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Thursday, August 24 12:00 AM ET

Five Reasons You Shouldn't
Link to Blog Lists

By Brian Briggs

Bloggers want traffic to their blog. One way to get traffic is to write in your blog a list of ways for other bloggers to get traffic to their blog, like "56 ways to get traffic to your blog." The most common piece of advice in these "way to get traffic lists" is to write lists. It's brilliantly self-fulfilling and it works.

If you scroll through any other blog or community link site you'll always find an article linked like "5 ways to improve your chances with women" or "17 ways to eat a cheeseburger." Bloggers see that other lists are being linked, so they create more. This vicious cycle must be stopped. Here are the five reasons:

  1. Shrinking Brains - These lists break down information into McNugget-sized portions for easy consumption. Like a John Grisham novel, they're fun to read, but don't challenge the reader. If these lists continue, a whole generation will lose the ability to think critically. Great novels in history will have to be rewritten to accommodate them. Moby Dick will become "101 Reasons You Shouldn't Hunt Whales."
  2. Who Are These People? - Most lists are linked to without any background research into the author. Why is this guy an expert on "generating blog traffic" or "eating cheeseburgers?" For all we know he's just some regular guy trying to get links to his blog, and will write anything to do it. If you continue to link to them, these people will gain credibility through popularity, not true expertise. Next thing you know they'll be appearing on Fox News with the caption of "Cheeseburger Eating Expert" without any real credentials.
  3. Think of the Writers - Eventually all the topics for lists will be exhausted. What will the writers at USA Today do then? They'll be out of a job, that's what. USA Today will lose readership and go bankrupt. Newspapers that syndicate USA Today content will fold. Local business unable to advertise in papers will die. The Great Depression will seem like the Roaring 90s in comparison. Don't destroy the economy for the rest of us by linking to these lists.
  4. Ruining the Internet - By linking to these lists you're only encouraging this behavior. More lists will be created and eventually blog lists will overrun all other content on the Internet. You won't be able to Google anything without coming up with pages and pages of lists. A kid doing a report on the Civil War will find "10 Ways Slaveowners Suck" instead of useful information. It will ruin the Internet.
  5. Related News

    Survey Shows More Blogs than People

    Google Yourself At Your Own Risk

    Which Programming Language Are You?

  6. Shaky Premise - Most lists need at least five items to be considered a true list. What happens when a list writer only has four legitimate items to put on a list? Does he or she throw out the list idea and try to find another? I don't think so. They've put ten minutes of work into that list and they aren't going to throw that away. They'll make up some item #5 to tack on to the end of their list whether it makes sense or not. We'll see lists like "The Five Best Card Suits" or "Five US Presidents That Didn't Suck." Many won't stop at five items. We'll see "14 Funny Carrot Top Jokes" and "101 Reasons You Shouldn't Link to Lists." Do you really want inaccurate information like that on the Internet?

It's clear that if you care about the Internet and the world economy that you'll stop linking to lists on blogs. Encourage the youth of today to think deeply and critically. Encourage them to get outside. How do you do that? Why don't you check out some other articles by me like "17 Ways to Get the Youth of Today to Think Deeply and Critically" and "1001 Things to Do Outside."

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