Let’s look in detail at how one particular Buzzfeed post was written and is presented, how it was researched, and where the elements and maybe the idea came from.
Where did this idea come from?
Alex Finnis’s 39 Weird Things You’ll Find In Every British Family Home got the highest rating, a LOL from users, and it was viewed nearly 300,000 times within a couple of days of being published.
It’s a list of items that many will recognise, but where did the content come from?
It took Alex’s journalistic mind, his sense of what makes a story and how to form it, but the stuff in it was found on the web.
Each item has a picture, as Buzzfeed posts very often do, and the pic credits under each item link to where Alex found the item. Most of the sources did not see the item as funny.
So, for example A bag full of other plastic bags:
This item came from the DrDeClutterBlog at the following link: http://www.drdeclutterblog.com/537/fun-and-easy-storage-for-recyclable-plastic-bags/ and was deadly serious, the picture being headlined there: Fun and Easy Storage for Recyclable Plastic Bags
The second, Tupperware containers with no matching lids, came from Eating Richly.com at this link: http://eatingrichly.com/how-to-organize-your-tupperware-cupboard-for-a-couple-bucks-5-easy-steps/ and was headlined there: How to Organize Your Tupperware Cupboard for a Couple Bucks (5 easy Steps!)…
…and the next item, about tupperlids without boxes, came from a blog post at Suggea.com where the writer wishes that Tupperware boxes and their lids were attached to each other, so they couldn’t go astray.
Some items in this listical are picked up from tweets or posts on other social media, where the poster did intend the item to be amusing, such as: 5. A genuine antique can of WD-40.
The item ‘A small box full of used batteries’ came from a post on how to recharge alkaline batteries from Radical Survivalism.com
Sometimes Alex just grabs a picture and uses it in a completely different context to the one intended by the original poster, eg http://friendsofbedlam.co.uk/category/blog/
and ‘Assorted toilet books, most of them crap‘. http://www.tophdgallery.com/enjoy-playing-guitar-book-1-debbie-cracknell.html
‘Old AOL CDs‘ comes from a Wikipedia post on Criticisms of AOL, which used to bombard us all with dozens of discs with which to download their latest version
So a lot of research has gone into the compilation of this list. It works really well because we can all recognise many of the items in it, so it’s got truth going for it.
Actually, the source material is really funny in itself, and might have made up a list of 39 blog posters who need to get a life. Except that’s not nearly as funny.
Not all list-based pieces have an illustration for each element.
It’s still good, and would be impossible to illustrate comprehensively.
Is an image-driven list better than a text-based one?
I think probably yes.