Over the past month we've been offering up our Saturday slot to some of our favorite writers from around the web. This week we gave the spot to Alex Blagg, managing editor at BestWeekEver.tv and a former Cracked.com columnist. This turned out to be a huge mistake. Below, Alex reveals all of our link-whoring secrets in seven easy-to-digest nuggets.
As editor of a pop culture blog and a former writer for Cracked.com, I deeply understand that The Amusing Top 10 List is possibly the most effective vehicle of internet comedy delivery in the universe. But while these posts might seem like Digg-baiting link lay-ups, a certain art and a craft goes into writing them. And like most fine arts, list writing can be totally encapsulated in an easy-to-digest eight step guide.
7Use the Golden Formula
"The" + (Number) + "Most" + (Over the top adjective) + (Subject) + Of All Time (Synonyms like "in History" or "Ever" will also be accepted) = Popularity
But surely Cracked.com's success can't be reduced to a simple formula, can it?
Note that these articles do not appear in their "unpopular stuff" section.
Learn it. Live it. Love it. Use it over and over again. List titles are sort of like Mad-Libs in that, with just a little imagination (and I mean like the least measurable amount possible), there are infinite possibilities for mild amusement. Deviation from The Golden Format is not recommended, as the unfortunate fools who attempt to be overly clever or "original" only end up being mostly ignored.
Bonus Tip: Preferred adjectives and adverbs include variations on the words "Awesome," "Crazy" or "Ridiculous." The perfect headline would be "The 10 Most Insanely Ridiculous Awesome '80s Cartoon Robot Movie Villains of All Time."
6Ask the Right Questions
There are incredibly important questions in the world that need to be answered, which is why people read the The New York Times. Often when writing a list, your goal is to come up with a question that nobody on the face of the earth would ever actually need the answer to--a question that may in fact have never been asked before in the history of the human race.
Cracked on Digg, beating a site that dared to ask an important question, and then dared to
get their ASS KICKED!
This might sound easy but think of it like this: Real newspapers give people answers to the questions they're already asking. What's going on in Iraq? What's up with this Bin Laden guy? It's easy to know what questions to answer when they're being asked of you.
But nobody's asking Cracked and me "Who ARE the Top 10 Greatest Character Actors Who Ever Played Ninjas?" or "What DOES Science Have to Say About the Likelihood of a Zombie Apocalypse?" Journalists have it easy.