Death is dead, you’re all wrong, and everybody’s lying

Recipe for getting traffic to your blog while alienating your readers:

STEP 1: Start with catchy title that relies on overgeneralization & exaggeration to make a sweeping statement:

Options:
a) ________________ is dead
b) ________________ (famous, respected person) is wrong
c) ________________ (profession or large category of people) is/are: unethical, lying, etc.

STEP 2:
Write pseudo-argumentation supporting a much weaker version of your title, one that actually specifies the conditions, contexts, and audiences for which the statement in the title might sometimes apply

STEP 3:
Publicize on twitter. Sit back & enjoy counting number of RTs

STEP 4: Watch comments coming in. Sit back & enjoy spike in blog traffic.

STEP 5: Respond to comments. If they disagree with you, act all offended that they didn’t read the small print buried halfway through the 4th paragraph of your post.

If you know me, you know I’m no big fan of the academic writing style. But, while we make fun of the long 2-part titles, we have to give them this: They’re specific. Precise, specific, accurate language is -even if not practiced much- valued in academia. Try it when you can.

People -and pets!- do a lot of crazy things to try to get attention. Before you use this recipe, consider:

- am I doing my readers a service?
- is this post helping me build long-term relationships with people I care about?
- do I really need this?
- do I really believe this?

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4 responses to “Death is dead, you’re all wrong, and everybody’s lying”

  1. Lisa Hickey says :

    Yes! And my motto: “Specificity = believability” (but start from a place of real truth)

  2. Mihaela says :

    Lauren, Karen: me, too…

  3. Karen Russell says :

    I’m so incredibly tired of people saying ridiculous things just to get people to visit their blogs. Lately I’ve been calling them out in the comments, which probably doesn’t solve anything but maybe it’ll make a few people think before they post.

  4. Lauren Vargas says :

    I applauded at SxSWi 2009 when Kathy Sierra said in her keynote not to label everything as “dead.” Write catchy titles and I put you on the same level as a shock jock.

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