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Clickbait is worse than you imagine! Plus 23 other reasons why aggregated content is horrible!

1. Clickbait refers to internet articles and other content which have flashy titles intended to lure readers to click through their links. The term is pejorative and implies an inferior and unoriginal quality of content, coupled with an excess of advertisements surrounding the content or limiting access to the content.

2. The term "clickbait" has only been around for about a year, according to Google Trends, with the first online mention occurring in July 2013 and peak popularity in August 2014. Clickbait itself has existed in various forms for much longer, such as Cracked.com photoplasty 'articles,' Top Ten lists like those presented on The Late Show by David Letterman, and lifehacking or celebrity gossip trivia articles in women's magazines.

3. Clickbait consists of content which is aggregated, not curated. This means that usually it was sourced through keywords run through a sorting and search algorithm, rather than a human author who actively hand-selected the content for its quality and relevance.

4. Clickbait is frequently presented without commentary or context from the site which aggregates it; this means that clickbait frequently lacks any true original content.

5. Clickbait articles are oriented toward achieving maximum search engine hits and click-through actions. Sometimes there will be a large pop-up banner advertisement or video ad which the reader must read or wait through, in order to read the last two items on the list. The lists themselves tend to be divided across as many discrete pages as possible, forcing the reader to also face the most peripheral sidebar advertisements possible. This earns more ad revenue for the site than would be earned if all the items were condensed to a single page. Since curated content tends to involve long paragraphs of text which don't break smoothly into multiple pages, clickbait also generally gains more ad revenue than long articles of info-dense high quality content.

6. Clickbait lists often repeat themselves or feature the same item or external link twice, phrased differently each time.

7. Clickbait titles are deceptive, with the actual content sometimes being completely unrelated to the title other than by a single keyword in common. An article about "Top 6 dangers in nursing homes" could actually contain a description of six common infectious diseases, one of which may have a greater prevalence among nursing home patients. Titles will usually contain keywords implying relevance to recent popular topics, fads, or significant sources of fear and anxiety for the general population.

8. The North American opossum is a widely misunderstood marsupial which receives disproportionate blame for communicable diseases among feral urban animals, despite the rarity of an opossum actually catching rabies.

9. Lists on clickbait websites tend to be filled with redundant items, but since they are divided across page breaks, this might not be immediately noticeable, even if one item is basically just a paraphrase of an earlier item.

10. Aggregated art is usually given with no link back to its creator's own website, which deprives artists of ad revenue that would rightfully belong to them. Sometimes all credit and source citation is left of aggregated art lists. Some aggregation sites even go as far as removing artist and author watermarks from original content. Many original content creators have made it clear that their content is not to be aggregated or reproduced by third parties, but aggregators generally disregard these requests: often, copyright law allows the aggregation to occur, and when the law doesn't protect the aggregator, the artists themselves often cannot financially afford to pursue litigation.

11. Clickbait information often comes without source citations, and the information itself is derived indiscriminately from both reputable and disreputable sources. This means that sometimes you can follow click-through links on a clickbait article and discover that a "fun fact" was sourced from another clickbait article, which itself obtained it from yet another clickbait article, which obtained it from somebody's personal opinion blog. It is not unheard-of for clickbait sites to recursively link between each other in ways which make original sources impossible to determine, if they ever existed in the first place.

12. Clickbait is an increasingly detested and contested phenomenon which perpetuates itself through opinion pieces and sites which aggregate opinions about internet phenomena: there are countless articles about the evils of clickbait, and many of these articles are themselves clickbait. Some of these clickbait articles even protest the existence of clickbait articles about clickbait. Recursive pseudo-journalism boggles the mind.

13. Clickbait articles usually include several common knowledge items which add nothing useful to an already-useless information format.

14. Clickbait lists sometimes do not actually include as many items as their titles profess to include. Sometimes the last 'item' on the list will be a link to yet another clickbait article, with a heading like "10 More reasons to distrust your dentist!"

15. For the other 8 items on this list, go read Curated and Aggregated Content! CONSUME. OBEY. Worship a smiling God.


Iron Noder Challenge 2014, 3/30

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