Top 10 Facts about TopTenz (4th Anniversary Edition)

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TopTenz.net had its 4th birthday on May 23, 2012, so it seemed appropriate to reflect on the site and provide some statistics and background. I started this top 10 list site back in May of 2008. At that time I wanted to write something about comic books and decided to write a list about the best comic book villains. I also loved top 10 lists and surmised that writing such a list of villains would work best if I limited the number to 10.

And so was born TopTenz.net.

But what has happened since is something that I never foresaw. The site actually started making a small profit one day and that led to more lists being written, which led to the hiring of writers to contribute to the site. In the beginning, I was writing all the lists, but I could see it wouldn’t work to continue to do so because I really didn’t want to lose my wife or my job, in that order. Writing lists every night was getting to be too difficult, so I made the decision to hire writers to help out. “Meeting” many of these talented people has been the most rewarding part of this experience, other than communicating with the thousands of people who have left comments on TopTenz (both good and bad).

The writers have continuously impressed me and expanded my view of our world with their insightful, interesting and sometimes humorous top 10 lists. I look forward to reading them more than anyone- and that is what makes managing this site so much fun.

Sure, there are days (very few) when I think about retiring or selling the site (all offers have been declined to this point and probably always will be), especially when reading through particularly critical comments such as those attacking my character, the site’s integrity or just being plain hateful in a few instances. I will give this advice to anyone thinking of starting a site that allows reader feedback: grow alligator-tough skin and then put on armor.  It also helps to develop a very resilient sense of humor and never take yourself or your site too seriously. I succeed most times… most times.

All in all I do love it and I am thankful for all the writers, readers and friends who have helped TopTenz.net be one of the greatest blessings in my life. So, without further unnecessary commentary, here are the Top 10 Facts about TopTenz (4th anniversary edition).

10. Would You Care to Comment on That?

Most commenters are pleasant and nice on TopTenz, but some…

Of course everyone comes to TopTenz.net for the interesting and often thought-provoking articles, but some people also come for the comments. And, some people leave because of the comments… especially my (toptenzmaster) comments. When readers are insulted or offended they usually don’t hesitate to let us know and then tell us they won’t be coming back. Many lists have more interesting comments than the original list itself; the comments have taken on a life of their own. The top 10 lists with the most comments are:

In some cases I have closed comments due to the volatile nature of the subject matter. Not surprising, religion is usually the topic that causes volatile reactions. Who would have thunk it? The most recent example is Top 10 Greatest Comebacks Of All Time. I shut down the comments at 178 comments,  to the irritation of many readers- some of whom sent quite nasty emails directly to me.

I myself at the time of this writing have made 1,001 comments, quite a few in defense of the religious and political lists, which pales in comparison to the 24,000 total comments on the site. I would estimate the spam comments around 1 million (only a slight exaggeration).

9. Farewell StumbleUpon… Stumble on…

Doesn’t this image make you want to use StumbleUpon.

If you know StumbleUpon, you probably don’t like it as much as you did before October 2011. That was when StumbleUpon changed its interface and saw a mass exodus of its user base, especially many power users. I can only assume the changes came because their revenue model at that time wasn’t working. During this time of transition, StumbleUpon decided to soft-ban (their words) TopTenz.net. What does this mean? Well, TopTenz.net was averaging 7,000 visits a day from StumbleUpon’s social traffic (some days over 75,000). On October 25 that all stopped. Traffic from SU became a trickle, averaging about 250 visits in November, 2011. In May 2012 TopTenz.net received a whopping 953 total visitors from StumbleUpon. Suffice to say, StumbleUpon isn’t the traffic juggernaut it used to be and no longer claims TopTenz.net as one of its popular sites. If anyone does know anyone at StumbleUpon who can help, I would love to speak with them.

8. Who Knew Religion was Controversial?

Religions have cool logos.

Actually religion isn’t really that controversial at TopTenz. More specifically, it is the topic of Christianity, God and Jesus that spark the heated debates. Any mention of Jesus is sure to start a firestorm. One thing I discovered: atheists, for not believing in God, sure don’t like him much. And they ain’t too fond of Jesus either. I realize men do many evil things in the name of religion, but I have found that many atheists who contribute to this site through comments and email seem to lose their own common sense and attack me and the site with such fervor that I am taken aback. It just proves that religion creates passionate arguments on both sides. Which is why I have cancelled comments on a few of the lists relating to these topics. It becomes draining and a waste of time to keep debating the same things over and over, when neither side is going to change their minds based on the comments of an anonymous person.

Here are few lists that touched on religion, yet it became the overwhelming focus of the comments:

  1. Top 10 Arguments That Can’t Be Won – 407 comments
  2. Top 10 Innocents Who Were Executed – 42 comments (open)
  3. Top 10 Cults – 167 comments
  4. Top 10 Greatest Comebacks of All Time – 178 comments
  5. Top 10 Traitors – 78 comments

Notice that each list wasn’t centered on Christianity, yet the comments became obsessed with Christianity. Two thousand years later and Jesus is still a lightning rod for controversy.

7. There’s an App For That – TopTenz iPhone App

Not the new app, but no images of it yet.

TopTenz.net needs an iPhone app, or at least I thought it did. So I paid a seemingly nice developer to create the app. This developer, who shall not be named, turned out to be not so nice. He delivered an inferior product, many months overdue and was frustratingly difficult to get in touch with. In the end, he held the software for ransom and charged me quite a bit of money for an app I couldn’t use. A small few bought it for 99 cents and I apologize for your frustration. The good news is a new app developer is now writing a totally new app that will work more as I envisioned it should. It will also be available for 99 cents. Why buy the app when you can read it online? Well, you can read previously downloaded lists even when you don’t have a connection to the internet and I will be including one new top 10 list every month that will only be available for TopTenz app owners.

6. Imitation is the Sincerest (and Most Frustrating) Form of Flattery

We know it is ironic posting a picture of Bart Simpson with a post about copyright infringement.

If I had a dollar for every time TopTenz.net had a list taken and used on a competing site without permission (stolen) then I wouldn’t need to advertise on the site, because I’d be rich. Everyday, several times per day, a list is taken and used without credit, without links back and without permission. I can guarantee every list on this site is unique and original except for a small handful that were sent with permission to repost. We don’t condone stealing our lists and we don’t allow reposting without permission, so don’t assume we do. Ask to repost and if we give permission, follow our instructions and provide an actual link back. TopTenz.net pays the writers for lists we publish. You are stealing money from us when you take without asking. So ask! Thanks to all the readers and writers who inform me when they see stolen content. I appreciate your time and your concern.

In an effort to stem the tide we have added a DMCA badge to our site and use them to contact the host companies of sites that break our copyright. So far it has been 100% effective at getting the content removed that we have targeted.


5. Please Edit This List

At TopTenz we print all articles then edit them, then type them in again. Efficient? Certainly not.

We make mistakes. Writers make mistakes. We do our best to correct them and give credit to those who find our mistakes. Our editors help out TopTenz.net in their spare time, so cut them some slack when they miss something. They work hard and are some of the best people I have met. Thank you Tanya and Jason you are both wonderful site editors. Both these people have helped me keep my sanity and have been instrumental in making TopTenz.net the success it is today. And Elizabeth deserves a big shout out for her past work as editor. She has moved on to other endeavors but still visits frequently.

4. Top 10 Most Popular Lists…Kind Of

Bart Simpson gets two photos on this list.

We are rapidly approaching our 1,000th list and should reach it in the beginning of August, 2012. When TopTenz.net started in 2008 I was publishing just 3 lists a week, by myself while working a full-time job. Luckily, I met a writer named William O’Dell and he helped us through some early rough times. Now we publish every week day and sometimes on weekends. Traffic comes from many sources (more on that later), some lists are popular due to ranking highly in Google; it will consistently have high numbers every month and be considered a popular list based on historic and current traffic levels. Lists such as Top 10 Famous Penises which ranks for many terms relating to male genitalia is the all time visited list. Some lists rank well due to being featured on other popular sites such as Top 10 Movie Mistakes. At one point, StumbleUpon (see number 9) was responsible for many popular lists, but now that source has dried up and search traffic provides most of our traffic. Here are the most visited/popular top 10 lists of all time:

  1. Top 10 Famous Penises – 2,211,739 visits
  2. Top 10 Pictures That Shocked The World by – 1,782,857 visits
  3. Top 10 Movie Mistakes by  – 1,681,143 visits
  4. Top 10 Beautiful Eyes –  1,255,030 visits
  5. Top 10 Myths About Sex – 1,013,827 visits
  6. Top 10 Sad Songs – 784,593 visits
  7. Top 10 Civilizations That Mysteriously Disappeared by – 660,574 visits
  8. Top 10 Hilarious Websites of Human Misery by – 656,038 visits
  9. Top 10 Bizarre Archaeological Discoveries by – 643,249 visits
  10. Top 10 Best Ghost Photographs by – 593,228 visits

Sadly, my first list published and the first list on TopTenz.net did not make the top 10. Top 10 Comic Book Villains ranks 76th with 164,739 visits. And another list I wrote, which I consider possibly the worst and most boring list on the site – Top 10 Hats comes in at 487 with 37,482 visits.

3. We Always Wanted a Baby Sister (Website)

toptenzpictures

Yay! This time we got the .com

We all love pictures. In fact the number 2 list on the site is about pictures that shocked the world. But TopTenz is more about words than pictures and I find that to be limiting sometimes. So I decided to create a new site where images, photographs and pictures were the stars and content was limited to a brief paragraph at the top and thus began http://www.toptenzpictures.com. But it is off to a slow start. It will be a companion site to TopTenz.net, showcasing bigger, better and more pictures than TopTenz.net. I try to relate posts on TopTenzPictures.com to lists on TopTenz.net. It is also my hope that StumbleUpon and its users will visit that site and bestow upon it the gift of many visitors. So if you use StumbleUpon please take a look and give a list a thumbs up while you are there.

2. Writers Do It…Literally

Does anyone think we use the word literally, literally too much?

As I mentioned, TopTenz.net is really nothing without two groups, readers and writers. Writing for TopTenz.net was a task I initially started, although I wasn’t particularly good at it. So I decided to hire people who could do a better job and that decision that made all the difference! Out of the 950+ lists on the site today, over 100 different writers have contributed. Our current most prolific writers are:

  1. Ash Grant – 66 lists
  2. Evan Andrews – 49 lists
  3. Bryan Johnson – 40 lists
  4. Jeff Danelek – 30 lists
  5. Nathanael Hood – 27 lists
  6. Timeea Vinerean – 26 lists
  7. Mark Hill – 26 lists
  8. Ann Iredale – 22 lists
  9. Ryan Thomas – 22 lists
  10. Dustin Koski – 21 lists

1. TopTenz Gets Around

Our social media idols, Paris and Kim.

Being popular is hard work and that’s what keeps TopTenz.net honest. We don’t take our readership or our success for granted. And in doing our best to make our site accessible, TopTenz has made good use of some social sites. Some of the largest referring sites are:

  • Facebook –  At the time of this writing, TopTenz has 17,523 fans. Care to join us? http://www.facebook.com/TopTenz
  • Twitter – Our twitter account – http://twitter.com/toptenz has 3,766 followers
  • Pinterest – A mild effort has been applied to setting up a Pinterest account – http://pinterest.com/toptenz/
  • Youtube – We have many playlists that accompany our video-related lists and have created a few original videos as well. Currently we have 607 subscribers and 104,000 views. Subscribe here.
  • We attempted to create a podcast of our lists but our voice talent couldn’t keep up the schedule. You can still hear our 7 podcasts.

Of course TopTenz.net gets support from thousands of sites, some big, some small, but all important. We have received visitors from 26,903 different sites in the 4 years we have been around. We have a lot of visitors from around the globe, in fact we had people visit from 236 country/territories. Svalbard and Jan Mayen territory sent the smallest amount of traffic, just 2 visitors. Vatican City has sent 6 visitors and North Korea has seen a TopTenz.net 3 times. And my favorite territory from our stats? Christmas Island has sent us 21 visitors.

TopTenz has provided top 10 lists to 46,876,277 visitors and it is our hope we made a few of them glad they dropped by. Thank you once again to all of our readers – some of the best you can find on the Internet, in my opinion.


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26 Comments

  1. Happy birthday Toptenz. I Have huge amounts of love and respect for your site. May for the many many coming years you guys keep our brains enlightened and our grey cells activated.

  2. TopTenz is now 4 years old, which is equal to 40 years in Internet-Years! Well done!
    Thank you to all the writers and everybody else who’ve put in the time and effort to make this a highly enjoyable site.

  3. as far as No.6 goes, I dont know if you guys…for lack of a better word “sponser” the top5sdotnet website, but almost EVERY list from this website is on that one, they’ve just shortened them down. I really do like this website even though at times it frustrates me when the list’s are boring and not interesting to me. After all, this website get’s me through most of my morning. Thanks Toptenz.net!!

  4. Congratulations to TopTenz.Net! I have learned so much from the website, definitely one of the most entertaining on the web. Great work to all the writers and the Top Ten Master.

  5. Happy 4th! Thanks for accepting that first list I sent in (almost 4 years ago, it was published in July 2008!) and for being such a good friend since then. Working for this site has been so fun – cheers!

  6. I’m glad you actually have editors. There’s another list site that posts articles as-is, which can result in excruciating experiences.

  7. Congratulations on reaching the 4th anniversary. Yours is one of my ‘big 3’ daily check in sites (listeverse and cracked being the other 2). You’re consistently entertaining, and I’ve referred you to many friends in the past as a way of whiling away our long hours at work. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

  8. The Riddler on

    Congratulations on 4 years, TopTenz. You have a wonderful team of writers and editors and even through harsh comments, you all manage to maintain dignity and class. Also, for the record, your Top Ten Comic Book Villains list is actually one of my personal favorites. πŸ™‚ Good form.

  9. Keep it up! You’re one of the few sites that keeps me entertained at my boring desk job!

    • If this site helps those with boring jobs get through the day, then I feel this site has indeed accomplished something great. This site is a “moveable feast!”

      (The term “movable feast” was used by Ernest Hemingway to mean the memory of a splendid place that continues to go with the moving traveler for the rest of life, after he has had the experience of it and gone away. The author used the title A Moveable Feast for his late-life memoirs of his early life as a struggling writer in Paris in the 1920s. He said to a friend: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”)

  10. Adam Farwell on

    I think you do a great job of editing, especially with the gigantic variety of top 10 lists you post. I always come back for the art-related stuff though, and I haven’t seen any in a few weeks.

  11. Congrats on your anniversary, and I must say I shall keep reading this excellent site unless you ban me for what I am going to say next. #6: Haven’t you also done exactly the same thing sometimes? i.e. stolen from Cracked.com?

    • I have never stolen a single article. I have never supported an article being stolen. If something is similar to Cracked.com or any other site, that is a coincidence only because top lists are bound to have similar list items. But if anyone ever discovers a list that we published that was already published earlier elsewhere, that would be because the author was deceitful to me and they would never write for TopTenz again.

      There is no long-term gain in stealing content. Google would start to ignore your site. Google hates duplicate content and will filter out duplicates over time. The more duplicate content they find on your site, the less authority you have. I would be hurting the site to allow duplicate content, especially from a 800 lb. gorilla such as Cracked.com. We are fortunate to to have many writers on Toptenz.net that also write for Cracked.com, so writing styles may be similar. Plus, I don’t think Cracked.com does top 10 lists, do they? It is more like 5, 6 and 7 items for them. I honestly don’t read cracked.com or other lists sites so I’m not sure.

      • Cracked and this site do have a lot of similar subjects and share a few similar titles, but the content is always very, very different. They are my two favorite websites and I hope you continue to put out great lists! πŸ™‚

  12. Congratulations on 4 interesting years.A great website. (Why have you stopped sending me an email when a new list comes out?)

  13. Congrats on the 4 years. I used to go to listverse more than this site, but would still visit both to pass the time. listverse has gone downhill recently, especially with the comments section. Luckily, your comments section has fewer trolls and the articles have been very interesting this past year. Plus the writing is mostly top notch and very entertaining. Thanks for being around for my enjoyment.