8 Reasons “n Ways” Posts are a Waste of Time

Why I'm not a fan.

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You know them so well. "10 Ways to Get Out of Debt Now!" "37 Ways to Be Brief--number 23 will surprise you!"

I’m a coder and that’s what I’m passionate about, but I’ve learned to enjoy writing because it allows me to share those passions and maybe entertain a few folks in the process. I began to write about Coraid products in order to educate users. These writings have become Coraid’s “marketing.”

I code and write, but I also run a business. Occasionally I stop and wonder if my approach to marketing is right. Should Coraid adopt a more conventional strategy? At these moments I take a stroll around the interweb and examine what other companies are doing.

Browsing tech company blogs and publications, there is often a stark lack of real information. It seems there are teams of barely tech-literate people pumping out fluff all over the internet.

The worst offenders of this drivel are the notorious “n Ways to Such-and-Such.” I find these pieces so irritating that I’ve decided to have a bit of fun with them. Here are 8 reasons why I’m not a fan:

  1. They’re overdone. I imagine they are so overdone because some content guru discovered that numbered blogs get clicked on more often. They’ve become the pervasive symbol of inbound marketing and we can’t escape it.

  2. They’re too short. Each point is too short.

  3. They’re useless. The truth is, you can’t reduce important, complicated topics into 6 or 7 “reasons” and derive anything meaningful. These types of posts remind me of that paragon of high-literary art, The Reader’s Digest.

    There was a monthly column succinctly titled Jokes. They discovered that short jokes such as Velcro--what a rip-off! were more popular than longer jokes such as:
    A man goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner points to three identical looking parrots on a perch and says, “The parrot on the left costs $500.”
    “Why so expensive?” the man asks.
    The owner says, “That parrot knows how to use a computer.”
    The man asks about the next parrot and is told that this one costs $1,000 because it can do everything the first parrot can do, plus it knows how to use UNIX.
    Naturally, the increasingly startled man asks about the third parrot and is told that it costs $2,000. The man asked, “What can that one do?!”
    To which the owner replies, “To be honest I have never seen it do a thing but the other two call him boss!”
    It seems that the short jokes, while not very funny, provide enough of a chuckle for the least amount of reading effort possible.

  4. They’re obvious. Yes, I know I can get out of debt by not spending as much. Eating less and working out more results in weight loss.

  5. They’re often wrong. Whenever these kinds of things venture away from the obvious, they screw it up! I know a little bit about coding and reading many of the coding-related ones are hilariously incorrect.

  6. Their writing style is insulting. This might be harsh. But their sentences are short. Sometimes even fragments. They worry about too many words. See #3. Jokes aside, a post’s content is often just as condescending as its sentence structure. I write content that I would want to read, not content that assumes my readers are dim.

  7. They’re written by people lacking any real technical understanding. I was always puzzled by some of the points made in these pieces until I realized that marketing teams don’t know anything about chip design or compiler construction. Even the leaders of most tech companies aren’t technical enough to write good pieces (a few, like the CEO of a certain electric car company, should put down the pen altogether).

  8. Even this post is a waste of time. I spent 20 minutes writing this after a 5-minute analysis of several “n Ways” pieces I read a few months ago. No warranties, express or implied.

So, there you have it. I’m making every effort not to waste your time with my writing (well, in future posts anyway). At worst, I hope to leave you with a bit of a smile. Mostly, I want to inform people about the topics I know a little something about, and hopefully you’ll be interested enough to take a look at Coraid Storage products. And I’m not as worried about going back to conventional marketing anymore.

About the Author

Brantley CoileInventor, coder, and entrepreneur, Brantley Coile invented Stateful packet inspection, network address translation, and Web load balancing used in the Cisco LocalDirector. He went on to create the Coraid line of storage appliances, a product he continues to improve today.

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