TL,DR Feel free to scroll to the conclusion section and read only that.
Here's the reasons I think list questions are bad:
I think that they run afoul of the idle curiosity clause in the FAQ. I can't remember a single non-idle-curiosity list question. Of course, that said, I don't have any examples since you can't prove the negative.
They tend to generate poor content. Most of the content that they generate could be found on other sites, more suited to list delivery.
They generate content that this Q & A site is poorly formatted to deal with. We don't have table support and it doesn't seem like it's likely to magically show up. I've see it asked for here with zero response from SE itself. Without table support, list formatting can become quite the chore.
Here's a list of every single list question that I could find in the range of today going back to the first of the year.
- Which actor has portrayed the most distinct roles in the Star Trek universe?
- What were all the occasions where the Star Trek Captains have met each other?
- Who are all the characters to have touched The One Ring?
- Is there any use of Claytronics in Star Wars lore?
- What neutral planets existed at the time of the Rebellion? (this is a question I edited to make a non-list question, the original question and the comments are pertinent to this discussion)
- How many people who weren't superheroes did Batman reveal his identity to?
- What else did Pa Kent salvage from Jor-El's son's rocket?
- Where else do we see James T. Kirk, computer hacker extraordinnaire?
- What characteristics does Alpha/Beta wolf have in Twilight Series?
- Are there any other weapons designed using lightsaber technology?
- What powers does Galadriel have?
- Who knows the truth about Jon Snow's parentage (father & mother)
- Are there non-weapon items in the Star Wars universe based on lightsaber technology?
- What five creatures were sacrificed in Barb & J.C. Hendee's Sister of the Dead?
- Dresden Files, TV show vs Books
- How many alien women has Capt/Admiral Kirk slept with?
If I missed any, feel free to add them, but for now I'm going to call this our data set.
So: If we were to do totally away with lists, how would that affect the questions in this data set? How many fail the idle curiosity test? What other commonalities can we find?
Q1 : We have a lot of scope dancing, the OP spends more time limiting his question than asking it. We have a good answer, that's up-voted and we have a couple of also rans in the answer column. The OP admits its an idle question in the first sentence. It could have been phrased as a non-list question and still gotten the same response. Very few comments. Viewed 524.
Q2 : Again, huge effort limiting scope. Post improperly reopened by moderator instead of the normal five votes required. Few up-votes. One answer which may or may not be complete. 44 comments between the question and answer, plus however Keen deleted during version control. Again, sparked by another question, although not explicitly stated IC. Viewed 209.
Q3 : A perfect list question, concrete scope. Great answer and an additional answer. Only flaw is that it's an exact duplication of somebody else's content, although it is proper accredited. (It also must have been a stone cold bitch to make that table) Viewed 378.
Q4 : An example of the just-give-one-example question. Low votes, no answers (because the answer is "of course not" and everybody knows noes are a waste of your time.) Viewed 98.
Q5 : In which I erroneously edited the question and thus got reminded to make this post. Few comments, no answer. As originally worded, a ton of correct answers. Didn't have much of a chance to build up comment steam. Viewed 67.
Q6: Once again, lots of limiting of scope. One answer that is poorly researched and admitted to be incomplete. Low votes on question as well. Few comments. I won't make any guesses about OP's motivation. Viewed 223.
Q7 : No artificial scope limiting. No answers. A few comments. Low votes on question. Viewed 78.
Q8 : Scope limited by answerer to TOS, however it is another one example question, in which there could multiple correct answers. Answer could be straight copypasta from a wiki, who knows. Viewed 334.
Q9 : Here we have a question in which is phrased poorly, but where the OP wouldn't be helped by a list at all. He asks for one, but really wants an explanation on how a wolf gets to be in charge in Twilight. Viewed 151.
Q10 : Another fine example of the one example genre. Few comments. Couple of answers. Again, answer sourced directly from a wiki. Viewed 413.
Q11 : Asked like a list question, gets two good answers instead. This may not belong in this data set, but I added it as an edge case to be on the safe side. Viewed 839.
Q12 : Straight up list question in which we get one great answer and two other normal list responses. The great answer goes far above the OP's request, however. Viewed 451.
Q13 : High voted question, answers fall into the no trap. Also a one example question. Viewed 739.
Q14 : Great, well-sourced question; great, well-sourced answer. If every list question was like this one, I wouldn't have spent my day on this post. Viewed 66.
Q15 : List question, answered comprehensively. i.e. The kind of list question that could have been reformulated to get the same answer. Viewed 141.
Q16 : High voted question, also on the edge of the dataset. Sadly, answer is mostly copypasta of somebody else's work. Plus side, it is complete copypasta and it is nicely formated and the answerer did add a few outside sources in. Call it a wash. Viewed 378.
Q17 : The outside bound the other way, something everybody can see as unwanted content.
So... conclusions. There is a subset of these list questions that the community is already not voting up. I think the correlation is the idle curiosity metric. List questions also seem to invite a lot of copying from other sites. The gimme-one-example questions are really bad and should probably get nuked from orbit. I think that the restriction on list questions should probably be tightened to remove the subset that the community is already mostly ignoring