I was wondering, for no reason whatsoever, if the process of panflation (where, for instance, the sizes of clothes and cups of coffee have tended to increase since the 70s) also affected the amount of funny conveyed by an article on Cracked.com, a sometimes funny site on the internet.
In recent years, a typical article title might be "5 Ways Explosions are Secretly Trying to Kill You". I wondered if the number of ways discussed in an article had changed in time, and had a vague, unconfirmed feeling that the number might be on the decrease.
Perl, as ever, came to the rescue, so I crawled all article and blog titles and extracted the article title and year of publication. I've ignored the more recent 'photoplasty' posts, because they're simply not funny (proven fact). I then swept through looking for single or double digit numbers in the titles, and did a plot:
The best fit to those points indeed shows a decline, of -1 (+- 0.2) things in a title per year. At that rate, by 2022 there's a chance that Cracked will publish articles on how there are "0 Ways Facebook has Stolen Your Powertools (and what to do about it)". I, for one, look forward to this bright future.
(Of course, this isn't really a linear trend, they instead seem to be bottoming out at 5 things, presumably so that they can fit the intro + two things on one page, and three on the next, and so serve up double the Ads and gain some information on engagement by tracking clicks to the second page.)