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Clickbait is a growing problem, and it’s one that could spiral out of control unless people start seeing through the bogus headlines an increasing number of websites are using to get traffic. It’s time for us to take a stand. It’s time to share examples of clickbait with each other. For all our sakes.

Calamitous Clickbait Collusion

We want to know, What Is The Worst Clickbait You Have Ever Seen? This is a simple question which gives every single one of you reading this the chance to call out the worst offenders when it comes to clickbait. And if you’re not sure what clickbait is, then read our first look at ClickHole from The Onion Don't Tear Up On Clickbait -- Cull It With ClickHole From The Onion [Weird & Wonderful Web] Don't Tear Up On Clickbait -- Cull It With ClickHole From The Onion [Weird & Wonderful Web] You will have clicked on clickbait at some point, whether or not you're aware of having done so. The practice has recently evolved into something much more insidious and annoying. Enter ClickHole. Read More before coming back here to take part in the discussion.

You may have noticed a strange phenomenon growing on the Web of late. Where once stood headlines concisely summing up what an article is about now stands clickbait designed to get you to click on an article This Painfully Ordinary Chrome Plugin Is Probably Slightly Less Boring Than Working This Painfully Ordinary Chrome Plugin Is Probably Slightly Less Boring Than Working Sick of sites that share someone else's content and give it a linkbait headline? The Downworthy Chrome Plugin turns flagrantly linkbait headlines into something a bit more… Well, honest. Read More . Nothing more, nothing less.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re actually interested in the contents of the article, the aim with clickbait is to get you onto the website responsible. Because it’s the clicks that count, not the quality of writing or the intrinsic value of an article.

This horrible practice is growing wildly, as more and more websites realize it’s an easy way of getting traffic flowing their way. It means a viral video posted under a compelling clickbait headline stands more chance of being appreciated than a 1,000-word investigation into something that actually matters. Like poverty. Or terrorism. Or even technology.

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We hate clickbait, and we hope you do too. Which brings us to this week’s We Ask You, which has us asking you to point in the direction of the worst examples of clickbait you have ever seen.

Websites notorious for posting clickbait headlines are Upworthy Upworthy Isn't As Awful As You May Think [Opinion] Upworthy Isn't As Awful As You May Think [Opinion] Upworthy has got a lot of hate as a "clickbaity", sensationalist website that is out to steal content and promote itself. Is it pure evil in Internet form or does it deserve some credit? Read More , BuzzFeed, ViralNova, The Huffington Post, and The Blaze. But they’re far from alone. We want specific headlines which appalled you for the way they’re fooling people into clicking through to a website using hyperbole and histrionics.

Have Your Say

All comments will be read and most will be replied to, before a follow-up post is published containing the We Ask You ResultsOne reader will even win Comment Of The Week, which will be included in the follow-up post!

We Ask You is a column dedicated to learning the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Shawe Ewahs via Flickr

  1. BOB THE ONION MAN
    November 18, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Find Out Why This Fresh Tomato is Orbiting in Space at 4.2 Miles A Second.

  2. jaiharley
    August 18, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    What is worse than click bait is when you get you to a website like scribol that drag you across 20 additional clicks to find out one simple thing "the boy got to keep the dog". All these lists, that apparently are too complicated to actually list on a single page, but instead require you to click through 50 pages. I usually give up by page 3 and never get to see the one image that I was interested in knowing about. It is so frustrating, that I actually think things of this nature contribute to world insanity....why so many people are snapping. Seriously!

    I have however found a solution and that's to get the key names and google it and the same "story" is told by 100 other sites, some simply as text which I like...because I'm literate and do not need to click through 20 useless pictures with one sentence below to eventually find out "the boy got to keep the dog". [eye roll]

  3. SortingHat
    April 10, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Don't worry it's just capitalism at it's last defense barrier which it too will collapse. They are failing at controlling Americans so the big corporations last ditch effort is control over the web till only one or two companies are left that own everything else and control it tightly like a military base.

  4. Knewel
    December 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Um... THIS website is clickbait!! Get with it, people!!

  5. Terry Saunders
    October 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    The entire site of http://www.bgr.com

  6. xXToYeDXx
    September 26, 2014 at 6:21 am

    I just came across one at tech times with the headline "3 Android L Features Google fans likely don't even know about ". The article lists the 3 features as ART Runtime, Google fit and Android on non smartphone hardware. None of these are secrets and have been known since Google I/O. The article was posted yesterday, the 25th of September.

  7. Swaminathan Venkatesh
    June 19, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    "This University Beat 6 IITs in Asian Ranking
    A Governor Says He's not hurt by Call to Quit
    This company is launching a low cost smartphone
    This actress reveals she was sexually molested as a child"

    These are today's "headlines" from ndtv.com & timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 2 of the most respected (really!) news media houses in our country. Especially NDTV, it is the longest running non-governmental news house. They started doing this about 6 months back, I have made a conscious decision not to click any of these "stories" however important they sound.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Ugh, those headlines suck. They're clearly trying to jump on the clickbait bandwagon, but all the headlines employ the same keep it vague mentality that people see through before too long. Thank you for refusing to be suckered in. We need more people like yourself!

  8. Peter F
    June 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    If something seems to good to be true it usually is. These adverts with the "See how one man made $$$'s in his back room" or "Health insurance companies HATE this new trick" or anything with a Kardashian on it are a real turn off. (To this day I do not know what a kardashian is).
    Growing up with computers I was always told to keep an eye out and stay away from banner adverts as they could be malicious.
    I'll admit I have caught myself hovering the mouse over an article and very nearly pressing the link before stopping myself for being so stupid.
    I'm sure I'm missing out on some very important information or life changing "secret" but they all read like pyramid schemes and scams to me.
    Maybe I'm super cynical, but everyone of these adverts seem like a scam with nothing viruses behind to ruin my day.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      A Kasrdashian is an evil demon to be avoided at all costs. They spend your money, bully you into getting married, and generally do evil deeds. Usually on TV.

      Adverts are a different kind of clickbait than we were thinking of, but they completely count. The irony is that you would never see these crappy ads if you let cookies do their job.

    • Peter F
      June 20, 2014 at 9:06 am

      My point about the adverts was that they disguise themselves as reports/articles. I'm not sure how cookies would help in my example as the ones I see are always presented as "Trending articles" at the bottom of a webpage and are usually offer a mixture of weight loss, secrets of a famous name, become a trader...etc (these were one from a well known site from this morning.

      The other ones are the "my mums best friends next door neighbour made $1000000 an hour....." that fill up comment sections on websites.

      Not seen many for ages but they do still pop up from time to time.

    • Dave P
      June 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Oh, I get you. Yes, they count as clickbait, but strangely I've never really thought about them as such. I guess we expect advertisers to use such dirty tricks, but it's when supposedly respectable publications do it too that it starts to grate. At least for me.

  9. xgod
    June 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    The content I am about to discuss is about adult websites and pron. I will keep it as clean as possible, for a family audience.

    The worst click-bait a mature, responsible adult can inadvertently come into contact with is on adult websites. There are millions of sites out there that have promises of free content, only to have an intro page that has in-line text advertisements disguised as "ENTER HERE" or "CONTINUE TO *******"...

    These look like the entry points for the website you are trying to access, but are actually popup launching, key-logging, spam-attack links that take you to PAY-TO-ENTER sites or -worse- sites that are mocked up to look like your intended destination, but are filled with endless image links for even more popups and spam sites.

    This is true of the video hosting sites which show a video you are likely to click - sometimes even with an animated gif preview - that is yet another bad link. Some of the video thumbnail galleries are nothing more than endless thumbnails of spam links.

    For the adult connoisseur seeking his favorite entertainment or something fresh he has not gotten bored with, these click scams really harm the integrity of the websites that host real and non-spam entertainment.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Kudos for bring adult websites into the conversation, AND for keeping it family friendly.

      You're absolutely right. Those website prey on the fact that people, generally men, will click on anything that looks too good to be true when they're in that kind of mood.

  10. Xoandre
    June 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    There are countless facebook games that advertise with women in bikinis or on-the-edge-of-adult-content imagery, teasing that the game is only suitable for players 18+. These are some of the worst click-bait. I have only fallen for one once, and that was a now-defunct game called Evony. Evony promised action and adventure and pretty images to look at (especially for guys) but was just another world ward scenario game set in medieval times.

    The reason those ads are 18+ is because they have in-game purchasing. Excessively expensive in-game purchasing that is required to keep up with what I must assume are MILLIONAIRES playing the game with every upgrade imaginable (they spent over $500 per day) to conquer the game world.

    These ads persist on facebook for games that are lame and boring and tedious - and yet - people still spend hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars on imaginary items that have no value outside of the game server, which will eventually shut down and DELETE all the money you invested in the game coins.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Oh, those types of ads are shockingly bad. I usually stick to the belief that the worse the ad the worse the final product. I would say Evony proves that.

  11. GraveDigger27
    June 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Clickbait? Any site that makes you click multiple times to read any article. It's becoming the norm on LOTS of sites to do reviews or comparisons on hardware, software or anything else by creating lists (I'm looking at YOU CNet...) Want to know the top laptop recommendations? Prepare to click on 11 pages of pictures.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Sheesh, I hadn't even thought about that kind of clickbait. I generally cannot be bothered to click through slideshows. Let me view it on one page, as Mashable does, or lose me as a reader.

  12. dragonmouth
    June 19, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Why should the Internet be immune? Clickbait is nothing more than checkout counter tabloids updated for modern technology. The media has been sucking us in with sensational headlines for decades, if not centuries.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:23 am

      The Internet has the power to reject clickbait, which, as you rightly say, is tabloid headlines for the digital age. The problem is as it grows more popular we're all going to have to use it to compete. So MUO may one day resort to clickbait. Sad, but true.

    • dragonmouth
      June 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

      That is called "progress", Dave. :P

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

      NOOOOOO. If that's the case I'm becoming Amish.

    • dragonmouth
      June 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

      That should be fun to watch. :-)

  13. Bill
    June 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

    The irony. It burns.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Wait, you think this is clickbait? How is it?

      The title and lede are accurate representations of what's in the article. There is no vagueness, no "Wow, you need to read this" hyperbole. This isn't clickbait by any stretch of the imagination.

  14. Andrei
    June 19, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I second that, anything from unworthy and even buzzfeed.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

      "Unworthy" I like it :)

  15. Rob B
    June 19, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Anything by Upworthy is the worst Clickbait, others pale in comparison

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Specific examples? We want to create a list that totally won't be clickbait ;)

    • Rob B
      June 19, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      They used to be very formulaic as regards their titles -

      1. x happened to y, you:
      (a. will be amazed at, b. won't believe, or c. will be stunned by, etc.)
      what happened next.

      2. Watch this:
      (a. to learn, b.to find out c. to discover, d. to see, etc)
      (a. what happened next, b. an amazing fact about c. how you can be better at, d. what went horribly wrong with, etc.)
      this topic

      I'm happy to see they are less obvious these days, they seem to have discovered keywords and variety a bit.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      I guess progress is good. Still clickbait though! Thanks for expanding on your original comment :)

  16. Chris
    June 19, 2014 at 1:45 am

    The 'news' website news.com.au must be the worst. Current headlines include "Mummy blogger war breaks out", "Why the whole world is furious at us", "Where they want you to run red lights" and "The phone everyone’s talking about". ClickHole could learn a thing or two from those guys.

    • Dave P
      June 19, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Geez, they all count and no mistake. I especially hate the last one. Before clickbait reared its ugly head that would have been, "The Galaxy S5: The Phone Everybody Is Talking About". I miss those days.

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