Blog Sensationalism


You know, I totally understand sensationalist blogging. I mean, hey, I'm an old-skool blogger... I know how once in a while throwing a juicy post up on your server with some name calling, extreme opinions and a swear word or two can drive serious linkage and hits. You write stuff online every day for a few years, and its bound to get boring just following the same old routine, right? Might as well take a stick and poke at the bee-hive once in a while and see what happens. I completely get why bloggers would want to write that way.

That said, it's getting out of hand.

Have you noticed it too? The past few days have been nuts! It seems every opinion has exclamation points behind it, and every perspective is at the extremes. This company or that is evil or good, or will die or live, etc. No middle of the road, baby. Live! Die! Good! Evil! It's crazy. I don't think it's just the topics lately - it's definitely a trend. I think its probably a side effect of the increasing numbers of people who are blogging now and participating in the "conversation" (which is really a shouting match at this point). There are just so many voices, and everyone wants to get their opinions out there, but the reality is it's getting harder to be heard. Now it's at the point where people have to write almost nothing but sensationalistic posts on their blog to get any attention. The more extreme, the more likely you'll be to get links. is a perfect example of this effect at work, but contained one site. I've been keeping track of their front page links recently because of all the buzz the site has gotten, and I have to say, it's really full of crap. No really - the site is nicely designed, and the system is interesting, but the links produced are pure garbage. It seems that the ranking system they've created ends up promoting only the most sensationalist headlines to the front page. Pretty much if the title to an article doesn't have a least three exclamation points, it doesn't get promoted.

Here are some headlines from yesterday's Digg Front Page and Most Popular so you can see what I mean (Yes, these are real):

Xbox 360 Shortage will Continue!!!
An explosion the size of Saturn expected to happen on the Sun soon (w PICS)
Hacking Human Eyes
0 to 60 in 5 Seconds - on a BICYCLE!
Create a Freakish Zombie in 11 Steps
A big list of FREE music making software!
Advice to Google - Don't Record Our IP Addresses!
Anything you ever wanted to know about any logo!
Firefox 2.0 Features!
Major Piracy Bust! RELOADED included!
Measure Your Intelligence...Scared???
New Era of Screenshots....3D!
Alarm clock that helps you wake up feeling refreshed!

And it goes on. As an aside, IMHO Digg really needs a personal penalty system where you can mark a dumb-ass title or article that makes it to the front page so that the person who created it or anyone who "dugg" that article gets instantly banned from your future considerations - sort of a cross ranking system from Slashdot on steroids. But I digress...

The point I'm making is the blogosphere at large is hurrying down this same path, and I think everyone who's participating in that cycle needs to look around at what's happening, and help stop it before it gets worse. No? I'm a true believer in blogging as an advanced form of a communication and publication, direct from the source without intermediaries to muck it up. I can hear straight from a domain expert on a variety of topics, and I can contribute my knowledge and insight (for what they're worth) as well. I learn something new every day from my readers and the blogs I subscribe to, and that's great. But now this sort of benefit is getting lost in a continual din of rumor mongering, grandstanding and "scoops." It'd be nice to see us all back away from that stuff, and get back to posts that have more quality to them, no?

What do you think?


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