Dear Buzzfeed: Stop Ruining Lists

Nobody likes clickbait.

A few weeks ago, I discovered the magnificent organization Stop Clickbait, where they take clickbaity articles and post the link along with the answer to the baiting headline. It’s amazing! I only have one issue with it: they classify lists as clickbait.

There are two kinds of lists that permeate the blogosphere, and sweeping them all into the same “clickbait” category is harmful to the kind that’s actually worth something. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I write a lot of these!

In defense of those lists, it’s an excellent blog format. It lets bloggers categorize thoughts and ideas under neat headlines that let you, the reader, know if a point is something you want to read about. If it’s a subject you’re already familiar with, or the bullet point is a tidbit you already know, you can skip it. Aside from keeping everything neatly organized, information presented as a list can help save precious minutes of your day.

And then there’s Buzzfeed.

I get it–Lists get a lot of clicks. But when people click a list headline, they’re usually expecting useful information, not a collection of 30 GIFs with one-line, opinionated and non-informative snippets written in “hip” language.

Even worse are the “listicles” (shorthand for list-article, apparently) that offer bullet points and a single line of text on individual pages, rife with popups and obnoxious banner ads, expecting you to click through eight to twelve pages or more to get a tidbit of information.

It’s awful, because as I said, I love lists. Lists are great. But as that kind of list permeates the internet, it becomes harder and harder for me to tell if a list I click is actually going to be informative, or if it’s going to be… well, clickbait.

So seriously, Buzzfeed and everyone taking a page from their book, stop messing up our lists. Stop Clickbait is a great idea, but when a major site’s actions drop people like me under a spammy title just because I use lists, I have a problem with that.

Lists are great. They’re helpful. And when I label a blog post in list format, don’t worry–I promise the only reason I’m naming it “Eight great things about dragons” is because I have detailed articulation that explains those qualities, which I can’t boil down into a few keywords in a headline.

There’s no clickbait here. I promise.

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