The Complete Idiot's Guide to GeekLists >> Tips from the Complete Idiot Himself
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Over the course of my time here on BGG, I've written a few GeekLists, and fielded a lot of questions from my fellow Geeks about using the GeekList format to, well... You know. List things.

After some cajoling and prodding, I've decided to put some tips together in the form of a -- wait for it -- GeekList! Huzzah! Feel free to add your own comments to some of my tips, or provide your personal tricks on making GeekLists really zing. The more information this provides, the better.

What do you think?
What are the most important things to keep in mind when writing a GeekList?
What do you enjoy most when reading another user's lists?
What simple tips can help turn a GeekList from Average into Amazing?
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1. Board Game: Initial Subject [Average Rating:6.12 Unranked]
Board Game: Initial Subject
Selecting Your Subject

One of the hardest things in writing a GeekList can be coming up with the original concept. There are some stand-by topics -- Top 10 lists, Thrift Finds, Games Played at X Event and similar lists (all valuable and viable when well-written).

But some topics simply have more resonance than others, or hit a certain nerve with the community, generating a lot of response and interaction. A good topic can range from something very simple -- a specific mechanic, a certain game component, a publisher -- to something far more nuanced -- a common thread running through several games, a subtle relationship between certain types of mechanics or insights into gamer personalities.

With so much to choose from, I often encourage people to start with a few topics that pique their interest, then work from there. I might have 4 or 5 different rough ideas on a topic I'd like to pursue, which I then narrow down in the next step. So when all else fails, go with something you find interesting.
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2. Board Game: Sleuth [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1307]
Board Game: Sleuth
Conduct Some Research

After generating some ideas, it's often a good idea to put your detective cap on (or fashion one out of aluminum foil if you don't have one handy) and do a little research. There are 100s of GeekLists already out there, which provide a great resource for following up on your ideas... but session reports, reviews and game forums can also help refine your focus.

One common response I see on GeekLists is "This has been done before" followed by a list of links to previous GeekLists with a similar topic. This can be avoided by searching BGG for content along the same lines.

Even then, it's perfectly fine to develop content which has been dealt with before. After all, having several reviews available is far more useful than having just a single point of view. But in this case, it's important to distinguish your list from previous lists. What makes your list different? What details can you provide to help it stand out? What different spin can you put on the topic? Can you shed more light on the discussion or perhaps focus on a different element within the broader topic?
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3. Board Game: Voice of the Mummy [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:13422]
Board Game: Voice of the Mummy
Find Your Voice - And Stick With It

No two people have the same writing style. Some are analytical and objective, others casual, conversational and subjective. The trick is to develop a sense of consistency and style within a particular list -- whether or not it's the same tone or voice used in other lists.

If you're making a humorous list, that should be fairly obvious from your writing style. If it's a serious look at game data, a more objective tone may work better.

The trick is to be clear and consistent. Starting out funny and lighthearted, then moving to a serious state, then later to a whimsical, stream-of-consciousness style can be jarring to the reader, and make it much more difficult to process. You don't want your message (serious or otherwise) to get lost in the static of an inconsistent or confusing presentation.

This also means being consistent with your effort throughout the entire GeekList. You want to start strong and end strong. Don't slack on the last few entries -- they should maintain the same quality, stance and voice as the intro and the first few entries.
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4. Board Game: The Bottom Line [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:19014]
Board Game: The Bottom Line
Minimum Threshold

Unless you're developing a GeekList which is a puzzle, a call for help or is focused on a really obscure topic, you need to provide some context to the reader to help express the point of the list. One of the best ways you can do this is by providing a strong list of examples with your original GeekList submission.

I call this the "minimum threshold" to support the GeekList idea. For most of my lists, if I can't think of at least 5 or 6 good examples to include in my original post, or 5 or 6 good points to make with some analysis, I'll table the idea until I can flesh it out more.

It can be confusing to the reader if there are so few items in the list that it's left to each reader to infer the context of the GeekList for himself -- this can easily lead to mixed messages and each person interpreting things slightly differently.
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5. Board Game: Facts in Five [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5225]
Board Game: Facts in Five
Details, Details

The more descriptive your title, introduction and your items, the better. Not only will this make your topic much more clear, it also makes for a much more interesting read. While there's no hard and fast rule about how much information is enough, I think it's pretty easy to tell when there's not enough information.

Few things are more disappointing (as a list writer or reader of someone else's list) than to come across a topic I find interesting and see a note like "Here's another game that fits."

Take some time to define the goal of the list, and make sure that's written out in the introduction. Are you looking for a specific type of game? Are there some game elements you're discounting? What criteria are you applying? Folks need to know what they're getting into -- and whether they want to continue reading the GeekList or if it's just not for them.

Help justify -- or refute -- each item's presence on the list. Why does it belong? How is it different from the other items on the list? Is it an overlooked game? Is the comparison obvious or a stretch? The more details, the more informative (and in general, more useful) the individual items will be. And your GeekList will be better for it.
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6. Board Game: Chit Chat [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked]
Board Game: Chit Chat
Encourage Participation

One of my favorite things about GeekLists is the active participation by the community -- it's an interesting forum for discussion. Writers can make the most of this by asking questions and prompting users to comment.

When writing the entry, you can prompt users to reply by asking open-ended questions. You'll note that I end nearly every single one of my GL introductions with a series of three questions -- trying to solicit feedback from the users and see what they think about the topic.

This can also be done within each item. If you think an item fits the topic, say so, and ask users if they agree or disagree and to back their vote up with some details.

I've also found that if I've done a fairly good job with the other elements (selecting a compelling theme, researching the topic, providing examples) that all the preparation and planning lends itself to participation and discussion by providing a GeekList which stands on its own and provides a unique perspective.
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7. Board Game: WATCH IT! [Average Rating:3.38 Unranked]
Board Game: WATCH IT!
Stay Involved

The GeekList process doesn't end as soon as you hit the "SUBMIT" button. Being an active participant in your own GeekLists shows your fellow Geeks you are proud of your own work and interested in a good discussion about games.

This involvement can be as minor as fixing typos, deleting double posts or correcting inaccuracies in your GeekList. But stay involved by posting replies and comments to other users' additions to your GeekList. If someone posts an item which is a great fit, let them know by posting an encouraging response. If you disagree with an item's inclusion, detail why you don't think it belongs -- but take advantage of the opportunity to encourage more participation by seeing what other folks think.
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8. Board Game: ABC Game [Average Rating:3.76 Unranked]
Board Game: ABC Game
The ABCs of Good Writing

Of everything I learned in college, the one thing I carry with me every day are the ABCs of good writing, drilled into me during journalism, english and creative writing classes. Again and again.

A = Accuracy. Be as accurate and detailed as possible. Don't guess, find out and be sure. Make sure you list the proper designer or publisher, include accurate comments about components, gameplay or structure, etc.

B = Brevity. Be brief. Say only what you need to say to express your point. Edit your own posts to make sure your message isn't getting lost in clutter. Minimum effort, maximum gain.

C = Clarity. Use clear language to ensure you are sending the right message. Define terms that may be ambiguous. Never make the reader guess where you really stand or what you really mean.

(For those of you familiar with my writing style, I endeavor to embrace these ABCs, but constantly fall short of Brevity, in particular).
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9. Board Game: A Bold Stroke: The Soviet Liberation of Kiev, 1943 [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Board Game: A Bold Stroke: The Soviet Liberation of Kiev, 1943
Formatting is Your Friend

Clarity is important visually as well as verbally. If folks have a hard time physically reading your material, they'll gloss over it, misinterpret it, or ignore it. No matter how interesting it might be otherwise.

Put in enough paragraph breaks and new lines to break up content and make sure the information flows well. Reading 3 or 4 smaller paragraphs is easier on the eyes than reading the same amount of content in one massive block.

Take advantage of the editing tools to emphasize important elements. You don't need to go Grognards on us, but using bold, italics or a little color here and there can help make important information stand out, provide a sense of style and consistency, and make your content much easier to digest.
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10. Board Game: Breakthrough [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:11690]
Board Game: Breakthrough
Know When to Break the Rules

All these tips and ideas are just guidelines. They are not canon. They are not foolproof. I can't guarantee that following all of them will result in the most amazing GeekLists ever.

Sometimes you just have to know when to bend the rules -- regardless of whose rules those are. Perhaps your topic defies explanation. Or you're looking for a very particular type of response. Perhaps it's so obscure that you can only think of 1 item to start the list off with. Perhaps you want to experiment with a lot of different styles and options.

Know when to break the rules. Through practice and patience, you'll soon learn which rules work well for you and which you can discard. And the experience gained will result in better GeekLists and better all-around content across the 'Geek.
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