Why Do AlterNet Readers Love Lists?

AlterNet's traffic is booming, and list stories are leading the way -- can you keep our engines burning and help us with a year-end contribution?

What is it about a list article that so many of our readers love? 

It may very well be that lists are fun, accessible, easy to digest, and full of surprises. In our super-saturated world of 24/7 information, lists are very often our friend, helping us organize and make sense of what's going on.

When I think of some of our most popular list articles, they show that lists can be very entertaining:

10 Shameless Right-Wing Tributes to Ayn Rand That Should Make Any Sane Person Blush
By Roy Edroso, AlterNet

6 Revolting Breakfasts That Just Might Kill You Before Lunch
By Brad Reed, AlterNet

The 7 Creepiest Things About the TSA's "Porno Scanners"

By Lauren Kelley, AlterNet

But there is something more profound about lists besides their accessibility: lists can save lives. In his now famous and profound book, "The Check List Manifesto", Atul Gawande makes the case that in a complex world even experts need help, as do we as readers. As Malcolm Gladwell explains, "Gawande thinks that the modern world requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise: that experts need help, and that progress depends on experts having the humility to concede that they need help."

Well, we all need help, especially with the complex mass of information we have to wade through, process and remember. So, thank you list articles.

List Lovers Unite

You may have noticed that we are in high gear in our "end of the year" fundraising campaign, about halfway to our goal of $80,000. Appeal letters often try to scare you, focusing on the gloom and doom, and we do that too sometimes. The Midterm election and Obama and the Democrats' failure to inspire us has had a profound effect on progressives. It is clear that we cannot let people in Washington take care of things. The results are often bad.

But we have to have fun too. And we still need to raise the dough. All you list lovers, will you support AlterNet and make sure there is some fun and balance to the bad news?

Big Increase in Readership

We have been pleasantly shocked to find that our readership has increased by 40% since election day. In fact, the week of November 14th, more than 1 million unique people visited AlterNet.

And lists have led the way. A few weeks ago, we had one of the most popular articles of the year -- Sarah Seltzer's "16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe -- And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them."

Now, not everyone loves lists. Recently a reader chastised us, writing that we were acting like a tabloid: "This is baby journalism for idiots at best! I like a plain article that goes through things in a logical order and with good writing as well." Well, the good news is that despite their popularity, list articles are just a very small percent of our content. We have tons of great journalism, investigative reports, and complex, multi-layered pieces.  We post more than 25 pieces of content a day, and only two or three might be lists -- and these are often great journalism as well.

So will you help? We'll give you the best graph by graph journalism AND some of the most creative lists in the progressive universe.

The bottom line -- we need readers to step up and support us. Help us reach millions with the best of progressive ideas and opinion. But there is no free lunch. We've got to hit the $80k mark for us to enter 2011 healthy and fully staffed. We've got $40k to go.Please click here and send us a contribution.

Happy Holidays,

Don Hazen
Executive Editor,

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
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