Tech Talk Tuesday: Lists As Linkbait or Community?

09.1.09


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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8 responses to “Tech Talk Tuesday: Lists As Linkbait or Community?”

  1. ilinap says:

    The only list I like is the one from Friends. You know, the one that lists the five people you get a free romp with should the opportunity, ahem, arise. George Clooney occupies all five slots on my list. I’d do anything for those fantastic boots too. I’ll even add you to my list if it would get those boots on my feet.

  2. damn you. I have now found these: http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/48249 which I will never own, because I can’t have boots that cost more than rent.

  3. Sarah Evans says:

    Thank you, Jessica. I know not everyone is a fan of the “list.” When I created the Top 50 list last year, it was before the “Twitter boom” and I was looking for more interesting people to interact with. I wanted to test it out again this year to see if I would get the same quality results.

  4. annie says:

    I follow one person on that list and only because I like her blog.

    Lists are not evil. They don’t make great blog though.

    My blog roll is neglected. That’s probably why I gave it a page of its own, so I wouldn’t have to see it accusing me of neglect every time I looked at my homepage (which is almost never what would the AYSRers think of me?)

  5. melissa says:

    we were told at blogher to write list posts. i don’t really do traditional list posts. but i think i’m a little more obnoxious than the traditional list post type bloggers?
    blogrolls should be on a separate page anyways. if you even want to do blogrolls. it does something to your page ranking. if you even care about page ranking?
    i don’t follow people just because a list tells me to follow someone. never have. never will.
    and those boots. i started salivating. i want the chloe paddington bag. for a couple of years now. i don’t care which color. i don’t care that it might be out of style by now. i love that purse.
    and i would probably do anything…within reason…for it.
    probably.

  6. Jack says:

    Lists have value and lists are link bait. It always comes down to taking the time to evaluate whether the list is significant.

    Sometimes you can figure that out in advance by knowing who developed it. But you won’t ever see these go away. It is a time honored marketing trick that works.

    Same sort of concept as offering something for free. People always respond to free, even if the item really is worthless.

  7. Lauren says:

    Those boots are hot. Blah blah integrity blah.

  8. lisa says:

    yes Jessica! I also cannot stand those lists either. Last year when people started giving their top list of people to follow on Twitter, it rubbed me the wrong way too.

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