‘Linkbait’ is the New Bullshit
I’m a country boy, and the first thing I think of when someone mentions ‘bait’ is ‘trap’. That’s exactly what linkbait has become. The lure for a trap. Sensationalist headlines crafted for the sole purpose of luring readers into a story that is either devoid of truth or a story that contains a mere hint of truth.
Headlines like this: Google Funding Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Terrorist Groups
Note the question mark at the end of that headline. That question mark serves two purposes. It forces the reader to ask, ‘hmm, are they’? And it alleviates any journalistic responsibility on the part of the author. Now the author is free to simply question the plausibility of the headline rather than present citations and factual evidence. Mind-boggling leaps of imagination are now possible.
Matt Cutts Devours Babies?
Graywolf Embroiled in Bitter Controversy With Ted Leonsis?
Cubs Win The World Series?
There’s a price to be paid for baiting your readers. While the short-term goal of obtaining more links may be met, the long-term goal of gaining your readers’ trust is damaged.
I’ve noticed that the SEJ headline has been changed. At 1:53 PM CST TechMeme still carries the orginal headline.