https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/headlines.png

You may have noticed that TTAG has launched a series of daily “listicles.” Some of the more vocal members of our Armed Intelligentsia have a different name for posts like Top 3 Reasons Not to Carry a Revolver and Top 3 Guns Guaranteed to Freak Out an Anti-Gunner “clickbait.”

They consider these articles sleazy and uninformative. While I fully admit that there’s a commercial motivation behind our listicles, I don’t accept that they represent a loss of editorial quality for America’s most prolific firearms website.

The topics covered by these posts — from the best caliber for armed self-defense to the best sub-compact 9mm carry guns — are important for gun owners. The level of conversation, debate, and controversy in the comments on these posts is the proof in the pudding.

That engagement and discussion is meaningful; we all learn from it. While we’ve covered many of these subjects in detail in full-on editorials, tips and reviews, “listicles” distill this critical information into a more digestible format — especially for new readers.

From our reader surveys, we know that TTAG’s regular readers are largely college-educated erudites. In this our eighth year of operation, we feel we have a pretty good handle on that market.

That said, we take nothing for granted. We will continue to carpet bomb with our usual content style — news, reviews and editorials — to satisfy that niche. But man does not live by long-form bread alone. Listicles present useful information into a quickly consumable, easily digestible format that many readers appreciate.

I want to thank the TTAG readers who care so much about this website that our listicles piss them off. Rest assured we’ll do our level best to create the web’s best gun-related “clickbait.” We’ll work hard to make sure the information provided is accurate, and that the logic underpinning our choices is sound. We will read your comments and incorporate your input where appropriate.

And as always, we welcome new writers. If you think you can do this as well or better — a not illogical supposition — please drop a sample to thetruthaboutguns@gmail.com with ‘SUBMISSION’ in the subject field. Meanwhile, thank you for your patience, passion and expertise. And there you have it: the top three reasons I love you guys (and gals)!

92 Responses to Housekeeping: The Truth About TTAG “Clickbait”

  1. I’m fine with the listicles, pretty much for the reasons described in this article.

    The best part is that those people who possess the hard-earned and much-touted smarts to see a click bait for what it is can simply, y’know, not click it.

    • You do realize that those repetitive non-content articles take the place of good reviews or commentary, right? That’s why they get added when news is slow. The hazard is that when things pick up, there is tremendous incentive for them to hang around since they are easier to manage than real articles with sources & research.

      • We post some 11 – 14 times per day. These articles don’t crowd-out lengthier, more information-rich or topical articles.

        TTAG is committed to covering gun news as deeply and completely as possible. Regular readers will know that we “swarm” large, breaking, gun-related stories (i.e. post many articles as soon as they’re ready).

        • @Vendetta

          You do realize this is a business, right?
          That you’re not actually entitled to the labors of others… you know, that whole free market economy thing?

        • @Ebby123
          You are correct. However, you’re missing the converse position: TTAG is not entitled to Vendetta’s readership.
          One benefit of posting an article like this is to get feedback from the readers about this new article type.

          My input: I’m fine with the quick lists. As long as TTAG doesn’t devolve into posting articles about two MIT grads disrupting the gun industry, I’m okay with the changes.

        • ” TTAG is not entitled to Vendetta’s readership.”

          So let it be true!

          Vendetta, please show these people what you think of this, and deprive them of your cheer, and go . . . anywhere else.

  2. It’s not going to be easy for pro gun sites and orgs now that hillary didn’t get elected. A lot of folks are thinking the crisis is over(it may be). There won’t be major, daily attempts to take our civil rights away which, quite frankly, leads to sites like ttag getting a little desperate for topics to keep the interest alive.

    Political commentary is better for clicks than gun or gear or hunting stories.

    Success may mean hard times for folks like RF.

    • I don’t think that the fight is over- far from it. I am friends with many liberals(keep your enemies close) and they are pissed, energized, organized, and VERY active in all things political. Especially gun control.

      We need to fight as hard or harder than before. The enemy is not beaten and is not resting.

      • “…and they are pissed, energized, organized, and VERY active in all things political…”

        Yep, they are past the boiling point of disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, and anger. They’ve moved right on to ‘revenge and destruction’, salt the earth, and burn it all down.

    • The daily attempts to take our civil rights away are still happening in the blue areas of the country (you know – the places where temper tantrum riots have become a daily occurrence).

      Whether or not they are “major” depends on whether or not you live there.

    • Dear, God, first the Anti-Temperance Blog disappears, and now gun-politics blogging is dying? If I’d known the price of success would be losing the ability to profit on fret & worry over failure, I’d have never sent that money, or joined those orgs, or voted, or contacted my representatives, or…

    • Just report on haps in Cali, Chiraq, NY, NJ, Maryland, Mass and Conn, and I think the future is so bright for TTAG that they’ll need sunglasses. No chance of it being boring, ’cause mon(in)san(e)to mom shannon will spew something. Then Dirk will get involved. All will be good. Don’t forget the comedy by mark and his puppet.

      • Those are local events an simply won’t generate the visceral response that a proposed AWB would with a hillary in the white house.

        • The response they generate is plenty visceral to those being targeted. Just because the target is smaller doesn’t make it any less important.
          Whether you’re struck by lightening or trip downstairs, you’re just as dead.

    • You may not have been paying attention, but…
      The fight will abate on the federal level somewhat, but t he fight on the state and local levels will not just continue, but get worse.
      On the federal level, hoplophobes have pretty much given up, but mommies have decided that the local level is a much better place to get bang for (Bloomberg’s) buck, for now.
      Just look at California, and see where they want the US to go. Several states in the NE are also doing their best to become gun free.
      No, sir, the fight is far from over.

  3. I prefer TTAG articles like “what are the best reasons to carry a revolver?” to “these are the 3 best revolvers to carry”.

    They both incite discussion, but only one of these makes opinionated declarations.

    • Agree. “Listicles” can be OK if they’re:

      1. honestly thought provoking (not a haphazardly thrown together list of what is/isn’t the “best” that’s sole purpose is to start an argument in the comments)

      and

      2. are not retreading something that’s been done or “listed” a million times already (trust me, the internet does NOT need any more “Top 5 Conceal Carry Handguns,” “Top 5 Guns for Newbies,” or “Top 5 Guns for Women” lists so just cut that out).

  4. I thought every post on every website on earth was just ‘click-bait’. As long as the title honestly describes the content on the other side of the click I have no problem with any of it. If you’re not interested in the subject, don’t click.

    • I think it’s about where the primary focus is for the content. Often the article has to either fall into a format to it the clickbait title (3 reasons revolvers suck!!) or the title has to be less representative of the article.

    • Just based on the low number of comments they garner, the Pocket Dump of the Day rarely sparks much controversy. And why should it? We saw the contents of your pockets in the photo without needing to click it. But every once in a while someone pulls something unexpected or really different out… THEN we get excited!

  5. And what pray tell is wrong with CLICKBAIT? It keeps the lights on. If all I wanted was boring gun reviews I’d stick with the Firearm Blog. And TTAG is numero uno. Unless you go full satan I’ll continue to peruse you guys daily…

  6. Can you split the RSS feed into two, listicle laden and not, so those of us with the attention span of >ant don’t have to dump you over the click bait?

    • ^ This.

      You’re not going to be sourced as much by kindred blogs if blogger source feeds are clogged with internet panhandling.

    • I don’t know what mail client you use, but with Gmail, I can see the title of the article right up front.
      When it says something along the lines of, “Top 5 reasons to not buy a Slamfire XL-38,” I’m pretty sure it’s a listicle. Then, depending on whether or not I’m considering buying a Slamfire XL-38, I can either read it or not.
      I (and I’m pretty sure, you) don’t need it separated into two separate lists.
      But I might be wrong about you. 🙂

  7. Generally I find the term “clickbait” is a buzzword people use when they click on a story thinking it will support their preconceived notions and ideas only to find that the story does not. Alternatively the person knows the article won’t support their viewpoint and click the link solely to leave a comment about how unfair it is that an article that doesn’t conform to their point of view would ever be published.

    When people complain like that it means your making a valid point, one that the people complaining don’t like.

    Fanboys of all stripes get butthurt when someone posts something that doesn’t conform to their worldview. Some grow up and learn that perhaps whatever it is that they’re a fan of it’s the best thing since sliced bread. They figure out that the object of their affection may not, dare I say, be perfect. Others just complain about “clickbait” rather than examining such an article to see if there’s any thing valid that they can learn from it.

    • We run in different circles, different areas of the country, or some combination thereof.

      I shan’t/can’t argue your experience, I would merely offer that in my world, “clickbait” pretty much means exactly what it says. Did the title of Some Lardassian Does Whatever make you do the do? We all know that most any headline is somewhat deceiving, in that it is designed to make you look, not that you will actually be “Amazed!”, “Shocked!” or even “Surprised!”. We also know that headlines this have been around since people figured out how to monetize scribbling on a daily basis. Look at newspapers from the early 1800s. Or ancient Roman graffiti for that matter. The act of selling pretty much always starts with making you look.

      That the format has moved from charcoal sticks on cave walls, to carbon black on paper, to soon-to-arrive carbon nanotubes in electronic applications is, to my mind, irrelevant.

      • Maybe I’m just cynical but when it comes to a site like TTAG if the title of something “makes” you click it rather than causes you to think “That’s interesting so let’s see what they have to say” then in my estimation you’re probably the kind of person who buys a lot of tabloids at the grocery store because you just have to know exactly how Hillary Clinton was diagnosed with eczema of the cancer of the AIDS of the syphilis of the ADHD of the Restless Leg Syndrome in her left eye by the Bat Boy found in a New Mexico cave.

        Part of life is self control and discipline. If you can’t read a headline that’s outrageous, roll your eyes and move along without reading the entire article and then commenting on it you might want to work on the discipline thing.

        I skip articles on here all the time because they’re not interesting to me and therefore not worth my time. I certainly don’t waste my time reading them and then spend more of the one commodity I can’t buy more of commenting on how my aforementioned time was wasted. I just pull up a new tab and switch over to midget shiza porn.

        These articles have a point to them. While some may not agree with those point the articles certainly are not just clickbait.

        Clickbait, in it’s proper form, is a bait and switch colloquially known on the interwebz as “rickrolling” but in an evolved form that doesn’t necessarily involve a stupid music video from a shitty 80’s musician. This evolved form involves what should be obvious bullshit headlines like “This one weird trick KILLS diabetes!” and leads to a site that’s nothing of the sort and usually wants your credit card number. That’s clickbait and the fact that it exists in the amounts that it does is rather ominous for a number of reasons when one considers the intelligence of the person who would be so fucking stupid as to click on something like that.

      • I grew up on Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin post Hippy Dippy Weatherman. Not to mention Antisthenes and the later cynics who made it what it is today…

        As you noted, you have an inherent understanding of when you are being ‘played’ by a headline Which is exactly my point. Anyone who really believes that Dolly Parton’s Daughter From The Flat Side of the Earth Cured My Ovarian Cancer or Oprah Winfrey Really Loves ‘The D’! is terminally retarded There’s no helping them, and accepting that is part of existing on this planet. I do actually feel bad that f-tards are relieved of their cash for nothing, but that’s the current metric of survival of the fittest without actually, you know, killing them.

  8. here’s an idea for a “listicle”:

    Top three reasons both the Republican party and the Democrats are a threat to your constitutuonal rights.

    or:

    The top 3 reasons anything short of 40 caliber is no good for self defense.

    or:
    Why anything bigger than 38 caliber is too much gun for self defense.

    I can see the allure to this format. This crap writes itself.

  9. As I said in the 3 reasons not to carry a revolver, I love these, far more for the comments section than the article itself. Whether it is a clear discussion on the pros and cons of a particular platform or caliber, or an over the top rant about how X is clearly superior to Y followed by a dozen rebuttals, it all makes for a good read.

    Personally, I am amazed and confused by how much people seem to care what other people carry. I understand when you are defending your piece: “I like my revolver because;” but the people who proselytize for something: “you shouldn’t carry anything but a Glock,” or “if you carry caliber X you are an idiot” that mindset is just beyond my comprehension.

    It does make for a fun debate, though.

  10. Psh. Its working isn’t it? It’s raking in the cash, so why stop? You don’t need to explain yourself. This is America! Again! BIG LEAGUE!!!!!! I say you push the click bait harder. Like, 3 reasons why carrying a 9 makes you feminine!!! Or 3 reasons to carry a .44 mag (hint: one is not being a bitch!)… I’d love reading the comments those would generate.

  11. I see where you are coming from on the occasional listicle. Quality can be improved but I think that it’s offset well by the quantity produced in any given week.

  12. Given the number of OFWGs who are dedicated readers, the medical topics are just waiting…”Shooting Cures Baldness Five Ways!”
    Seriously, how many topics have the readers suggested, and not yet seen? There’s so much to be written.

  13. Interesting. I find myself winding down pontificating my opinion that I’m a legend in my own mind, what gun I carry and the continued mantra of lawful self defense. All I know is TTAG was there when I needed it, forced me to think through after the DGU, drove me to obtain a CCW…and I’m all the better for it. Writers contribute good material and has the demographics covered. While I’ll hold the warm showers with the TTAG crew, I thank them and it’s good to know like minded posters are infinitely better expressing their thoughts than me.

    So if the dog with the big nuts wants to click bait my day, it’s all good.

  14. On an unrelated “housekeeping” note, whatever happened to the “Truth About TTAG” quarterly posts where Nick dissected the site’s statistics and such? I always thought those were kind of interesting.

    • This comment posted to the wrong place. I was actually saying “Nicely done” to the person who pointed out Farago’s failure to attribute the XKCD image that he used at the top of this article and did it in a funny way.

      But I see all of that has been deleted. As will this, soon enough, I am sure.

  15. “I don’t accept that they represent a loss of editorial quality for America’s most prolific firearms website.”

    Accept it. They are a joke and they undermine your credibility.

    “The level of conversation, debate, and controversy in the comments on these posts is the proof in the pudding.”

    It’s proof only that people took the clickbait. Congratulations. You’re on par with the National Enquirer touting their circulation as proof that their newsstand rag provides meaningful journalism.

  16. This site has seriously gone downhill in the last couple years. Victim of its own success I imagine. Its pretty much just the huffington post of the gun world at this point.

  17. And is it funny or scummy that they did so right next to a crop of the exact same sleazy clickbait bullshit ads being lampooned via copyright infringement?

    “I don’t accept that they represent a loss of editorial quality”
    BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!!!! People don’t see click bait articles as low quality because the headline is sensational; we hate them because it invites the laziest, emptiest, most irresponsible kind of slap-shod copy-paste content manufacture in print. Sorry, but a million-and-one-th re-hash of 9mm vs. 40SW is *not* new or valuable content for anyone. Neither is a list of guns ‘hated’ by a group of people. They’re just the same warmed-over BS filling forums across the net for decades, and before that the payola gun-rags this site supposedly seeks to elevate itself above.

    Look, I get that the news is (thankfully) a bit slow for us right now, and what little there is isn’t the pants-soiling variety that has all of us hitting F5 for hours on end. I get that your site has a lot more full-time mouths to feed than ever before. But you’ve already got shameful ad-hosting people (with occasional malicious script/redirects), you’ve sold headline space to various corporate ‘sponsors’ in extremely repetitive low-effort ‘content’ like Dump of the Day or Irresponsible/Anti-Gunner/Gun-Hero of the Day news re-posts, Caption Contests, and then there’s also the full-on sponsored articles like for the big firearms shows. None of these stories are the source of the actual attraction of the site, but necessary filler to tide us over between the truly valuable articles.

    Nothing wrong with some good-old soft journalism like this since it does pad the clicks and keeps the site moving each day with new articles, but there comes a point where the majority of topics are pure fluff, and not technical discussion of the state of the art, interesting historical investigations, quality thorough reviews of products, informed reporting on legal developments, and well-written entertaining editorial observations on the gun culture. The hard stuff, that isn’t copy-paste formula day after day. The things that attracted eyeballs to the site in the first place, before the sleazy ads, before the pop-ups, before the sponsored content, before the slick interface, before a panel of full-time staff that have to justify their existence each day even when there is nothing to report on in reality.

  18. Diversity of opinion is key to keeping an ideological entity present for any duration. This helps to promote civil debate. However, there must also be a degree of tolerance for the potentially controversial positions that may arise in such an environment. To this end, both sincerity and temperance are key when bringing new blood into the fold.

    While content is vital, intent is also important when taking into account whether the ends justify the means.

    In conclusion, one must also remember that a movement founded upon and galvanized by divisive invective, can never be unified.

    On a side note: Gotta stop eating the fortunes along with the cookies.

  19. I see this as a commercial site that some times has interesting information.

    I really don’t think of it as journalism….more of an opinion blog.

    Not trying to offend but I’m sure someone will be…..offended.

    I read about 30 percent of the posts and watch maybe 5 percent of the vids.

    The click bait posts are just a slavish attempt to get more hits to atract clickbait ads orpage-blocking Brownell ads. Sometimes they work and I read and post.

    I go to this sight less than a year ago because of the annoying Brownell ad and the hijacking adware.

    Seems like you could get some real advertizers and not make look at malformed toenails each time we visit.

  20. Comrades, please stop. I will confess. I have little interest in most of the content produced/recycled by the TTAG staff. That is much more of a comment on my age and not the choices, skills, preferences and opinions of the writers (mmmm… 4140 steel and walnut). I stalk this blog, mostly, for the entertainment value of the comments. Some are thought provoking and insightful (especially the ones I agree with), some are inane and some of the best comments are hilarious.

    TTAG is the number one gun blog on the planet. After careful consideration I conclude, they must be doing something right.

  21. Non college educated rubes couldnt possibly understand our “long-form” articles about us shilling for Cabot. Thank you for finally putting the nail in the coffin for me with this garbage used to be worth reading website. Let the downhill slide continue. I will no longer be subscribing. TFB has better reading anyway.

  22. If the author of the article has the first name “Sara” I wont click. Closet libshit crazy that one and cartoonish writing.

  23. I don’t have a problem with clickbait. I *do* have a problem with misleading headlines, incorrect information within the articles, and writers/editors mocking and insulting readership (as happened over the weekend on instagram). I’m seeing a disconcerning rise in that sort of thing, and I find I’m visiting and commenting less frequently as a result. The flat-out refusual to keep trolls in check, the lack of modding as it relates to religious and racial discrimination and attacks, flat-out turn me off.

    At least you’re honest about the fact that you’re only in this for the money and the views.

  24. I define clickbait as bait and switch, not just bait for clicks.

    I don’t mind the articles you are posting at all. Keep ’em coming.

  25. “Clickbait” consists of headlines like “Britney Spears Nude!” and when you click on them, you get pictures of Britney Spears wearing six layers of clothing, but she’s nude underneath ’em.

    “Listicles” are just fun little time wasters that provoke great comments.

    Now, let’s get back to articles about the best caliber for self defense, m’kay? That’s somethng we can all agree on.

    • Click bait seems to have changed in fairly recent memory. It used to be the Britney Spears nude stuff, now it’s more headlines that actually don’t mean a damn thing.

      Cops were called, you’ll never believe what they saw…

      And .45 ACP. Because there’s no replacement for displacement.

  26. Complaints about trashy ads and clickbait articles are prevalent on absolutely every online publication, yet the collective shrieking outrage would be even greater if a site had the audacity to charge a subscription.

    If a site has ads and sponsored posts, they’re a shill, if a site puts up a paywall, they’re worse than genetically engineered Hitler/Satan hybrid.

    The irony on a gun blog (where it can safely be assumed that most visitors lean conservative and thus accordingly worship unmitigated capitalism) is that the site owners, writers, and editors are for some reason expected to produce grade A content, not just for free, but at a financial loss.

  27. At this point I do find list headlines irritating, but here you seem to have content that matches the headline. Dividing things into a bullet point list has always been a good way of conveying information. Problems arise when the article is divided into to many points and filled with fluff; when 10 things should be 3 and the article should be half as long.

  28. There sure are a bunch of whiny little bitches that day after day say “this website
    sucks” or my personal favorite ” I’m gonna quit coming here” and yet here you are, still crying. I personally like TTAG. It’s a good read on break and lunch. Some articles are better than others, but I sure appreciate that they put out several a day even on Sunday. It’s not like you are paying for it and nobody is forcing you to read it. Don’t like it? Quit reading or try Vagisil, or better yet start another site, but quit complaining you sound like those “protesters” do you need a trophy?

  29. I like a lot of new content, even if some of it is fluff. I usually scroll through the topics and right-click/open-in-new-tab anything that catches my eye (I read TTAG at work on a PC). So in my opinion more is better as long as quality doesn’t suffer on the high end. Obviously there is a level of diminishing returns if content generation becomes the paramount focus of this blog, i.e I may not make it to page two when I do my daily topic scroll, so to much fluff will bury the quality content.

  30. I usually just skip the articles anyway and scroll straight to the comments. That button that takes me straight to the comments is my favorite tool.

    Now if there was a way to link to Ralph’s comments, this site would be perfect.

  31. This article uses XKCD’s artwork and copyrighted material. I don’t know if a “fair use” argument applies here, but it should at least be credited. Here is the term’s of randall’s work:
    “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

    This means you’re free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them). More details.”
    https://xkcd.com/license.html

    • TTAG has had a running issue with crediting for art. A guest post I did last year had someone complain that their photography was used without credit, and they asked to have it changed/updated. Despite my putting them in touch with editorial staff, It never did. That and a host of other issues have made me leery about submitting any more content.

      And yet, I keep coming back.

  32. the only thing I hate about TTAG is the relentless TTAG banner that HAS TO BE AT THE TOP OF MY PAGE when I scroll on my phone. It makes the page bounce, I lose my place, have to scroll back, it bounces the page again. I give up, force the browser to ask for desktop version.. seriously. I know I’m on TTAG. I WENT to TTAG to read the latest listicle. I don’t need your damn banner following me down every time I scroll screaming THE TRUTH ABOUT GUNS.
    I have a low-level for frustration and it makes me leave your site.

  33. “While I fully admit that there’s a commercial motivation behind our listicles,…” This is the only honest sentence in this post. The rest is just specious twaddle that tries to justify laziness.

    The only real content in these posts comes from the comments, and TTAG certainly doesn’t share the resulting revenue with those whose “content” generated it.

    More simply put.. ‘don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.’

  34. I gave up wading thru the comments, so maybe this has been said:

    what counts as clickbait differs from person to person. Have there ever been any articles that everyone considered to be clickbait?

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