Congratulations, you just clicked on a clickbait article!

Today, we need a talk about how clickbait titles are both the cause of misinformation, and comment on how its damaging the community.

First, to the science. There is absolutely no doubt that clickbait titles work, and bring in thousands upon thousands of clicks for even small publications. Hence the dominance of Buzzfeed, and a slight shift in how national papers work as well. Have you seen the Independent recently? Their ‘net title would be this:

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Yet the actual title of the article on their website is more considered:

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The change is subtle, but important; angry posts tend to be shared more and drive more engagement, and the title was drafted very well.

The XR / IR community is doing the same as well. There has been so many articles which say ‘VR IS DEAD’ or ‘WHY VR WILL DOMINATE’ or ‘PALMER LUCKEY IS A TOOL, HERE ARE THIRTEEN REASONS WHY.’ They’re common ,and the narrative of a lot of VR in more mainstream media (I emphasise mainstream, not our local bubble) is that VR is simultaneously changing the world and about to die a horrible death.

The worst part is that people fall for this by just reading the titles and keep on browsing, or worse commenting. You see this most with articles like ‘HERE IS WHY VR WILL SUFFER’; by positing a question, a commenter can answer without reading the argument. And yes I know this is internet culture in a nutshell, but it bleeds into the VR community – causing heated debates over hollow statements.

In any case, we will always have articles with headlines drafted for clicks – that will never change, and are vital for the livelihood of many writers out there. What I am concerned about are titles which mislead people, or enforce a view which is not well substantiated – that there breeds misinformation, which no-one should stand for.

What are your thoughts?

Tom Ffiske
@thomasffiske_VR

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