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You Won't Believe Why I Was Using a Clickbait Title: Decentralization and Blog Visibility

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Recently, I made a small experiment. I wrote a blog article with a slightly provoking title very similar to clickbait. The target audience of this article was the Emacs community where I contributed many things. Using a provoking title, I tried to trigger a certain group of Emacs users. The content of the article was not particular provoking, discussing some - in my opinion - reasonable arguments.

Then I promoted the article solely with one toot/tweet besides the usual Atom feed. The echo was poor. As a matter of fact, there was one single email comment, no comment via Disqus, and nothing substantial on Twitter/Mastodon.

Whenever an article like that hits the Emacs eco-system, it usually results in a few comments in the social networks or at least an occurrence on Sacha's Emacs news, a reddit post or even an article on irreal. Especially when an article contains provoking or negative comments of a hyped technology like I wrote.

Having a good visibility is important for content to be found by the potential readers because there are way too few people using the power of RSS/Atom to manage their input feed themselves, following my feeds directly.

In contrast to my personal blog, the number of readers on sub-reddits like this emacs-related one is large. Its sub-reddit page lists 41,800 members and the moment where I'm typing these lines, 248 of them were online - whatever this means.

So I published the very same content on reddit as well, when the blog article was online for twelve days. This way, I can derive some conclusions when comparing the echo of these two channels.

The Clickbait Title

Interestingly, I got several comments related to the title. I noticed that the reddit karma points did not increase but also decrease from time to time, indicating that I really got negative feedback as promised in some comments.

Funny enough, somebody even apologized for downvoting my article because he later found out that the article content provided valuable stuff.

Since I don't use clickbait titles like this, I was hoping for people to interpret it as some kind of joke. It seems to be the case that most people from the community still don't recognize my username. They don't have any relation between my sense of humor and the catchy title used.

Statistics

When I published the article on reddit, the blog article was online for twelve days and had 1128 hits or 315 visits.

After another twelve days, the article got 1916 hits and 502 visits in total. On reddit, I got dozens of comments. Various discussions were happening and some comments even claimed that my topic was controversial. Therefore, the topic of my article seemed relevant to the Emacs community.

Conclusions

This small experiment showed that the direct visibility of my personal web page is still very small, despite years of trying to provide good content for some communities like Emacs or PIM where existing feedback is very positive in general.

The issue I see is that whenever I'm not willing to promote my own blog articles on centralized and widely used platforms like reddit, almost no-one is able to find and read this content.

I've got some ideas that might be able to push my visibility even further such as feeds per tags. In addition to that, we should also be using more technologies that allow us to curate our own newsfeeds, collecting feeds while stumbling over interesting blogs, instead of sticking to centralized forums that will be gone some day. We could publish and share our feeds so that peers are able to learn about other feeds. You can follow my decentralization articles on more ideas on that topic.


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