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The Endless S[l]ideshow to Hell

They Lure You In and Don’t Want To Let You Go

The starry-eyed young lady in the above photo is the first image in one of those multi-page Internet slideshows that are there to devour your time. This one is about tattoos that people got and later regretted. (Actually, I think most tattoos are ultimately in that category.) You can view the slideshow by clicking here. I remember taking one slideshow this last week that purported to tell me my IQ. It had 100 pages, covered with “Hey look at me!” clickbait opportunities. There would be a picture of Oprah Winfrey, and I had to identify it as belonging either to Oprah Winfrey or a Gila Monster. In the end, I got 100% right, and was told I was probably a college professor. I never did get my IQ.

That’s not unusual. These slideshows are like carnival barkers trying to lure you in. According to the Business Insider website:

Practices like splitting articles into multiple pages or delivering lists via pageview-mongering slideshows have been with us since the early Web. I figured they’d die out quickly, but they’ve shown great resilience—despite being crude, annoying, ineffective, hostile to users, and harmful to the long-term interests of their practitioners.

There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of media executives who misunderstand how the Web works and think that they can somehow beat it into submission. Their tactics have produced an onslaught of distractions that are neither native to the Web’s technology nor inevitable byproducts of its design. The blinking, buzzing parade is, rather, a side-effect of business failure, a desperation move on the part of flailing commercial publishers.

The sad thing is that most of these links to slideshows are interspersed with real news and help pay to subsidize that news. Sometimes they are (inadequately) labeled as sponsored content; just as often, they aren’t.

Below is a rough graph of the effect on an Internet user who gets dragged into one of these seemingly endless slideshows (I almost said sideshows):

Units of “Microhate” Graphed Against Number of Pages in Slideshow

Business Insider concludes:

If you’re on a web page that’s weighted down with cross-promotional hand-waving, revenue-squeezing ad overload and interstitial interruptions, odds are you’re on a newspaper or magazine site. For an egregiously awful example of how business linking can ruin the experience of reading on the Web, take a look at the current version of Time.com.