A little less than a year ago I posted an small warning I entitled “Why hit pieces should be ignored by our Community” and, in the same spirit, I have decided to post another warning about a related phenomenon (if only because we usually see the same parties doing both things): clickbaiting.
I decided to write this because I am regularly getting emails sounding something like this: “have you seen this article https://www.somearticle.somewhere.something? the author says that “bla bla bla bla bla” (fill with any sensationalist nonsense of your choosing). do you agree? what do you think of this?”
The problem with these emails is that they invariably refer to an author and/or website which are engaging in shameless clickbaiting in order to get attention.
Why do they do that?
Well, for several different reasons:
- In some cases it is simply a question of money: more clicks means more advertisement revenue.
- Sometimes it’s ego: some author has nothing of value to say, but he/she is desperately trying to remain relevant and noticed.
- Sometimes it’s politics: the author(s) have a specific financial sponsor(s) who needs to see the “ideologically correct” line or he/they will cut his/their support.
At the end of the day, who cares why they do what they do as long as we all keep mind what it is they are doing it and why.
Which authors/sites am I referring to here? We probably all know who they are, they are, after all, easy to recognize by the following characteristics:
- They always feature titles about stuff like Putin’s imminent demise, or about how he is about to “sellout” something or somebody, or some other sensation about the Kremlin which, of course, only they know about. If they don’t declare Putin terminal, they typically declare Russian military hardware does not work. These are the “doom and gloom clickbaiters“.
- Alternatively, Putin is an infallible genius who never makes any mistakes and all those who dare to find something to criticize in him or the Kremlin’s policies are a) traitors b) CIA agents c) “gatekeepers”, etc. These are the “Russia is infallible and invincible clickbaiters“
- Fantastic and *totally* unsubstantiated bovine excreta like, say, “Kremlin orchestra shot down by Israeli missile fired from nuclear submarine”. These are the “nobody besides me knows the real truth clickbaiters“.
What they all have in common is exactly *zero* expertise in the field they so desperately try to be noticed in.
One thing they *all* have in common (with one exception, I have to admit) is that they all try really hard to impersonate Orthodox Christians while in reality they know close to nothing about Orthodoxy and their fake piety is all for public consumption (their actual actions are in direct and total contradiction with the Orthodox faith). I guess they conflate the concepts “Russian” and “Orthodox” and they believe that by posting a lot of nonsense about Orthodoxy and Christian values they somehow bolster their “Russian” (or, at least, pro-Russian) credentials. They don’t and they clearly are blissfully unaware that (ethno-)Phyletism is a heresy condemned by the Orthodox Church. They also equally unaware of (Neo-)Sergianism and how devastating this phenomenon has been for the Russian nation and the Russian Orthodox Church.
In most cases these folks would be worthy of compassion, really, as they often are financially desperate (I know that for a fact) or, alternatively, they were “somebody” many years ago but now nobody cares about them (if only because they are completely out of touch with reality).
So next time you see a title click “Putin kidnapped by Netanyahu – Zionist double substituted of real President!!!” or “Thousands of holy Russian spetsnaz-monks about to launch a Orthodox jihad-crusade to liberate Constantinople and Jerusalem!!!” – please don’t ask me to debunk this. I just don’t have the time. Ditto for “S-300 don’t work” themed nonsense.
I also think that our community ought to simply ignore such silly nonsense.
On the top right of the Saker Blog there is a drop-down menu entitled “News Sources”. It contains an (incomplete) list of English-language news sources which I recommend to my readers. If one of these news sources writes something you want me to react to, please email me and I will try my best to reply in a timely manner. But if a source is not on my list, there usually is a very good reason for that, at least in most cases (in some cases this is this can be due to a simple oversight on my part, so don’t read too much into this either!).
Finally, there is the issue of what happens when some major development takes place (like a military attack, or a disaster). The very FIRST thing which inevitably happens is an explosion of rumors, 99.999999999999% of them totally unsubstantiated. Frankly, any serious analysis has to wait long enough for at least some, crucial, facts to become known. So please be especially skeptical of everything and anything you hear right after such an events takes place. Give it at least 24 hours (though 48 would be better), and then see what serious analysts have to say about it.
And please always keep in mind this basic rule of thumb: clickbaiters are never experts and experts are never clickbaiters.
It’s that simple, really.
PS: important addendum – just like with my previous post about hit pieces, I do NOT want ANY discussions about clickbaiters by name (of any specific author or website). First, I have no interest to polemicize with them and, second, let’s not give them any more visibility. Please remember that our community strives to discuss principles and ideas, not personalities. I ask the moderators to immediately remove any comments which would still try to mention specific names.