How to generate tons of hits and posts and why I don’t do it

July 13, 2012 by Joshua
in Blog, Tips

Having written daily for a while I’ve found out great ways to generate lots of hits and to generate online discussion. I don’t do them on this page, despite how well they work.

The tactics attract people to any media — press, tv, etc.

Title

Start with a title with a provocative question the answer is usually no to.

  • Is Obama secretly working with the GOP?
  • Can you make millions without working?
  • What is the government not telling you about healthcare?

Subject

Express an opinion as indisputable fact on something there is no right answer to or no one knows. Judge.

  • What’s hot this season
  • Why Portland is the best city to live in
  • The truth behind global warming

Tone

Polarize. Moralize.

  • Suggest people can only be right or wrong on the issue.
  • Suggest the consequences for being wrong are severe.
  • Attach morality to the issue, so being wrong isn’t just a difference of opinion — it hurts people and provokes revulsion.
  • Suggest being wrong makes you a worse person.

Emotions

Generate uncomfortable emotions

  • Outrage
  • Indignation
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Rage
  • Self-righteousness
  • Isolation
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Blame
  • Futility
  • Reactivity

Why I don’t do it

Seeing how effectively the above tactics work showed me a lot about how the media works — not that it’s any secret. Since media makes money from attention, their revenue comes from advertising, and they’re for-profit companies, they are motivated to use the above tactics. I read and watch news less and less all the time, yet I find myself no less informed about what I consider important. I don’t know about who’s ahead today in a presidential race and I don’t get into debates on low-level issues. But I talk to people and participate in my local communities more.

My goal on this page is to help people learn things I learned. People who sense such changes will help them, will read more. If you want more personal reasons, I want more people in my life who aren’t judgmental, who choose to solve problems over complaining about them, who lead effectively, who share what they love, and so on in my life. I think most people want more of that in their lives. I also find that sharing these things helps me develop them in my life.

The above tactics don’t help me in any of these goals.

I’m sure I do them sometimes, but generally I try to do the opposite. I try to generate

  • Calmness
  • Understanding
  • Curiosity
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Responsibility
  • Community
  • Capability
  • Confidence
  • Empowerment
  • Self-awareness
  • Thoughtfulness

and the like. These emotions and motivations don’t get people posting combative posts. I hope they help readers improve their lives.

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3 responses on “How to generate tons of hits and posts and why I don’t do it

  1. Reminded me of Venkatesh Rao’s thoughts on his own blog (http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2012/07/03/five-years-of-blogging/):

    “In some modest ways, I can also claim to have helped define blogging as a medium. In particular, I like to think I helped create an existence proof that bloggers:

    don’t need to “focus on a niche” and form mutual-admiration networks with other bloggers
    don’t need to publish content at a frantic pace of three posts a day
    don’t need to worry explicitly about “monetization” (god, I hate that word)
    don’t need to limit themselves to easily digested mind-candy nuggets of 300 words
    don’t need to be drive at an insane pace towards vanity metric milestones
    don’t need to pander to the lowest common denominator
    don’t need to treat what they do as thinly veiled marketing for other stuff”

    As someone who’s constantly trying to cut down on the 24-hour-10-ten-tips-entreporn-dopamine-releasing content junkfeed, I salute you. Keep writing the good fight.

  2. As Richard Feynman said, at the end of the day it just comes down to whether “I like it or I don’t like it”. Technically speaking , pointing out other people’s self-righteousness, being polarizing, moralizing , being wrong or right itself ironically creates the same effect. There is no answer.

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