Linkbaiting - The Good, the Bad and the Annoying

The term, coined a few years ago by techy-types, denotes the practice of ‘baiting’ Web users to view a particular website. The term generally carries a negative connotation although in itself, it isn’t meant to imply anything other than techniques used to draw viewers to a site. Synonyms for bait include attract, entice or tempt, all perfectly good words. But when we think ‘bait,’ we usually think of fishing and of a fish, some poor sucker, dangling from a hook…
But, if used properly and with a sense of respect and consideration for Web users, treating them like intelligent people who, should they land on your site, have done so out of choice and not devious tactics, than linkbaiting need not be any more harmful than a smart television commercial that entices viewers into buying a product or visiting a store or restaurant…or Web site.

Unfortunately, since ad sponsored and pay-per-click programs have engulfed and stifled the Web, so has the number of get-rich-quick schemes and poor quality sites now on the Web which, spreading like wildfire, seem to be choking intelligence out of worth-while communication.
Because if someone makes money just by having you view a site or click a link located on their site, wouldn’t they want to do anything to ‘bait’ you into doing so.
So, unfortunately, since people are driven by money and the Internet affords near-perfect anonymity, navigating the Web can often be compared to buying one of those ‘star’ magazines featuring Brad Pitt and getting Gilda Radner instead. And when all you care about is attracting viewers, why bother with silly things like facts and grammar and spelling and content?
Although what can be construed as ‘negative linkbaiting’ is more and more frowned upon by sponsoring companies, sometimes resulting in negative consequences for some Web site owners, formal laws or regulations are yet in place to enforce better practices.

And so, a quick search is rarely a quick search and we are constantly annoyed by the many clicks which end in false promises and empty content and act as personal insults; we know we were duped towards something we don’t want and wasted precious minutes out of our busy schedules so that our click could make a buck for someone else.

Keep on clicking!


© 2008, Pascal-Denis Lussier

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