Daily Bread for 7.26.23: Live by Clickbait Marketing, Perish by Clickbait Marketing

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will see morning thunderstorms with a high of 89. Sunrise is 5:40 AM and sunset 8:21 PM for 14h 40m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 57.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1775, the office that would later become the United States Post Office Department is established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania takes office as Postmaster General., being the top-notch scholary journal clickbait mill that it is, has a 2023 post linking to a 2020 peer-reviewed research paper dog-crap article on The Most Stressed City in Each State. The 2020 article lists Whitewater as the most stressed city in Wisconsin. 

The formula for clickbait articles like this is to create an appearance, however flimsy, of a serious method: select a grab bag of measurements, apportion those measurements equally or even without any disclosure of apportionment, and then rank communities by them. Abracadabra!: a list of communities from most to least stressed. Using figures from six to ten years ago, the result somehow claims that Whitewater — of all places in the state — is the most stressed. 

I’m sure there are people in Whitewater who are stressed, but a few measures of dubious weighting using stale data serve iHeartRadio and the article’s original author (Zippia, ‘The Career Expert’) only as a way to attract website clicks. 

Why would this libertarian blogger mention the re-publication of an article that anyone with a GED, high school, technical school, college, graduate, or professional education should see as nonsense?

Because, in 2019, UW-Whitewater relied on a clickbait article from a burglar alarm company to claim that the campus was the safest in Wisconsin. See The Marketing of Misinformation: UW-Whitewater’s Use of a Counterfeit ‘Campus Safety’ Study and UW-Whitewater’s Administration Covers Crap with Catsup.

At that time, the university made sure to flack this nonsense prominently on its website. 

For some of us, respect for a high school, college, graduate school, or professional school education requires us to honor the legacy of the men and women who taught us proper standards of reasoning and method. No one honors an academic institution by debasing academic standards. 

The use of dodgy studies for marketing seems initially clever and practical, until someone else later comes along and deprecates the same community with the very technique the earlier dodgy effort used.

Live by clickbait marketing then, perish by clickbait marketing now. 

Not so clever after all.

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8 months ago

Well said! There there have been multiple efforts to throw anything at the wall to see what sticks. Some of it has been beyond ridiculous. We not an advertising agency and we shouldn’t act like one. It also hasn’t done us any good. The parade of administrators trying to fix the enrollment decline hasn’t brought a solution. No surprise that low quality on our behalf sometimes leads to low quality against our behalf.

8 months ago

One may even recall the BBC “most extroverted city” click bait even before the “safest campus”.

Well said in this post John Adams, well said.