niche?

Overall bloggers making lists of other people rubs me wrong. I can’t fully articulate why, but I’d caution folks from making lists or from taking them too seriously. Everyone has a motive, and everyone has a price.

My price? Uh, it’s these boots. Seriously I’d write just about anything for them.

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