Top 10 Posts on This Blog and an Overview of the Ranking Phenomenon

This super cool blog has been online for 6 months, and for this half-year life anniversary, I decided to highlight the top 10 posts on this blog based on unique pageviews. So here they are:

1. The 10 Most Hi-Tech Cities in the World
2. Canada in the Worldwide Top 3 for Internet Penetration Rate
3. Demystifying Viral Marketing: 7 Myths of Viral Marketing Campaigns
4. The BIXI: What Rocks and What Sucks?
5. Three Types of Convergence: Is the Future Friendly?
6. Pork and beans by Weezer and the 27 YouTube All-stars
7. 5 Questions You Must Answer in a Web Analytics Kickoff Meeting
8. Hockey and Social Networks: The Importance of Teams Members as Social Networks Assets in the NHL
9. A Reply to Mashable: 5 Reasons Why the Cost of Education Will Not Be Zero in The Future
10. Is Twitter the Next Big Thing or the Next MySpace?

6 candles for the half-year birthday of this blog
6 candles for the half-year birthday of this blog

Because dedicating an entire post to the single idea of promoting the top posts on this blog would not be complex enough for me, I decided to organize the remainder of this post as an overview of two psychological concepts related to the ranking phenomenon: (1) memory activation and rankings and (2) the consumer’s judgments of rankings.

Memory activation and rankings

Some will maliciously describe rankings as “MBA-format” text because they are already organized and ready to be digested by your brain. So what? Who in the world would prefer to read disorganized texts rather than organized ones? When reading an online text, textual masochism should not generally be an optimal option! Some might say that texts containing rankings sometimes lack depth or present information that should not be presented at the same level of abstraction; I would answer them by saying that this should be considered independently.

Furthermore, in a copywriting fashion, rankings could be considered as an interesting thing to add to any website since they generally ensure that the copywriting is CRABS (Chunking, Relevant, Accurate, Brief, Scannable).

The consumer’s judgments of rankings

Most organizations use rankings to show consumers how good they are in a specific area. However, there is a “science” behind the use of rankings and consumers are more aware than ever of the “science” of taking advantage of rankings. For instance, if a company ranks 10th in a top 30 ranking regarding employees’ satisfaction, will it be to the company’s advantage to highlight that it is in the top 30 regarding employees’ satisfaction or rather to mention that it ranked in the top 10 regarding employees’ satisfaction? The obvious answer will certainly be the second one, and that is what most organizations will opt for.

I remember six months ago, a Ph.D. student presented his dissertation paper at the Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP) meeting and presented how consumers perceive the rank of an organization based on the framing in which the information is presented. Some might think that working for two years on this topic would be worthless for this student, but I personally think that rankings presentation will gain in importance as the web will continue to grow. I also remember reading influential work concerning the effects of price-ending (i.e. last-digit prices) by Professor Robert Schindler of Rutgers University who spent more than 15 years working on this topic, and other influential work on psychology of pricing by Professor Kent B. Monroe when he was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both of these professors research are highly cited and have influenced large corporations. Here is in the table below a summary of how I think an organization should present its ranking.

What the organization should present … What the real rank is …
First 1
Second 2
Third 3
Fourth 4
Top 5 5
Sixth 6
Top 7 7
Eigth 8
Top 10 9 or 10
Eleventh 11
Top 12 12
Thirteenth 13
Top 15 14 or 15


Conclusion

In conclusion, rankings such as “Top 10” are useful in many other ways than only in promoting my Top 10 posts on this blog. So what do you think of rankings? Do you like them or hate them? Do they help you or harm you? Do you think rankings are like poker faces? Anything else to add on this electrifying topic?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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7 thoughts on “Top 10 Posts on This Blog and an Overview of the Ranking Phenomenon”

  1. Congratulations on your 6 months of blogging. Your blog already outlived the majority of blogs. I find your articles very interesting.

    While reading this post, I found the CRABS acronym very interesting. It reminded me of a lesson I learned in my previous career. I was working in finance and I had to write a memo explaining the new margin requirements on some options trading strategies. I wrote a long text and put in a few examples. In the end, it was one long boring text understandable only to a few. My manager told me :”It’s good work, but no one will read it.” He then proceeded to take my work and turn it into a simple, clear and easy to understand table. Just one fast look at it and you could get all the information. He was also nice enough to keep my name on the memo, for which I received a lot of good feedback ! From then on I learned that tables are very useful.
    I know that tables are not rankings, but rankings perform the same way. You can get a lot of information in just one look.

  2. Thanks for your compliment Jean-Francois, this is really appreciated. I really like your example related to the importance of writing more and more documents that can be related to the CRABS acronym, thanks for sharing. I think that this kind of business writing is a must-learn for anyone early in their career.

  3. Hey hey Marc
    1) Well, this is always useful for both the readers and the blogger to generate some traffic.
    2) Lol, poor crabs to be compared to a STD. I think only the “T” can stand there. As long as it is only transmitted to your way of writting we’re still OK.

  4. My main problem with “top ten list” is that they obviously reinforce and accelerate a pattern and therefore often generate way more views and engagement than typical content discovery through natural navigation would. The more visible they are, the more chance there is that this content will forever stay the top 10 content.

    So to help
    1) they should be very limited in time (top ten of the last hours, day, week)
    2)website should include easier acess to random content or better, content matching the way the user got to the site (what page did he landed on)
    3) hot now is better than top 10

  5. Really interesting comment Phil. I completely agree that top 10 on social bookmarking websites are awful for diversity and for advancing/diffusing new knowledge. An interesting analogy would to musical radio stations. Generally for most of these radio stations, you can easily apply a Pareto law where 20% of the songs are played 80% of the time. Thus, I completely agree with your last three points which stipulates an approach that is more similar to a long tail than one that is related to a Pareto distribution.

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