Top 7 Lists Lead The Pack On Digg
Lists are good, but if they become too long, readers are liable to lose interest. Too short, and no one will think your 25-word post is worth reading. Top 10 lists have become the norm – but why? Russ Jones of the Google Cache combed through over 2,500 Digg stories to see if lists with more (or fewer) points do better.
The result: if you can’t think of ten different things to say, it’s not a problem. “7 is the magic number, it seems the most comfortable – not exhausting but not incomplete,” writes Jones. “Perhaps our attention span is shorter than ever?”
“Top 7” lists actually scored a 59% success rate, as measured by Jones, compared to 39% for the traditional Top 10 compilations. Marketing Pilgrim’s Jordan McCollum, who noticed Jones’s experiment long before I did, also points out that “success” was defined as making the front page of Digg.
Top 12 lists were fairly high achievers, then, registering at a 47% success rate. “Perhaps 12 feels ‘comprehensive’ and ‘complete,’” suggested Jones. Top 12 lists were also the longest lists he measured, which leaves me wondering how a 13- or 14-item list would have performed.
How did some other, lower numbers fare? Well, a Top 3 or Top 4 barely qualifies as a list – don’t bother unless you’re happy with less than a 10% rate of success. Top 8 lists did even worse, for some reason. Top 5 and Top 11 lists achieved an equal success rate of 29%.
These statistics could become very useful to Digg users – after all, with 2,500 different pieces in the running, it’s unlikely that one extra-interesting Top 7 list could have skewed Jones’s data set. But there’s also the theory that measuring something changes it . . . If a flood of Top 7 lists ensues, don’t expect to see their success continue for long.