I hate clickbait. It’s misleading, breaches trust, and I think makes our society worse. If I see an article or Youtube video that uses clickbaity tactics I don’t click it because I don’t want to reward the tactic. In my head, it’s some media executive saying to a low level blogger “we don’t give a fuck if people complain, just keep doing it!“. I think most people agree that clickbait is annoying.

Then, something happened this week which has changed my mind – CHESS DRAMA!

Magnus Carlsen is the best chess player in the world. People want content about Magnus. GothamChess is the biggest chess channel on Youtube, with over 4 million subscribers. Of his 12 most recent videos, 7 have Magnus in the thumbnail! More than half of this guy’s full time job is just making videos about another guy who plays chess!

Also, looking at the titles and the thumbnails, this is the type of clickbait that I despise.

This week, Magnus lost a game to a much worse player and commented that his opponent was wearing a watch – which by rule is not allowed! This comment insinuated that his opponent was cheating, though Magnus never outright accused him.

GothamChess, puts out this video:

I was annoyed! The title would make you think that some player was caught cheating against Magnus, and that’s not at all what happened! This was slimy. And I was not alone. My companions at r/chess felt the same! People complained that this was just for clicks. A testament to how shitty clickbait rules all.

GothamChess, however, responeded! In a four minute video, he says

I clickbait, 100%. But I don’t lie, and I don’t cross a line of ethics, truths, and falsehoods, just to get views… When I name things exactly what they are, they do worse.

He shows the data for the video in question which was performed great for his channel. His whole purpose as a content creator, his JOB, is to put out high performing videos. If he’s between two titles where one is basic and one is clickbait, and the clickbait will generate 20% more revenue, why would he NOT use the clickbait title?!

This is not a revelation. People use clickbait because it works. I cannot fault GothamChess or anyone else who makes their living off of this. If enough people decide they’re going to stop clicking on things like this, and creators actually make less money with clickbait, they would change their behavior! But for the time being, the people WANT clickbait. Give the people what they want!

I’ve done a 180. I’M going to start using clickbait titles

  • You Won’t Believe What Happened When I Went to the Chess Club 😉
  • This Babe Said WHAT to Me After the Race?!?!
  • How Starting a Blog Made My Friends Hate Me and Ruined My Life!!!