Titling is one of the most difficult things to master as a content creator. Titles are the very first things people see…sometimes it’s the only thing they see. People don’t have unlimited time nor energy. Everything on the Internet, on TV and with your own life is competing for your attention.
It’s (almost) an even playing field. What do you pick–the newest and cutest cat video or the latest Source Gaming article? Did you choose to binge watch a top 10 list on Watch Mojo, or watch a documentary?
Since you, the audience member, don’t have unlimited time, titling is super important. Content creators need to sell their piece in less than 50 characters. They need to: 1. Tell you what the content is about. 2. Make you click on it. In that way, every title ever made is “clickbait”…unless there’s a person out there that writes offensives titles in order to deter people from reading their content.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s shitty titles or inaccurate titles. There are titles that are intentionally misleading or content that is purposely broken apart for the sole purpose of maximizing advertising revenue. Some sites report something being confirmed in the title, even if the developer said they were just “considering” it because the former is a far easier sell.
For me, the term “clickbait” refers to a very particular type of content. It’s a type of content that is hollowed out, and has no real value. It’s the throwaway article or video that could’ve been explained in 140 characters…or 0. It’s the type of title that gets a person’s hopes up only to leave them devastated at the end. Clickbait typically leaves a sense of remorse among the reader/viewer. It’s intentionally misleading to drive up profit.
I find writing rewarding and it destresses me. I’m not driven by profit. If I was, then I would’ve added advertisements to the site a long time ago. We run a Patreon, but it’s completely optional and the money is invested back into the site.
…At the same time, I would by lying if I said I don’t care if people don’t read what I wrote. I put a lot of effort into everything I write…most of the stuff on Source Gaming has been original research. It’s extremely time consuming because we fact check. For me, I’d rather have someone disagree with what I said then to completely ignore it.
Lastly, clickbait shouldn’t be used to describe articles that you disagree with. Perhaps the best example of this is Omni’s video, Why Smash 4 Will Die. It’s a video that rants about the community’s inability to come together. Many people called the video “clickbait”, but personally, I do not think it is. The title accurately reflects the content that is in the video. Omni rants about why he thinks Smash for Wii U’s competitive scene is hurting itself. It’s a provocative title, and one that Omni probably chose because he wanted people to hear his message.
A lot of people jumped on me saying that, “Bayonetta Wasn’t the Only Thing Updated…” was clickbait. I still believe that it wasn’t clickbait…it was just a provocative title. Bayonetta wasn’t the only thing updated…I didn’t lie with that title and I don’t think I misled anyone. The title was created in order to pique interest. I wanted your eyeballs. Compile paths being updated sounds really boring and even if I had explained it within the article (like I did in the article)…having, “Compile Paths Updated in 1.1.6” as the title wouldn’t even give me the chance to explain it to half of you guys as no one would read it. The ones who deemed the article “clickbait” likely assumed the other changes were character-related. However, patches deal with much more than just balance and bugs. And anybody who read this article would now know this. This article gives the reader information about the game and its coding that is relatively unknown to much of the community. This is why I would argue that the article has value and thus would not fall under the umbrella of “clickbait”.
All in all, clickbait refers to a very specific kind of article. Titling is something that is super important and very difficult to do. We are all competing for your attention, so choose wisely.