In the words of Aristotle: "All men by nature desire to know."
What one man desired to know, in this case, was, "How long should a list be to get the most people to share it on Facebook?"
Across much of the web today, the listicle is top dog because it's so darn shareable, and on Friday, software engineer Max Woolf set out to quantify the relationship between the length of a listicle and the number of times it gets liked and shared on Facebook.
His findings: There's no magic number.
Using data from nearly 3,000 BuzzFeed listicles, Woolf found that longer lists tend to get more shares, up until the listicle hits 30-something, but the trend line had a fairly gentle slope.
A big exception came in at No. 9, but Woolf said the unpopularity of those listicles was due to BuzzFeed's tendency to publish re-cap material as nonets ("9 Tweets You Missed Today" or "9 Stories We're Reading This Week," for example).
"The behavior for listicle size = 9 entries is not a mistake," Woolf wrote on Reddit. "BuzzFeed, for some reason, always set their redundant Summary listicle article to 9 entries."
The predictable takeaway: Longer might be a little better, but if you're trying to build a super-shareable listicle, the actual content matters a lot more than the way you choose to slice it.
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