This guideline in two nutshells (because you can't fit two nuts in one nutshell):
- Lists are inherently repetitive because they are designed with a single theme that each entry must follow. If the joke is contained in the list's theme and not in its entries, you're just telling the same joke over and over.
- If there is no funny way to get from point A to point B, use the shortest way, which is usually a list. If there are funny ways to get from point A to point B, use the funniest way, which usually isn't a list.
A list is a simplified way of expressing a series of items. Each list has its own set of rules for what items belong on the list, for example a shopping list contains only items which you would want to buy. Time and effort are saved, both for the writer and the reader, by writing such items in a list rather than writing redundant sentences for each item, such as "I need to buy eggs. I need to buy milk. I need to buy bread. I need to buy porn."
In English: A list is merely a formatting tool. Nothing more.
Lists are commonly found in Uncyclopedia articles. New users often read several articles, see lists on many of the pages, and come to the conclusion that because lists are so prevalent on a website striving to be funny, lists must be inherently funny. This is not true! A list simply concentrates what you're writing so that there is no need for segues between sections of content. If what you're writing is funny, and the segues you're skipping would be pointless, using a list is a good thing. If what you're writing is not funny, writing it in a list only makes the unfunnyness more glaring.
Bad lists[edit source]
Any list that breaks the first nutshell is a bad list. The most common kind of bad list is the FLOP, or Frivolous List Of People. A FLOP usually looks something like this:
- List of people who don't know how to tie his or her shoes
- Oscar Wilde
- Chuck Norris
- Steve Ballmer
- George W. Bush
- Kanye West
- Your mom
Besides being filled with overused clichés, this list is a weak attempt at humor, so weak in fact that it doesn't even look like the author was trying to be funny. Now you might be thinking, "But I saw plenty of lists on my favorite articles, some of which were even featured! What makes this list different?" As stated above, a list is simply a formatting tool to make repetitive writing shorter. What would happen if you wrote the above list out?
- Jesus doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Oprah doesn't know how to tie her shoes. Hitler doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Oscar Wilde doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Chuck Norris doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Steve Ballmer doesn't know how to tie his shoes. George W. Bush doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Kanye West doesn't know how to tie his shoes. Your mom doesn't know how to tie her shoes.
When written like this, it becomes clear how such lists are just stupid and not funny. Each entry adds nothing to the article that the previous entries didn't already have. Good lists tell many jokes. This list tells the same unfunny joke over and over, and that is what makes a list bad.
Users are encouraged to remove bad lists from any article they see, or if the article is just a bad list and nothing else, to nominate it for quick deletion.
Mediocre lists[edit source]
Giving a list unique entries isn't always enough to make it good. Some lists have enough quality to not be huffed on first sight, but would be better if they were written as prose instead of as a list. For example:
- List of people who ruled the entire world
- God was the world dictator from the beginning of time to the beginning of man, except for when the dinosaurs stepped in. God was considered world leader because he had full control over the world's only conscious being, himself. He claims to be the permanent world ruler, but then again, so does every world ruler who loses his power before he dies.
- Caligula ruled the entire world before handing the reigns to his horse. The horse decreed that there would be a sack of oats in every house, and that cavalries could only ride in to war on zebras.
- Alexander the Great conquered Europe and the Middle East. This made him ruler of the world because at the time, Africa, Asia, America, Australia, and Antarctica didn't yet exist.
- After discovering the New World, Christopher Columbus claimed "finder's keepers", making him legally the owner of America. However because Columbus thought that the land he found was eastern Asia, he claimed he had found and therefore owned the old world. Considering everyone who disagreed that Columbus had found the old world was declared a heretic and burned at the stake, his claim to world ruler went mostly undisputed.
- Shakespeare ruled the world... or was that the Globe?
- George W. Bush is President of the World from 2000-2008, although his claim is disputed by people who believe that there may be other parts of the world outside the US.
This list wouldn't be a candidate for quick deletion, but it would never be able to reach featured status in this state. By converting this from a list to a full-blown article, there would be room for far more humor than a list would allow for. How did each person become a world leader? What did they do while they were world leader? How did they lose control of the world? What happened between world leaders? Were there any people who came close to becoming a world ruler whose attempts warrant being mentioned? An article about world leadership would be much funnier if the follies that happened every step of the way were documented, and at that point it becomes impossible to include such varying types of information in a list, which exists specifically to document a non-varying series of information. That's why this list is considered mediocre: it works to an extent, but to work well it needs to become a true article.
Mediocre lists should be marked with Template:Anti-list to let anyone who cares know that the list should be converted into prose. If nobody cares enough to improve it into a list within a reasonable amount of time, it may be deleted.
Examples of good lists[edit source]
These lists are all featured articles on Uncyclopedia. Love them, learn from them: