An online publication favourite when the bottom of the story barrel is looking a bit empty is the list - or listicle, as it is sometimes called.
Like a popsicle, a listicle is a bunch of factoids on a stick that looks good but lacks any taste or real substance. These lists usually scope 10 things, examples being the 10 Best Guitarists, 10 Best Songs of the Eighties, 10 Reasons Women Should Never Go Out With A Man Who Doesn't Wear Socks or 10 Reasons Why Men Feel They Are More Attractive When They Don't Wear Socks.
These are fun and entertaining and not meant to be taken too seriously.
A recent highlight was the 10 Kinds of Pimples You Should Never Squeeze ... how did we exist before such lists were created to guide and help us navigate the hazards of life?
The other question is why 10? Perhaps that's a steal from the 10 Commandments - that most famous of all lists is regarded as some of the best and shortest advice ever assembled. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is still a great piece of advice.
In a more contemporary context, it may be that 10 works out at a nice word count to fill a space on a page. I have it on good advice that a list of 10 fits the attention span of the average reader before it wanders off to the next thing.
These lists are usually specifically banal or bizarre.
I mean would you take advice based on a list of the 10 Most Dangerous Ways To Shift a Piano While Wearing a Wedding Dress? (I made that one up but it probably is being written somewhere in the online publications universe).
In keeping with the model of providing advice for every situation, I present my own list of the 10 Worst Pieces of Advice.
1 What do you mean, you can't ride a horse? Anyone can do it - just get on and hang on. If you fall off, it is important to get straight back on. I read that in a book.
2 That looks like a great place to camp. It's near the water, and the swampy ground will be nice and soft. It won't rain tonight because it's summer.
3 Having more money and stuff will make you happy.
4 For those who remember getting the strap or being canned at school, the line "this will hurt me more than it hurts you" will always resonant as being very bad advice.
5 Be wary when told: If you want my advice, because I am always right, the blame must fall to others and you are one of those others, so accept and take responsibilities for my mistakes.
6 The water looks lovely and warm. I suggest you go in first because I am still checking the horizon for sharks.
7 A small controlled explosion will shift that rock and it will not hit the house.
8 I can reach that branch if you just hold the ladder while I climb up.
9 No, you don't need to wear a seatbelt because no government can tell us what we can or can't do. That is an individual right.
10 Never shift a piano during the small hours while wearing a wedding dress. This may damage both the garment and your marriage. If you are doing this then please stop - right now.
Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician and satirista who gives the very best bad advice even when it is not requested.