from the put-click-bait-in-the-title dept.
Ben Smith of Buzzfeed recently wrote that his site doesn’t traffic in “click bait” because the term applies to “tempting, vacuous ‘curiosity gap’ headlines” that mislead readers. But in an industry riddled with plagiarism, civil insensitivities and “hot takes,” “click bait” is still the worst insult you can hurl at a publication. Looking at the history of journalism, sensationalist teases have always been with us. In the past, the city newspaper version of click bait was the "extra" issued every hour or two. "Click bait takes it farther, or rather, faster," says Mark Bauerlein. "It’s not that all the content has degenerated. It’s that the delivery has sped up and the content can be blasted widely on the Internet." Gloria Mark, a professor specializing in human-computer interactions at the University of California, Irvine, says that click bait as a design element is a natural evolution, and consequence, of the way the Internet affects our flow of attention. "Many argue that click bait is not new, as newspapers have used enticing headlines to lure readers since the 19th century. What is new, however, is the combination of click bait with the design of hypermedia that leads us down cognitive paths that make it hard to find our way back to the original, intended task," says Mark. "It is part of the larger grand challenge we face in managing our focus of attention amid the sheer volume of digital information available."
Baratunde Thurston says that one good thing about click bait is that it has inspired a new arena for humor. "Over a year ago, my company hosted a “Comedy Hack Day" built around humor, and one team created a satirical site called Clickstrbait to lampoon this silly practice. Since then The Onion has gone further, successfully launching ClickHole.com, which parodies (and monetizes) the click bait phenomenon with articles like '6 Sunsets That Would Be More Peaceful If It Weren't For Your Loudly Growling Stomach.'" If Thurston is right then the only thing that will defeat click bait overuse is time. "Until then, at least we have jokes."