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Clickbait is everywhere. In emails from friends. On Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. On message boards, forums, and chatrooms. You will have clicked on clickbait at some point, whether or not you’re aware of having done so.
It isn’t a new phenomenon; digital publishers have always needed people clicking through to their websites in order to grow and make money. But the practice has recently evolved into something much more insidious and annoying.
When something becomes this commonplace, it’s ripe for parody. And that’s the exact treatment currently being meted out to clickbait thanks to ClickHole.
What Is Clickbait?
Clickbait is any online content designed purely to persuade you to click through to a website. It comes in various shapes and sizes, from controversial op-eds to pointless lists, from videos containing “must-see!” moments to multiple choice quizzes testing basic motor skills.
The two common threads running through all forms of clickbait are a) vague headlines designed to capture your imagination, forcing you to click, and b) pointless content that utterly fails to deliver on what the title promised.
This lethal combination means clickbait continues to succeed despite continually disappointing those being suckered in by it. Which, if the numbers tell us anything, is everyone and their mother. And dog. And cat. And goldfish too.
What Is ClickHole?
ClickHole is a new offering from the same people behind The Onion, one of a handful of spoof news sites that have been parodying OTT media coverage for decades. With ClickHole the team has turned its attention to clickbait and the websites responsible for spreading this viral nonsense.
One of the first posts on the site was a mission statement explaining the aim of ClickHole. Which is to produce “the most clickable, irresistibly shareable content anywhere on the internet.” A touch of hyperbole? Of course, but then that’s exactly what the websites that inspired ClickHole are guilty of doing every single day.
Heading Down The ClickHole
Content on ClickHole is divided into five different sections, each of which plays up to the various clickbait tropes which are starting to dominate the Web. We hope everybody learns to recognize obvious clickbait after viewing ClickHole’s parodies.
Videos contains viral videos, naturally. Such as This Video Seems Silly, But It Makes A Good Point and What This Adorable Little Girl Says Will Melt Your Heart.
Quizzes contains, wait, could it be quizzes? Such as Which Hungry Hungry Hippo Are You? and How Many Of These ‘Friends’ Episodes Have You Seen?
Blogs contains opinionated think pieces galore. Such as I’m Not Saying I Hope My Child Is Transgender, But I Would Hit It Out Of The Park and It’s Time To Publicly Execute Ronald McDonald.
Features contains anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. Such as a roundup on quotes titled Find Out What LeBron James, Bill Gates, And Neil deGrasse Tyson Have To Say.
These are all keenly observed, poking fun at the ludicrousness and pointlessness of clickbait content. As with news stories on The Onion, which are regularly posted to social networks as being real, clickbait content on ClickHole is likely to be mistaken for the real thing. And not just by ignorant idiots.
The Problem With ClickHole
ClickHole is a fantastic parody of the sites ruining the Web with vague headlines and content which always disappoints. The problem is that rather than fixing the issue, ClickHole may just be adding to the popularity of clickbait across the Web.
By parodying clickbait, ClickHole suggests this growing trend is here to stay. And if every website that isn’t currently employing such underhand tactics has to do so in order to compete with those that are, clickbait will ruin the Web for everyone on it. Including you.
ClickHole is extremely amusing and thoroughly entertaining. It gloriously mocks this trend that deserves nothing but our disrespect. Unfortunately, it may ultimately make the problem of clickbait worse. After all, while parodying clickbait, ClickHole stands to make serious money from all that traffic.
Is clickbait worthy of being parodied in this way? Is clickbait an insidious problem or just a novelty that will disappear as quickly as it arrived on the scene? Are you guilty of chasing the clickbait to its website of origin? Let us know what you think of clickbait and/or ClickHole in the comments section below.