Another dot in the blogosphere?

Titles are important

Posted on: June 3, 2018

The title I wrote above is ambiguous. Am I referring to social titles or headlines?

This tweet — the title of an article — is ambiguous and misleading.

The article claimed that Singapore is the best country for children to grow up in.

The Twitter comments and responses were what you might expect. People did not read the article and focused on taking the idea down based on what they already believed.

Reading the article, you find out that Singapore held the top spot with Slovenia, so the title is inaccurate. It was not the only “best”.

More importantly, what constituted “best” was largely due to medical and nutritional advancements, and modern socio-cultural norms. None of the eight indicators (see screenshot) was about schooling, freedom, play, etc. The latter are also factors that you might consider as positives for children to grow up in.

The title of the article was misleading because it was designed to conceal instead of reveal. It was designed to titillate the reader. It was clickbait. But if critical readers clicked-through, they would see the article for what it actually was.

How many people actually clicked through to find out?

The clickbait did not work. Sure, it might have got some people to read the article — if they could get past the paywall — but it did not inform or change the minds of those who did not and could not get past the title.

So titles are important just like tweets are important. They should succinctly and accurately represent what you want to say. If you do not, you perpetuate lazy writing among your writers or editors, and breed cynicism instead of skepticism among your readers.

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