From Yahoo! Finance's homepage:
“ 5 Home Improvements That Can Lower Your Taxes”
“ 5 Good Stocks to Buy While They Are Cheap”
“The 11 Commandments of Retiring Early”
“19 Terrifying Bridges to Turn Your Stomach”
“ 9 Great Vanguard Funds for Retirement Savers”
“ 7 Energy Stocks to Buy While Oil is Cheap”
“8 Stocks Under $10 Set to Soar”
From Marketwatch's homepage:
“23 Stocks They're Throwing Out With the Bathwater”
“The 20 Dividend Stocks That Wall Street Loves Most”
“ 5 Most Profitable Housing Markets in America
“ 3 Things to Avoid in the First 3 Years of Retirement”
“10 Things Cruise Lines Won't tell You”
“ 7 Cruises for People who Think They Hate Cruises
From Barron's homepage:
“ 3 Earnings Dynamos That Are Lighting up the Street
“Nine Banks Set to Grow EPS in 2016”
And if your interest tilts more toward building a business than investing in one, here's a sampling of Entrepreneur's homepage:
“10 Ways to Become a Millionaire in Your 20s.”
“The Only 5 Ways You Can Become Rich.”
“ 5 Tips to Build an Award-Winning Company Culture and Multi-Million Dollar Business”
“10 Bad Habits Preventing Your Business From Succeeding”
No business website, though, is more prolific with numbers than BusinessInsider. On one random day, BusinessInsider offered 20 articles titled as a list on its homepage. For the helluva of it, I clicked one hyperlink titled “Our 25 top predictions for 2016” where I was presented with another hyperlink to the actual predictions article. I passed.
Money isn't everything; you have to live and experience. What's wealth without health? I'm a man, and I want to remain healthy, so let's see what a popular men's magazine, Men's Health, can contribute to my well-being. From Men's Health homepage:
“ 7 Signs Your Semen is Healthy and Strong”
“ 5 Ways to Please Her Every Time”
“ 5 Exercises That Can Cause a Spontaneous Orgasm” (Perhaps this is the reason my gym requires a
wipe-down after using the equipment.)
“13 Things You Should Be Doing to Her Clitoris"
“ 5 Reasons She Hates Oral Sex”
Titillating perhaps, but also myopic and really tiresome in such jading doses. Health, after all, is holistic; it extends to the entire body. The pelvic region matters, but not as much as every married man knows. Perhaps the Men's Health editor can expand the horizon?
Not really, at least initially. The editor is also a party to the puerile Hustler-circa-1979 themed plot. Here's his lead:
“10 Common Penis Problems"
But then adulthood is finally embraced. Still, the offerings adhere to the shopworn "list" imperative:
“15 Basic Facts About Muscle Building”
“50 Healthiest Recipes”
“10 Ways to Look Instantly Better”
Because these “list” articles are breezy and easy, readers are naturally drawn to them. For writers, “list” articles are an intellectual backstop. When inspiration runs low and a deadline looms large, create a list. (This I know from experience.)
I understand why they work. "Lists" offer the appeal of self improvement sans the work of self improvement. By reading superficial 500-to-700 word articles, the reader can at least metaphysically reach the goal, even if there is no hope of actually reach it. Reading “15 Basic Facts About Muscle Building” conflates with working in the gym to apply the 15 basic facts. The two are hardly the same, of course, but in the reader's mind the reading of “15 Basic Fact” is the work.
The reality is that reading “list” articles are no more self-improving than watching television or playing the lottery. What genuine entrepreneur occupied with the sands of battle will read "The Only 5 Ways to Become Rich in Your 20s"? None, because every genuine entrepreneur knows that no two people trample the same path to success, and every genuine entrepreneur is out trampling, not reading a list.
To read to acquire actionable knowledge requires concentrated thought. No one concentrates when reading a “list” article; and for good reason, the payout isn't worth the effort. Most readers of, say, “5 Top Books Warren Buffett Recommends” will forget the first book by the time they reach the fifth. (Invoking Warren Buffett was no accident. Working Buffett into the title of a "list" article is as sure a combination for generating clicks as any.) Not that it matters; no list reader would have read the books anyway. And if one did, it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
Most readers intuitively know they've accomplished nothing after reading a "list" article. Some even feel ripped off. Ex-post, readers are nearly always disappointed by "list" articles; yet ex-ante, readers invariably believe otherwise. "List" articles are a Siren song; readers are unable to resist coming back for more, so they come back for more.
Blame eternal optimism and wishful thinking: The next “list” article, will be the one that really does make a difference, much like the next lottery ticket. So, it's onto the next list. Indeed, one final visit to Barron's websites before signing off, and lo-and-behold what's the most viewed article for the week? “9 Oversold Drug Stocks With Big-Gain Potential.”