What better way to start a blog post about click-bait than by creating one? The title of this post is a lie, of course. A click-bait title is melodramatic, sensational, excessive, and shocking. It draws on your guilt or your sense of disbelief. “That cannot be,” you think, but you mouse click just to be certain.
Before I continue with the meat of my article, I want to share a list of other click-bait titles that you may find amusing. Laughter may ease whatever disappointment you may be feeling right now that I have tricked you into reading this story.
I used a fun “Link Bait Title Generator” set up to include the word “genealogy” that resulted in some of the following mock titles. I have added asterisks to some titles to keep them PG-13.
–The Top 43 Genealogy Blog Titles I Hope To Never See Used–
1. The Connection between Genealogy and S*x.
2. 10 Ways Genealogy Can Help You Live To 100.
3. Guns Don’t Kill People — Genealogy Kills People.
4. 10 ways Genealogy Can S*ck The Life Out of You.
5. The Most Boring Article About Genealogy You’ll Ever Read.
6. Why Genealogy S*cks.
7. 8 Reasons Genealogy Will Change the Way You Think About Everything.
8. The Most Incredible Article about Genealogy You’ll Ever Read
9. How Genealogy is Destroying America.
10. 11 Ways Investing in Genealogy Can Make You a Millionaire
11. Why You Should Forget Everything you Learned about Genealogy.
12. The Rise of Genealogy and How to Make it Stop.
13. 13 Amazing Facts about Genealogy.
14. 8 Deadly Uses for Genealogy.
15. A Genealogist Dies Every Minute You Don’t Read This Article.
16. 9 Reasons you can Blame the Recession on Genealogy.
17. 101 Unusual Uses of Genealogy.
18. Why you Should Give Up S*x and Devote your Life to Genealogy.
19. 12 Reasons Genealogy is the End of the World As We Know It.
20. 8 Things the Media Hasn’t Told you About Genealogy.
21. What this Genealogist Did Is Genius.
22. 8 Unbelievable Things You Never Knew about Genealogy.
23. 7 Things Lady Gaga Has in Common with Genealogy.
24. 6 Reasons To Be Addicted to Genealogy.
To this list I add a few more [plagarizing the Buzzfeed & Upworthy Clickbait Generator], and the Upworthy Generator (its a Parody).
25. The Top 10 Hottest Genealogists.
26. New Program lets you Harvest a family tree Automatically without Disturbing Genealogists.
27. 21 Painfully Real Struggles for Everyone with Bloated Family Trees
28. 24+ Brilliant Surnames You Should Add to Your Family Tree
29. 27 Astonishing Genealogy Things That Can Never Be Unseen Again
30. 31 Things Every Genealogist Will Understand
31. LEGO Creates Plastic Anti-Genealogy Slippers to end Future Years of Horrible Pain.
32. 13 Things to Remember When you love a Genealogist Who Has Research Depression.
33. Harvard psychologists have been studying what it takes to raise ‘good’ genealogists. Here are 6 Tips.
34. That Moment When a Genealogist Refuses to Research.
35. I Thought my Genealogy was a Disaster. But Then I Saw This Revolutionary One Minute Video.
36. What the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About Genealogy
37. My Stomach Sank After Hearing These Two Genealogy Words.
38. You Have to Hear the Awe-inspiring Three Sentences This Blind Genealogist Wrote.
39. What Happens When One Unknown Genealogist Gets Real About the Biggest Problem in America.
40. Here is What Happens when a High Schooler Talks about the Genealogist in the Room.
41. Headless Genealogist in T*pless Bar
42. Ten of the Most Awkward Genealogy Photographs You Will Ever See
43. Young Genealogists See a Paper Fan Chart for the First Time–Can You Believe What they Do?
Okay. Enough already. I know you are thinking it. All right. Enough.
Now to my actual topic–Click-bait aka link-bait. Is this technique of using emotionally charged and often misleading titles ethical productive (‘genius’ in a sense) to use to bring visitors to your blog. Or rather is this practice exploitative, tabloid journalism at its finest? Is it still considered “click-bait” if the story actually has something to do with the title, or only if it’s entirely different?
Have you ever used a “click-bait” style in your blog titles? Did you get positive results (lots of visitors), an increase in comments, or whatever your goal was for using it?
I confess. I have used a minor version of click-bait, but only a few times, when I felt that it fit the story I was writing. Most of my titles are probably considered ho-hum, stick-to-the-facts ones. I include the person or place I’ve researched, add an even more boring dates, and voila I’m ready to roll. But if I use a dramatic title, you are going to be reading about that topic when you click. I won’t offer you an ax-murderer and instead give you a story about making a chicken dinner from scratch.
My glaring exceptions to title boredom are listed here, with an explanation for my shameless titles:
The Darker Side of Manchester NH’s Pine Island Park — Pine Island Park was a lovely amusement park that was open from 1902-1963. Many adults who grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire still have fond memories of us. When I was researching this park, I happened to find many stories about deaths and accidents in connection with the location. I decided to share the ‘darker’ stories. I must admit this story resulted in the greatest number of clicks on my blog in a single day.
Lebanon New Hampshire’s “Man Who Survived With A Hole in His Head”: Phineas P. Gage (1823-1860)
I realize I could have made the title: “Lebanon NH Man with Head Injury, etc”. but I didn’t. It was a very unusual event, and even today medical practitioners are amazed that he lived. It wasn’t really just click bait. I actually wrote about the topic and added some valuable Gage genealogy.
Gilmanton New Hampshire Serial Killer: Herman Webster Mudgett (1861-1896)
At the time I wrote this back in 2006, I thought the title was ultra-dramatic. Since then several books and now a recent movie have been released with much murkier click-bait titles such as “Devil in the White City,” “Depraved,” “Inside the Murder Castle,” etc.
New Hampshire Epitaph: Killed With An Axe By An Insane Brother
Yes, I know, I could have just called it “Keeping Murder in the Family,” or “Spaulding Family Secrets,” but I didn’t. The words are on an epitaph that several people asked me to research. So I did and I feel justified with the dramatic title.
To recap: I hope you enjoyed these examples of click-bait titles for genealogy blogs. I would love your comments on whether you have you ever used a sensational title to spice up a blog post. Share it here with a link to it, and why (or why not) you felt the title was important to the story. I also hope that my regular readers forgive me. I have spent months writing about young men and women who died during WWI, and to take a small break, I thought I would make living people die from laughter instead (and figuratively).
The Atlantic: It’s Everywhere, the Clickbait
The Daily Beast: ANNOYANCES–Saving Us From Ourselves: The Anti-Clickbait Movement