Life online can be something of an obstacle course – I know what I want, I’ve found the right web-page, and now all I have to do is dodge the adverts, the animated gifs, the sly popup windows, and then, just when I think I’m there: clickbait.
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Not interesting clickbait, not something I want to look at, but clumsy coarse rubbish on the menu. A digital dietary option that I know will be high in polyunsaturated facts. I know it’s digital junk-food because it follows the standard form that says clickbait, but eat me anyway.
It’s a pattern and in a moment of former-programmer irritation I started designing a search formula to automatically track and net cheap clickbait. So, the underlying design of the clickbait headline goes something like this:
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1: Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait
First there’s a number, certainly greater than one, generally more than two. Really, three is a good basic starter, four if absolutely necessary, whilst five is a perfect choice. Going on upwards, six through nine are bearable, ten is another perfect number, eleven just wrong and twelve has such a deep resonance that it’s beyond perfect. Thirteen is an absolutely no-no, unless this is Halloween clickbait – thirteen ways to pretend there’s no-one home when the trick-or-treat mob arrives.
2: Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait
Secondly there is a standard tag such as things or ways, perhaps something more adventurous like styles or destinations, ideally augmented with a well-chosen modifier like perfect or great. Now the pattern is coming together – five great ways…
3: Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait
Thirdly there is a basic grammatical link like to or for, leading into the necessary verb, which can be just about anything, but again there are some stock favourites like get or make, perhaps find or save, but I’m going to go with something a bit more punchy: roast. Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait – Yes, bland is fine for the clickbait pattern, but for the wildest, most dishonest clickbait the verb wants a bit more pop. You can probably do a search for it along the lines of ten ways to make your clickbait sparkle.
4: Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait
Finally, you need that eye-catching topic. It can be anything from a single word to a detailed phrase, but shorter is better, and there are clear winners to choose from. Number one is sex. So, twelve rules for perfect sex – clickbait dream. Money is another good one, five ways to be a millionaire. Just feel that mouse movement. And then food, clothes, cars… really, it doesn’t matter, just so long as it gets attention.
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So, there you have it, Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait.
Of course, when you click the link, the destination page probably barely mentions clickbait, certainly not live clickbait, and might not bother to offer the promised five distinct points. You can forget learning how to roast, boil or fry it, or not until you’ve clicked past a dozen pages crammed with adverts, because that is the point. After all, full-fat fried, or lean and roasted, the clickbait is only there to expose you to advertising.
By the way, would you like to buy my book?
Or a handy aerosol pesticide, guaranteed to kill one hundred percent of all clickbait. Only four-ninety-nine a bottle.
I could offer you a link to Thirteen Ways To Permanently Eradicate Clickbait, but it would be a total sham. There’s a reason for that pattern – it works. Even when you recognise it, clickbait is like chocolate cake – you know it’s bad for you, it can be resisted, but it takes an effort of will. Let’s face it, long before the internet was at the end of a list of Ten Really Useful Applications For Computers, newspapers and magazines had been drawing in readers with a promise of Ten Ways To Have A Bigger (insert sex-related term here).
By the way, did I mention buying my book? Five Killer Runes to Save You From the Demons as you read Hell of a Deal.