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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Top 10 Reasons Top 10 Lists Suck

Comments (63)

It’s that time of year again. Everyone that publishes content and is looking for link bait is publishing a top 10 list of 2011. I’m getting asked daily to contribute – I finally decided to create a blog post so I could simply refer to it instead of saying “sorry – I hate top 10 lists, count me out.”

10. They are boring as shit.

9. Extraordinary selection bias prevails.

8. Clever superlatives like splendiferous are often missing.

7. They always have 10 items. Why not squares like 9 or primes like 11?

6. Google has better things to do than index top 10 lists.

5. Time wasted reading top 10 lists takes time away from playing CastleVille.

4. Ever try to read a top 10 list on an iPhone? There needs to be an app for that.

3. If SOPA/PIPA passes, some of the sites republishing the lists might be shut down.

2. Listmakers, like @abatchelor, are food for the matrix.

1. Very few lists of 10 things fit in 140 characters.

So there.

  • http://joeyevoli.com/ Joe Yevoli

    You’re absolutely right.  This list sucked :)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I agree. It sucked when I was writing it, and it sucks for anyone reading it. It’s intended to be completely self-referential.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I am the master of self-referential bullshit.

  • http://hdemott.wordpress.com Harry DeMott

    All wrong Brad, all wrong.

    Go back to school over at Silicon Valley Insider – master publisher of lists that matter.

    What you will learn is never to reveal more than 2 or 3 items on your list.

    Pictures of course. Perhaps of your office space – or the mailbox where written business plans used to get dropped off.

    Then each item on the list has to be revealed using another click – which conveniently changes the ads and increases page count. Helps with the search engines as well.

    Hopefully, by the time you get around to posting your top 13 predictions for 2012 (prime and part of a Fibonacci sequence, plus a bakers dozen – 1 more than 12 for 2012, you get it?) you will have mastered these techniques and might just make something of this little hobby of yours!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yeah – you are right – I definitely didn’t optimize the page views or time spent on site for this particular list. I guess I’ll have to do a bunch of other ones.

  • Mark Evans

    I don’t think they suck at all because they’re a reader-friendly medium at a time when people are time-strapped and multi-tasking. Top-10 lists are engaging and, if done value, can provide good value in an accessible format.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I find most of the ones that are “useful” to actually be only quasi-useful because they have a lot of selection bias. Top 10 Tech Blahs? Where did the sample come from?

  • http://kirklove.tumblr.com/ kirklove

    Grinch! ;)

    I agree for the most past they can be silly. I kept a top 10 albums of the year for the first time. The list is – whatever, who cares, though I will say the actual process of keeping and maintaing that list was very enjoyable for me personally.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      That’s not a top 10 list, that’s a hobby!

  • Anonymous

    Someone send this to the Mashable editors. For some reason, they’ve fallen in love with top 10 lists.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Hah. Yeah – Mashable (and a whole bunch of other tech blogs) get really painful this time of year. Bah humbuglists.

  • http://www.alearningaday.com Rohan

    Boo.

    Boring list.
    ;)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Then I’ve succeeded in making my point!

  • http://twitter.com/roykaller roy kaller

    Yawn…..yeah, I’m food for the Matix too….

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      We all are.

  • http://www.onetruefan.com Eric Marcoullier

    Here you go, Brad. This Top 10 list in handy, 140-character Twitter format:

    Top 10 Reasons Top 10 Lists Suck: boring, bias, lame vocab, fun w/ #s, !GOOG, !ZNGA, Jobs hates them, SOPA sux, no spoon, not twitterrific

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Well done. And, in deference to my StockTwits friends, it’s $GOOG and $ZNGA

      • http://www.onetruefan.com Eric Marcoullier

        I had two characters left over, so let’s go with !$GOOG and !$ZNGA to keep the list accurate :)

  • Anonymous

    hey Brad. I can’t agree more! last year I made this alternative list which sadly is still holding water this year. what do you think?
    http://theregjoe.blogspot.com/2010/12/alternative-top-10-list-10-things-that.html 

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      hilarious!

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  • http://limk.com/ Oguz Serdar

    Couldn’t be agreed more with that. My sight could be kind of harsh, since I’m thinking same for all kind of top XX lists out there. 

  • http://thesistown.com/ thesis writing service

    happy holidays to everyone!!!

  • http://twitter.com/mitmads Mads

    Brad, to make your self-referential BS more interesting, i made it a recursive acronym :-)

    TOPTEN Opinionated Pitiful Trashy Evaporative No-brainers

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Brilliant – I love it.

  • Lisa Cash Hanson

    Your pretty funny- I like the “So there ” part

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