How to Make an Internet Top Ten List When You Know Little About the Subject


(Using “The All-Time Greatest Basketball Dunks” as an Example)

1. The Iconic Item: The first item on your list should be your best item — something no one would disagree with. (A Kobe Bryant dunk.)


2. The Second Item: The second item should be another strong item. Indeed, you only need two items to make an internet top-ten list. (A Dwight Howard dunk.)

3. The Suspicious Item: The third item still needs to be good, but can be slightly off. (A Harlem Globetrotter dunk.)

4. The Breadth Item: Now you need to establish the width of your search. Pick an item that deviates from the previous three in nationality, ethnicity, sex, class, religion, and so on. (A Caucasian WNBA dunk.)

Julius Erving performing a slam dunk in 1981
Image: Jim Accordino

5. The Depth Item: Select an item that is very old. This entry will suggest to your readers that you’ve considered all entrants of the past, and not merely those within the past three years. (A Wilt Chamberlain dunk.)

6. The Throwaway Item: Having now convinced your readers that you are an authority on the subject, the sixth item can be utterly forgettable and not even legitimate. (A Blake Griffin layup.)

7. The Joke Item: It’s time to give your readers a break. Anything humorous and somewhat related will do. A pun works well here. (A group of basketball players dunk a cooler of Gatorade over their coach’s head.)

8. The Wow Item: If done right, at this point your readers should be at your mercy. Insert an item that simply looks cool no matter how unfaithful to the spirit of your list. (A mascot-jumping-off-of-a-trampoline-through-a-hoop-of-fire dunk.)

9. The Cheat Item: Having nearly completed the list, you need to re-introduce a strong item. However, since you may have been scrambling to find a strong item since entry number two, you must turn to outright deception. (A great dunk, but taken from a movie, commercial, music video, or very realistic-looking video game.)

10. The Celebratory Item: By now the theme of your top-ten list should be so firmly established in your readers’ minds that you don’t even need to show the final item. Simply imply that it occurred. Select an item that puts the right character in the right context. Use the final item to congratulate your readers for having read the entire list. (LeBron James raising his arms and yelling triumphantly in proximity to the opponent’s net.)

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