7 is the new 10
So I lost a bet. Top 10 lists have long been the staple of bloggers, online writers, and one particular late night comedian. But like any “too much of a good thing”, I got into a discussion about “why top 10 lists”. Why not top 6 or top 9? A few interesting queries later, I was able to determine: do people really like top 10 stories? or has that number become so trite, so overused, that top 10 lists are ignored and overlooked. My guess, top 6 stories would be the most successful, my adversary (VP Malcolm Young) guessed top 7 lists.
At first I wondered whether the non top 10 lists would be better because the thought behind them was less contrived. However, it appears that only 2 numbers (12 and 7) were more successful than 10. I think there are a couple of points to be taken:
- Top 10 and 5 lists aren’t that bad, but it looks contrived when you hit that number on the head. If you were really trying to provide valuable content, why restrict yourself to those numbers? It just looks like you are trying to game the system.
- Top 3 or 4 lists are just too small. They hardly make a list at all.
- Top 6, 9 and 11 lists seem unrefined or incomplete. If you are going to submit a list with numbers so close to the comfortable 5 and 10, you should take the time to refine or supplement it.
- 7 is the magic number, it seems the most comfortable – not exhausting but not incomplete. Perhaps our attention span is shorter than ever?
- 12 is not so bad itself. Perhaps 12 feels “comprehensive” and “complete”