Having done more than a year of countdowns and knowing how well they work, I thought it would be useful to create a guide to making one. While making a countdown can be easy, making a good one requires time and effort, which is something many assemblers don't apply. Notably the ones who work for IGN.
This list can apply to any sort of list you make, whether it be for Youtube Poops or personal things like favorite movies, books, or actors.
1. Always start with the best. The first and most important rule. Never make a countdown starting with the ten slot. It's sloppy and makes your list look disheveled. The whole point of making a countdown is to build up to number one, and the best way to do that is to list your first, second, third, and so on. By starting at ten you are no longer making a countdown; you are making a scatterplot.
2. If #1 was never made, #2 should fill that role. It's an obvious rule, but one a lot of people forget. This doesn't just apply to #1s and #2s though, but to 8s and 9s, 34s and 35s, etc.
3. Know your choices inside and out. If you're making a countdown, you're assumed to be an expert on the subject. Therefore, make sure you know everything about your selections.
4. Listen to your second thoughts. Your doubts are your friends. If you feel you made a mistake somewhere, go see where you made it and if it's a mistake at all. By second guessing yourself, you are pushing yourself to make a better list.
5. Try not to miss a thing. One thing I do occasionally throughout the month is recheck my subscriptions to see if I missed a video somewhere. Sometimes it's a waste of time, other times I pick up on gems I missed, and that happens often since I'm subscribed to so many people. When it comes to constructing lists of personal favorites, a lot of "headhunting" is required. Like say if you were to make a Top Ten Favorite Comedians list. You've thought of every one that comes to mind, and just as you're about to show it to people you suddenly remember you forgot about the legendary Bill Cosby. Mistakes like these are all too common, and it's best you know all your choices.
6. Your opinion is always fluctuating. Your list may look good to you today, but after a couple of days you will start to think, "Maybe A is better than B". That is why I take my time with these lists. I want to make sure my mind is settled on one flat decision. Which leads to my next rule...
7. It's okay to change your mind. If over a period of time you have a change of heart over a decision, do not be afraid to say so and make that change. If your list is unchangeable, simply tell them what you really think when someone mentions something involving your choice.
8. Critics are never idiots. Feedback is important, even for personal opinions. It's always good to listen to what people have to say and ask them what they think, or tell them what you were thinking. After all, your list is a way of conveying your personal opinion, so explain your reasoning whenever you get the chance.
9. Everything has its quirks. Getting back to knowing your choices inside and out, it's really easy to to forget the properties that make a certain selection special. This is something I have to remember as I'm dealing with a form of art that has many styles. I must remember what makes this Poop good while watching another one. That helps me judge A from B.
10. Ten is a narrow number. When it comes to Top Tens, many people forget what the 10 spot really is. If you put something at #10, you are saying that it is better than everything else except the following nine spots. This rule also applies to viewing a Top Ten. It's easy to discredit that spot because countdowns tend to "run over" everything on the way to #1, #10 most of all.
11. Shove guilty pleasures aside. Unless you really think it's good. For the best example we turn to Pimpsahoy, who treated the #10 spot like crap for over a year.
12. Style isn't everything. Just because you have a flashy intro and numbers doesn't make you the best. It's your choices that matter. The graphics are just an added luxury. I never found it necessary to added flashy effects to the Top Ten, mostly because I don't know how to make them. It doesn't make a difference to me though, just as long as I make good choices.