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Framing Listly : What makes a great list?

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 by in ThiNK First | 0 comments


I had a great conversation last week with @shyamster, my co-founder at @Listly.

We were discussing how to focus our business development and marketing efforts.

It boiled down to a simple question. What is a good list? What makes a great list? What’s a bad list?

Our debate culminated in this chart.

We plotted lists on two axis.

  • Fixed Lists vs Evolving Lists (Lists that get Longer)
  • Static Lists vs Profiled Lists (List that get Richer)

In the first dimension, the crowd adds “interestingness” by adding new items to the list (aka crowd-souring). The Lists get Longer over time. The crowd keeps the list current. The crowd fills out the list and adds breadth and depth.

On the second dimension, the crowd makes the list interesting by profiling list items. This could be by tagging, liking, commenting etc. These lists get richer over time by having more data, moe perspective and more curators. Lists with more attributes are also more interactive.

Listly support the creation/curation of lists in all four quadrants, but our value is most evident in the “Long Rich List” Quadrant (ie top right). The interesting and challenging aspect is very few existing lists are in category today (due to prior teach limitations). That’s no surprise. Every startup is in “Education” mode. We’re educating as fast as we are learning.

We believe many more list benefit from being in this quadrant. Our mission is to communicate this and build a community of people who believe the same things we do.

Beyond the list itself, the lists help form community. Communities form around each list. Lists build bonds not just between the list and the contributor, but between contributors. That’s Metcalfe’s law in action.

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network isproportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).

Great lists are lists we care about. Emotionally, intellectually & socially –  three examples of how we get to care about any list – what does any list means to each of us. The existence of a community forming around a list is massive social proof. I know I seek social proof before I purchase or adopt any new products or services. Listly is at the forefront of transparent social proof.

We have lists with over 2,500 people contributing to a single list. Wow! That’s what I thought. That’s a lot of social proof.

Our most viewed lists has close at 68k+ list page views. That’s a lot of traffic . A lot of engagement. Most of all it’s a lot of emotion and connection to listly, the list and of course, the community. That is a great list.

Both these lists are impressive. The newer list for “The Nines” 2011 has less views and, yet more reactions. That means engagement is higher. There was less friction in adopting this list in it’s second year. That’s a good sign. A metric we aim to keep improving.

Friction is our enemy, simplicity is our friend.

How about you?

FYI – This post was inspired by as post titled “Framing Your Problem, Niche, Market, Business or Startup”

Image Credit: 135953989



Nick Kellet (164 Posts)

Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on Twitter · Linkedin, Facebook and G+ and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and



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