I think you'd be right about BuzzFeed if this happened ~a year ago. Now, BuzzFeed has so much content, and they push it so hard on visitors, that I would be surprised if they didn't actually score pretty highly on this metric (although I was a bit unclear on if this was referring to URL level or domain level time on site). Also, so much of BuzzFeed's content are long lists with large images or gifs that people stare at that they aren't going to be hit as hard as UpWorthy (who pioneered the "You Won't Believe..." headline. Finally, BuzzFeed has actually gotten enough traction to now be able to hire real journalists to create actual content.
Buzzfeed's problem, for me at least, is that they've acquired negative brand equity. I reject any content that carries their domain. It's actually rather disheartening to hear NPR and PRI whoring out to them, including WNYC's On the Media, an otherwise excellent program.
I was shocked when I got a link to buzz feed from a friend who basically said "I know the URL, but trust me it's good" I did, and surprisingly it was. This wasn't a quiz or some gif set but a well written article on depression or anxiety I believe.
Buzzfeed is having a pretty rough time transitioning to an actual journalist enterprise though. They've had a few editors lately fired for outright plagiarizing a majority of their listicles, including ripping directly from Yahoo answers of all places. To combat this they've also recently culled a significant number of old listicles from their 'media-lab' era. I forget the exact number but I want to say it was on the order of 4,000+ articles that were disappeared? I get that they're trying to improve their image but at the same time quote-unquote "actual journalists" wouldn't white-wash their past and would explicitly own up to the mistakes they've made.
tl;dr Original content is the new aggregation growth-hack but can't replace a lack of ethics.
My Facebook feed is full of (IMO) low quality posts from them. Specifically, the "drop everything and watch this ice bucket challenge" videos. Seemingly every day, there is a new post declaring the king of the ice bucket challenge, to stop doing it, x has won, etc.
The other 20% don't really care about click-bait, or haven't analysed what's happening, and won't have a strong opinion about it. I'd put money on people in this 20% clicking on these things a lot more than the other 80%.
I make a point to never follow a link containing the strings "You will never believe", "You will be amazed", "We didn't expect what happened next" or similar lazy copy text. I'm considering developing an adblock-plus-like plugin to remove them from the pages I visit.
Hmm, that's not how I imagined them doing it. It seems like Facebook could log the click on their site, and then use the Page Visibility API or even just scrolling events to detect your return – all without a tracking bug on any other site.
The other nearly-identical HN story has a nearly-identical comment. Did you read the article? It says something quite different:
One way is to look at how long people spend reading an
article away from Facebook. If people click on an article
and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked
through to something valuable. If they click through to a
link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests
that they didn’t find something that they wanted. With
this update we will start taking into account whether
people tend to spend time away from Facebook after
clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight
back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.
It's worth noting that most/much of Facebook's usage is on mobile...all FB has to do is track when you left the app (via click-through) and when you resumed click-through. I assume this is pretty trivial if the 99%-use-case is the user hitting "back" on the FB app nav.
The same metric could be used for the web app too, in lieu of other sophisticated tracking code. Someone in the other thread mentioned that this would miss users who clicked through an article (or click-into-new-tab) and read it later, but I'd have to imagine that this is a very, very slim use-case.
Chances are good that people who browse that way are looking for niche subjects that are equally outliers, so if there's any value to their traffic at all, search engines would do well to figure out that for X sites and Y visitors, the default browsing behavior assumptions do not apply.
Facebook isn't a company I praise often, but this is both a very good change and one which I desperately hope will carry through both to how other sites (HN, reddit, G+, all of which, unlike FB, I actually do use) treat clickbait, and how publishers optimize their own content.
The race to the bottom among aggregators, which started quite some time back with HuffPo (nearly a decade old now) has become quite maddening. I've long since resorted to flagging such content as spam, where possible (curious that comments here suggest FB has an "I don't want to see this" option, G+ most certainly doesn't), and increasingly have resorted to unfollowing or blocking those who post such crud.
Much as xkcd suggested a format for getting bots to contribute usefully to online forums, it would be quite slick if search and social engines would reward actually good and quality content.
I had to stop using Google Plus for just this reason. At some point they decided to add a "hot" category of stories to your feed in the mobile app. There was no way to disable this 'feature' or avoid these spammy stories while still using the app. I can't say I've really missed much.
I like this update. The legacy of BuzzFeed and Upworthy can live on with click-bait in headlines and titles, but now, they'll have to be backed by engaging content. The reason clickbait emerged is that those headlines were engaging and interesting to people. It would be fascinating to go back to the most egregious clickbait/low quality content examples and actually create the content the headline teased.
I'd love to see some Clickbait filters similar to Bayesian spam filters. My initial guess is that any headline with the word "this," second-person pronouns, and future tense (e.g. "you won't believe this blah blah blah") would rank highly.
Anyone else wonders who are these people that answered their survey? I don't know about you, but Facebook never asked me anything, let alone to compile a survey. My guess is that these people are Facebook employees. What is wrong with that, you ask? It's simple, Facebook is used by 1B+ people, so the results from a survey answered by a few thousand doesn't tell you anything about the general consensus. Even worse, you're only seeing what a very specific niche wants: the American, mostly white, tech-minded portion of the userbase. It's good dogfooding your products to root out bugs, but it's downright reckless to use your own people to make assumptions over the needs of the real user base.
I think you're assuming an awful lot based on the fact that you haven't been surveyed by Facebook.
Facebook has 1B+ people. Do you know how trivial it is for them to run surveys? 100K population surveys, if they want? Many hundreds of them, simultaneously?
I have no insight into how facebook manages its surveys, but I'd be surprised if they didn't have some sort of generalized surveying platform built in to facebook that allows product teams to independently survey more or less anything they want.
"My guess is that these people are Facebook employees"
Why do you guess that? Facebook could get a very accurate assessment of user opinion by surveying 10000 users. If Facebook has over a billion users and surveys 10000 of them, then the probability that I personally get surveyed is tiny, and even the probability that anyone I know gets surveyed is pretty small. So the fact that Facebook didn't survey you or me is not a good reason to think they haven't been surveying their users.