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Linkbaiting = Propaganda 2.0

Posted on 5.03.2007
Linkbaiting = Propaganda 2.0
The 11 Styles of Linkbait

Easily one of my least favorite and simultaneously most favorite terms in the past six months or so has been linkbaiting. While it might seem like an accurate depiction of what actually happens between the mind of a marketer and the click of a consumer, it's demeaning, rendering prospects to a status of wide-eyed dopey fish. But fish look for food the same way humans look for information - the ripest, tastiest morsels from the deepest parts of the pond. When you cast your lure, your bait better be worthy of those creatures in the pond, or those prospects just won't bite.

Assertions: A commonly used method of linkbaiting, assertions are enthusiastic and often energetic statements that are presented as fact although typically contain little in the way of explanation or proof. Any time an advertiser states that their product is the best without providing evidence for this, they are using an assertion. Assertions force readers to accept statements without question; always a dangerous proposition. The subject, ideally, should simply agree to the statement without searching for additional information or reasoning. Some examples:

Bandwagon: The Bandwagon linkbaiting method tries to convince the subject that one side is the winning side, because more people have joined it. Since our human nature dictates that we pursue victory and avoid defeat at all costs, readers are meant to believe that since so many people have joined, we'd be in the wrong if we didn't join too - compelling us to join too. When confronted with bandwagon propaganda, we should weigh the pros and cons of joining in independently from the amount of people who have already joined, and, as with most types of propaganda, we should seek more information.  Some examples:

Card stacking: Card stacking involves presenting only the information that is positive to an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it. Used in almost all forms of propaganda, Card stacking is extremely effective in convincing the public because for the most part the information is true, but it is also often dangerous because it omits important information.  Some examples:

Glittering Generalities: Glittering generalities are words that have different positive meanings for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. When used, these generalities demand the reader approve them without thinking because such an important concept is involved. Words often used as glittering generalities are honor, glory, love of country, and especially in the United States, freedom. When coming across with glittering generalities, we should especially consider the merits of the idea itself when separated from specific words. Some examples:

Lesser of Two Evils: The "lesser of two evils" technique tries to convince us of an idea or proposal by presenting it as the least offensive option. The "lesser of two evils" technique is often used to convince people of the need for sacrifice or to justify difficult decisions by convincing readers that the idea or proposal being presenting is the least offensive option. This technique is often bolstered by heaping blame on the "real" evil. One idea or proposal is often depicted as one of the only options or paths. Some examples:

Name Calling: Name calling is the use of derogatory language or words that carry a negative connotation when describing a competitor(s). Name calling attempts to arouse prejudice among the public by labeling the target something that the public dislikes. Often, name calling is employed using sarcasm and ridicule. Some examples:

Pinpointing the Enemy: Pinpointing the enemy is used extremely often during wartime, and also in political campaigns and debates. This is an attempt to simplify a complex situation by presenting one specific group or person as the enemy. Although there may be other factors involved the subject is urged to simply view the situation in terms of clear-cut right and wrong. When coming in contact with this technique, the subject should attempt to consider all other factors tied into the situation. As with almost all propaganda techniques, the subject should attempt to find more information on the topic. An informed person is much less susceptible to this sort of propaganda. Some examples:

Plain Folks: The plain folks approach is an attempt by the linkbaiter to convince the public that his views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person. The linkbaiter often attempts to use a common phrasing and terminology to add to the impression of sincerity and spontaneity. This technique is usually most effective when used with glittering generalities, in an attempt to convince the public that the propagandist views about highly valued ideas are similar to their own and therefore more valid. Some examples:

Simplification: Simplification attempts to reduce a complex situation to a clear-cut choice involving good and evil and is often useful in swaying uneducated audiences. Some examples:

Testimonials: Testimonials, which often come int he form of quotations or endorsements, attempt to connect a famous or respectable person with a product or item and attempt to connect an agreeable person to another item. Some examples:

Transfer: Transfer attempts to make the subject view a certain item in the same way as they view another item, to link the two in the subjects mind. This approach can be used in both positive an negative ways. By linking an item to something the subject respects or enjoys, positive feelings can be generated for it. However, in politics, transfer is most often used to transfer blame or bad feelings from one politician to another of his friends or party members, or even to the party itself. Some examples:
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