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I like the notion of swamping the Internet with fake click-bait headlines, to dilute the attractiveness of this (to me, odious) form.

Give me sincere, honest news and discussion, or else shut up.

Unfortunately, someone out there must really have a craving for "weird old tricks" and "shocking conclusions".

It's a sort of race-to-the-bottom, least common denominator effect.

Maybe someone will write a browser extension that filters out obvious click-bait headlines. Now that would be clever!




People don't have a craving for this kind of crap, that is they don't actively search for it. It works by exploiting the brain. It's the publishing equivalent to junk food. We know it's awful. We know it's bad for us. But we struggle to not consume it because it's cheap and it pings our reward systems.


Actually, I think that the clickbait junk makes us think that it will ping our reward systems. For me, at least, it doesn't really reward me very well (even in a junk food way).

Maybe this means that the real clickbait trash is training me not to click on it, so I don't need the fake to do so?


I cured myself out of clickbait headlines after I clicked on few and learned to expect no content on the other side. It's a simple association, really. You click on something X-y, you get no reward, you learn not to waste time on X-looking things.


For you certainly. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Clickbait drives an insane amount of traffic and it shows no slowing down. Cosmo has been successfully using "clickbait" titles for decades on the cover of their magazines.


Of course. I'm not denying the effectiveness of this technique, just providing a n=1 datapoint. Maybe my personal idiosyncrasies make me immune to that particular type of traffic-driving technique (I have no doubts I'm vulnerable to other methods).


Part of our reward systems is what was initially named the "pleasure centre".

When the "pleasure centre" in the brain was first identified and named, it was named because it was thought that stimulating it caused pleasure, because rodents given the choice to stimulate it vs. other activity would stimulate the pleasure centre even over eating.

But as it turns out, the main function of stimulating this area is strong cravings and compulsion. You may get some pleasure from giving in to the cravings, but the cravings are independent of whether or not there's a "real" reward at the end of it.


Reminds me of a comment I read a few weeks back when an ex-drug addict was describing how the anticipation of using drugs was often more rewarding than the use itself. Which explains the pleasures in drug use rituals.


I've just banned myself from visiting many of the worst offenders. Though it's getting really hard, any more, to find sites that won't sink to that level.


Couldn't this trained RNN also be used to evaluate the "clickbait-ness" of article titles (rather than generate new ones)?


Tl;dr: No. Wrong output format, wrong training set, wrong input.

To create a classifier that does that, you'd need a labeled set - i.e. someone would have to go through and say "this headline is 3 clickbaits. This other headline is 8 clickbaits". You could also sort between clickbaity and non-clickbaity, but that would still require manual work.

You could get that programatically through a few different means, but you'd need a lot more than just headlines.

It also probably wouldn't be a good idea to use a RNN - it doesn't suit the data format well. It'd be better to use a neural network (non-recurrent) or logistic regression with the entire headline as input.

Fortunately, it'll converge on a good solution a LOT faster - fewer parameters to tune + simpler output = fewer examples needed to figure out what's going on - so you might be able to get something that has plausible levels of accuracy with a day or two of set labeling (estimate brought to you by my ass).


>Unfortunately, someone out there must really have a craving for "weird old tricks" and "shocking conclusions".

This problem seems concurrent to the old mystery of Viruses Spontaneously Self-Constructing On People's Computers. "How did you get all these viruses on your computer?" "I didn't do anything it just happened." "Okay, well be really careful what you click on." "I am careful!"


> Give me sincere, honest news and discussion, or else shut up.

There are plenty of sources for what you desire it just isn't what's popular... is that a problem?


Yes, but even respectable news and information websites now include clickbait (Outbrain and other "sponsored" content). I've seen it on WSJ, NYT, and other sites even when I'm paying $10-$15 a month.




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