Any Click’s a Good Click?

Few things online frustrate me more than clicking a link and then landing on a page I already saw–ad nauseam–because they just relabeled the link, or turned out to be some list that may or may not include the link for what I wanted in the first place–if I could find it.

Because truth is, the text that a link is connected to doesn’t have to have anything to do with where the actual link links (victims of “accidental child porn” can attest to that). Pay to click and all that. Great for advertisers (they think even if 99 out of 100 people go away angry, the 100th might just bite, and that’s enough), outright aggravating for folks with limited connectivity.

Another thing that irks me is the “race to the bottom” going on with pay rates for articles. Doing a 1,000-word article off the top of your head, running a spell check, and reading it over once or twice to check that it makes sense takes at least forty minutes–realistically closer to two hours (these posts take me over an hour to write, and I usually end up editing them a few days later for typos I didn’t see when I wrote them), depending on how fast you can type. Researching a topic you can’t write about off the top of your head takes longer. So assuming $5/hour, which isn’t even minimum wage, an article should be making it’s author at least $10, $25 if you want to make a living at it. But the going rate is often less than $5/hour. Word-gererators (not fair to call them “authors”) respond by writing bulleted lists instead of true articles, not bothering with revisions, and even omitting the time to do a single spell/grammar check. If they want to make minimum wage doing this, they can’t spend more than 20 minutes per so-called article. Then the “publisher” slaps it on a web page with a stock photo that contributes nothing to the story, a few breaks in the flow for ads and links to other stories on the site (or even the same story–they can’t bother to write a few lines to check that the story they’re plugging isn’t the same story the reader’s looking at) to make it look bigger, or even get it big enough to justify a second page, because the more pages the real content takes up, the more opportunities to throw ads at the reader.

It’s all a matter of getting the most ads in front of the reader with the least effort (and money) expended on actual content.

But the most egregious transgression of all is when a “news” source decides that click counts are worth more than fact-checking. What may be a prime example seems to have come forth in the Tallahassee Democrat, a Gannett paper in Florida that’s calling for a Constitutional Amendment to ban all handguns and “assault weapons” (excepting Government entities such as police and military, of course). The debate isn’t about whether columnist Gerald Ensley’s words reflect true idiocy or just Statist brainwashing, but whether his motive was to state the case that he believed or the one that would generate the most clicks. Since Gannett’s restructuring plan places “passion topics” that generate more clicks over in-depth factual reporting (you know, the stuff newspapers–web or print–are supposed to be generating so we don’t confuse them with the fiction coming out of Hollywood).

What’s really telling is that, for all the clicks they want their stories to get, they don’t really want to hear from their public. I was going to give them a piece of my mind for this, but–surprise, surprise–while they have contact emails for shareholders, perspective employees, and perspective suppliers, they offer no contact emails for the general public. Oh, the hypocrisy. They really don’t want to know about what their readers think.

Apparently Gannett went through a round of layoffs they called a “restructuring plan.” Wonder why?Maybe because they’re trying to hang on to the label “newspaper” without actually delivering any news? How’s that working?

If America’s got any sense left, Gannett deserves another round of layoffs (apologies to the real journalists getting Gannett paychecks), if they’re going to demote themselves from the Fourth Estate to supermarket tabloids. If we aren’t willing to rise up against click-baiting, the whole “net neutrality” argument is going to become a moot point. Who’s going to pay to get on the World Wide Ad?

Makes fax ads sound like a bargain.

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