Maria Konnikova investigates what makes Internet articles go viral:
[Researchers Jonah] Berger and [Katherine] Milkman found that two features predictably determined an article’s success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader. Articles that evoked some emotion did better than those that evoked none—an article with the headline “BABY POLAR BEAR’S FEEDER DIES” did better than “TEAMS PREPARE FOR THE COURTSHIP OF LEBRON JAMES.” But happy emotions (“WIDE-EYED NEW ARRIVALS FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE CITY”) outperformed sad ones (“WEB RUMORS TIED TO KOREAN ACTRESS’S SUICIDE”). Just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference. If an article made readers extremely angry or highly anxious—stories about a political scandal or new risk factor for cancer, for example—they became just as likely to share it as they would a feel-good story about a cuddly panda.
In order to combat the endless stream of clickbait, Downworthy takes commonly used phrases and replaces them with much more realistic and honest versions. “Literally,” for example, becomes “Figuratively”; “Epic” becomes “Mundane”; “Will Change Your Life Forever” becomes “Will Not Change Your Life in ANY Meaningful or Lasting Way.” It might not be the most pretty commonplace thing to exist on the face of the Earth, but it’s pretty great nonetheless.
The headline for Konnikova’s article was also given the Downworthy treatment:
Previous Dish on click-bait here.