You’re probably well familiar with the clickbait Upworthy headline style we’ve parodied with sci-fi-worthy and Simpsons versions. Sometimes the clickbait headlines are hyperbolic; everything will restore your faith in humanity and you are thoroughly incapable of believing it. Other times there’s a “curiosity gap”, as when the headline ends with “what happens next will shock you” but you have to click to find out what the story is about. For more examples, just hit refresh on Upworthy Generator for awhile and despair.
These clickbait headlines have become popular because they successfully drive traffic (especially via Facebook) and they require little brainpower to slap together. Even CNN used a “curiosity gap” headline this week on a story about child murder, a move so tacky even the creator of Upworthy bashed them for it.
Now there’s a solution for these headlines. Downworthy, an open-source plugin, will replace the most common hyperbolic phrases in headlines with more realistic substitutes. At first we were intrigued. Then we were blown away.
Alison Gianotto programmed it, and here are a couple of the examples from her site:
Original headline: “This Guy Was Exploring His Grandpa’s Attic. What He Found Is Mysteriously Awesome…Whoa.”
Original headline: “I Had No Idea This Winter Phenomenon Even Happened. And Now I Can’t Stop Looking At It… Wow.”
Gionotto provided a list of some of the useful corrections Downworthy makes to hyperbolic headlines:
“Literally” becomes “Figuratively”
“Will Blow Your Mind” becomes “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”
“One Weird Trick” becomes “One Piece of Completely Anecdotal Horsesh*t”
“Go Viral” becomes “Be Overused So Much That You’ll Silently Pray for the Sweet Release of Death to Make it Stop”
“Can’t Even Handle” becomes “Can Totally Handle Without Any Significant Issue”
“Incredible” becomes “Painfully Ordinary”
“You Won’t Believe” becomes “In All Likelihood, You’ll Believe”
I literally can’t believe we’ve been able to live without this one weird browser plugin!!!EXCLAMATION POINT!