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3 tips on how to save an insane amount of time on clickbait articles (plus 1 bonus)

InfoSec🐱‍💻 and software development🧑‍💻. Loving open source. Striving for inclusive🧑‍🤝‍🧑 and sustainable🌱 solutions. Proud dad of two girls.
Originally published at ・2 min read

"AI in medical devices, course or blessing", "12 ways to earn passive money with no efforts". You are scrolling through social media, click some headlines like the aforementioned ones and an hour later you ask yourself why your feet went to sleep on the toilet again.

So here's the ultimate chance to save your feet and a lot of time in the future.
Based on common clickbait patterns you can predict the whole article and it's outcome by just reading the headline. You will no longer have to click on it. Just read the headline, know, and scroll on.

Typical clickbait headings are often questions. Alone by the way the question is structured, you can safely answer it by yourself and skip the article completely. So let's go.

If the headline is a yes or no question, the answer is "no".

Need some examples?*

Will humans be living on Mars by 2025?

Do VPNs always increase security?

Will 2021 be the year of the Linux desktop?**

Just say it out loud, "No."

Simple right? And it's very effective. Headlines with yes-no-questions are a very common practice, so when you skip these articles and answer them yourself, that's already a huge amount of time saved.
Also, the accuracy of this metric is almost 100%.
If you find an article with a headline like this and the answer is "yes," please send it over so I can frame it on the wall.

If the headline is an option A or option B question, the answer is "it depends".

Azure or AWS - which cloud fits your enterprise?

Java vs JavaScript: Which Is The Best Choice For 2021? (updated)

GIMP vs Photoshop: Which should you use?

Articles about alternatives.
They list general advantages and disadvantages.
The conclusion is always "it depends".
But since specific advantages and disadvantages are missing, which are exactly related to your environment, they are usually of little help or even misleading. You can safely skip them.

If the headline is structured like "some topic: course or blessing", the answer is "both".

Globalization - Blessing or Curse?

Genetic Testing - A blessing or a curse?

Social Media - A blessing or a curse?

You can already guess it. There are good and bad aspects to the topic. Some of both sides are listed, yawn, go on.

Bonus: Skip lists.

Ha, gotcha! 90% of lists - this one included - (The 5 largest..., the 20 best...) are just crap. The longer the list, the crappier it gets.
Most of the time, list articles only scratch the surface of the subject matter. They will just reenforce what you think you know already. For new and deep insights, go for articles that are focusing on only one topic, describing it non-list style. May this be the last list you fall for.

And now get up, flush and wash your hands😉

* The examples are from social media, newspapers, even research papaers. Won't add any links here to not further support clickbait.

** What a pity, but also: "No."

Discussion (1)

prog profile image

Thanks Martin, I will apply these rules in the future.