Tech Stuff Things That Suck

One Simple Overused Headline Trick Annoyed The World. What Happened Next Is Simply Dull

Besides the HR office inspirational-poster style of many Facebook posts, the number two irritant is the Upworthy-style schtick of the teaser headline.

Everyone loves a good cliffhanger. The future of whole seasons’ worth of TV series revolve around getting you to wonder about whether it was the Borg that killed JR. But this one is so discredited that even Upworthy felt obliged to not only stop, but make sure they could statistically prove it. In fact, in a quick-and-dirty search on Facebook I wasn’t able to come up with anything. Though there was this one from Huff Post.

Which is a simple paraphrase.

But what happened next was the Next Big Meme, the numbers racket. I’ve actually known about this trick for a long time — I even tried to get a whole financial web site redesigned around this One Simple Concept back in 2004. Here are some examples from FB.

The Tragedy of Salon

Salon.com has been one of my go-to news sites since the last century, but lately they’ve been picking up these dreadful habits and running with them. These examples were all gathered today.

First, the “I-can’t-believe-anybody-is-still-doing-this” what-happened-next meme, that even its inventor feels obliged to disavow:

This takes an otherwise-horrific story that combines the worst of anti-environmentalism with the worst of crony capitalism, and succeeds in trivializing it.

The numbers-game version of these stories plays out this way:

Turning what could have been hard-hitting stories into the political equivalent of yet another Vine about kittens. Our last example today takes the numbers game and adds a bit of titillation…

I’m on the verge of un-bookmarking salon.com. It’s bad enough how slow their mobile site is (have you tried it? Oy), but their race for eyeballs over a semblance of seriousness is about to send mine looking in another direction.

Tom
Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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