Expert Thoughts

That Question Mark In Your Headline Isn’t Fooling Anyone

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More pedantic and insulting than “13 Things You Didn’t Know About…”

More than “…And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next”

More than “How One Tweet Perfectly Explains (complex topic)”

More than any of those, the most insidious headline tactic plaguing the online publishing world is the dreaded question mark. You know you’ve seen it. And now that I’ve pointed it out you’ll see it even more often, I’m guessing. “Did X Company Just Hire Y Person?” “Did X Company Just Release All Your Data To the Russian Government?” That punctuation is everywhere. Read More

FARNAM STREET

Something For Nothing: The Illusion of an Education on the Internet

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I imagined that spending time on the internet would be a fun way to learn new things. That was the promise right? Well it turns out to be nothing more than an illusion in practice.

It struck me one day while looking at my Twitter feed that most of it was junk. But like the bowl of potato chips at a party that I didn’t want and tried to avoid, I consumed it anyway. But why, I wasn’t sure.

I realized that I was moving in that direction too. At Farnam Street, the website I run with the goal of mastering the best of what other people have already figured out, I experimented with headlines recently to find out what was really going on. Read More