Time for me to indulge myself in a little rant about the increasing pervasiveness of what can best be termed click-bait, but first, since it is January 1, I’ll start with a bit of crowd sourcing by taking a quick look at the statistics to see which of my posts got the most views in 2014.
Here are the top 5
- Chopra’s new $1 Million Challenge – June 2014
- Proof that Zombies really do exist – April 2011
- Mormons: Don’t buy into the myth that raising kids in the church will benefit them … it won’t – March 2013
- Speaking in Tongues – The real story – July 2010
- “Massacre of Muslims in Burma” – Debunked – July 2012
Well there is a twist I did not expect, if I had fallen under a bus on New Years Eve on 1st Jan 2014, and had written nothing at all in 2014, then four of those five items would still be there.
The oddest one is the Speaking in Tongues posting from 2010 – over four years old now and still popular – and so perhaps I should at some point review and update it, but then that would potentially scupper the context for the comments … no perhaps better to simply repost an updated version if I ever did that.
I do know that if I entered specific words, and spent my time crafting titles that were essentially click bait and nothing more, I would indeed get lots of hits, but “hits” is not what I’m about, it never has been. Often the motivation for crafting click bait is to generate advertising revenue; pull people in by offering up stuff that will tickle the human mind and tap into our quite natural curiosity – “top 10 best sex positions, top 10 best ways to influence others, etc…”, lace with with a few popular search terms, and then watch the $$$ roll in. You can also be damn sure that the actual content often fails to deliver on the promise. If curious as to what I’m on about, well, so common example of this would be Upworthy and BuzzFeed.
As a bit of fun, The Onion has a parody variation of those … ClickHole. The nice twist here is that both Upworth and BuzzFed can at times parody the media, so ClickHole, being a parody of them, is now a parody of a parody.
Actually, this is not a complete picture, sometimes the motivation may not be about $$$, and might instead have a completely different driving force, for example to simply caress the ego by being popular, or promoting a specific agenda, religious, political, etc… These other variations may attract, not with honey, but by offering up some truly outrageous and controversial things.
So why do I blog?
Not for the advertising, I did give that a go a few years ago, but that lasted about a week, I soon realised that it was not what I was about, and it also resulted is some truly odd juxtapositions. I might, for example, blog about the revelations of the latest Catholic Church scandal, or rant about homeopathy being a scam, and then discover later that google AdSense was mining specific keywords, and offering up pro-Catholic ads or links to homeopathy vendors, and thus lead to a few WTF moments. That sort of stuff is of course fixable, but no, the conscious decision I made then was no ads and no sponsorship, just my words unhampered by any conflict of interest.
So how do I fund things?
I do have a couple of kindle books, that I plug … (warning, shameless book plug coming up)
Skeptical Bytes: How do we know what is really true? (priced at 77p or free on Kindle unlimited)
This is a book that promotes science and is described as follow: We swim within a sea of conflicting claims and questions – is evolution true or not, is climate change really happening, are ghosts real, does homoeopathy work, are religious claims valid, does prayer work, etc.. This list goes on and on and is almost endless. How can you work out what is actually truth when you are faced with any of these?
Unless you deploy a reliable methodology when tackling such questions, then you have no consistent means of getting to the right answer. This book describes that methodology.
Skeptical Bytes: Criticising Islam (proved at £1.02 and free on Kindle unlimited)
Islam claims to be both the fastest growing religion, and also asserts itself to be a religion of peace, yet almost each and every day we face a constant steam of news about human rights abuses committed in the name of Islam, and that includes numerous examples of Intolerance, Misogyny, Homophobia, violence and even murder, so what are the real facts here?
What is it that motivates people to behave in a truly abhorrent manner, what exactly is going on inside their heads? Can we or should we in fact deploy criticism against the ideas and beliefs that drive such actions, especially when the thinking is cherished as divine in origin and is truly believed to have been commanded by a god.
This book tackles these issues head-on, and starts off by examining the rather unique challenge faced by those that dare to criticise Islam, then moves on to argue that the term “Islam” is in reality a rather large umbrella that shelters a vast diversity of different conflicting thoughts, and is not in any way a single belief at all.
Those prices are low, and that is of course by choice, the goal there is not profit, but rather just enough to cover the basic costs of this site, and so for a price that is less than a cup of coffee, selling a couple of those each month is good enough.
Hint: buy a copy if the topic is of interest, and/or drop me an amazon review, it would indeed help to keep things ticking over.
So back to the question, why do I spend my time doing all this?
Basically I think of blogging as a tool, not just to reach out to others but to also reach into myself. It helps to focus my thinking on a specific topic, and also enables me to learn, not just by writing about something, but also by others offering feedback. People will of course not only offer positive support, but will also pop up and point out that something I’ve written is bullshit, and that also is of value because quite often they just might be right.
Do I ever censor?
Nope, not even the negative comments. Well, OK, apart from the rather obvious spam comments (people simply posting a link to a site that sells stuff), but I find that my spam filter automatically handles that.
The Law – I got sued for $3 million
Posting the things I do can potentially upset some, and it does, but so far I’ve only been sued once and that was for $3 million by a religious cult that wanted to have criticism purged. In the end it cost them $50,000 in legal fees, and cost me £8 in postage.
I have also recently been rather bizarrely asked to remove a link that pointed to a website. I followed up by making the observation that hyperlinks were the bread and butter of the Internet and asked why they wished a link to be removed. I’ve not heard back, so the link stays.
So anyway, as an experiment, and also for a bit of fun, I’ve put the word “sex” into the title of this posting, added a tantalising image, and have also tagged the posting with a few terms such as “nude”, “naked”, “raw”, “XXX” and “porn” (and I can justify doing that because I’ve just used them here in the actual text.
In a day or two I’ll look at the statistics and see if doing the above caused a spike. I predict it will, but then I just might be wrong about that.
Even if it does spike, its a once off, because that is not what I’m about.
How better to finish, than perhaps to offer a hat tip, and a nod of thanks to my readers, (all 3 of you), I do appreciate you stopping by and hope you find my postings to be of some value.
Update 2nd January
Do I see a spike in hits? Interestingly enough, no I don’t, but then that might perhaps be due to my not being very good at click-baiting, or perhaps because it was the 2nd January, international hangover day, or … well anyway, not a blip, it’s a negative result … so far (I do still wonder if that would change as the various search engines index it).