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Feb 24 2013

Oh, no, I’ve been doing it wrong!

Everyone is always complaining that the drama and controversy is ‘all about the traffic’ — that the only reason people take controversial stands on the internet is to stir up noise and get lots and lots of attention. I’ve been saying for years that it’s not true; you can get brief flurries of traffic by highlighting some infuriating topic, but it doesn’t really build an audience.

And now I learn the true recipe, and that I’ve clearly been doing it all wrong. Michael Nugent did a rough experiment to evaluate the popularity of sexist jokes, assessing the popularity of two pages with the same joke, but different photos.

…the joke with the sexist photo has received more than 43,000 likes and 24,000 shares.

But the exact same joke has also been posted on a different Facebook Page, without the sexist photo, and has received only 53 likes and 18 shares.

Taking into account that the first page has nearly four times the audience as the second page, that means that the joke is 200 times more popular when accompanied by the sexist photo.

Well, you can’t really make that kind of quantitative measure: traffic growth isn’t usually trivially linear. But clearly if I want more traffic, I have to stop promoting minority issues and begin pandering to social dogma, so I’m going to have to make a few changes around here.

The Monday Metazoan is going to become the Monday Meat Market, in which I post a photo of a bikini clad woman and encourage people to comment on her appearance (Send in your pictures! Or better yet, pictures of your ex-girlfriend!). The Wednesday Botanical will be the Wednesday Flower, where flower is a euphemism for female genitalia: we’ll be showing off gynecological closeups. We’ll still keep the squid around, sort of, for the Friday Cephalopod, but now it’ll be Tentacle Rape Friday, with nothing but hentai clips.

I know it will be tough on the regulars, and many of you might depart and never look back, but hey, 43000 ‘likes’ on one lousy joke? Think of the money! And all I’d have to do is throw away my self-respect and spend the next few years hanging out on the internet with assholes.

That’s how you get lots of hits on the internet. I’ve just been wasting my time calling out religious nonsense and sexism. (Hmmm…I could also suck up to religious people, there’s a big traffic base.)

51 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Monday Meat Market, in which I post a photo of a bikini clad woman

    How about more pictures of Teddy Beale and his flaming sword?

  2. 2
    Brian E

    So, Monday is Page 3 girl day?

  3. 3
    tigtog

    I see Thursday is free for Beefcake posts, to pander to the non-hetero male gaze (we wimmins no longer count, obviously, and besides we’re just not that visual).

  4. 4
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Fearless Leader is turning into Rupert Murdoch.

  5. 5
    Tom Foss

    Oh man I can’t wait to see people quote-mining this post as though you’re being serious.

    Well, I can wait, but I suspect that I won’t really have to.

  6. 6
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    PZ, come on! You gotta throw a bone to all the gay readers. Surely there is some controversy you can drum up that will get a rise out of them. You just can’t leave us hanging. Dovyou know how hard that will hit us to be excluded as you switch teams?

  7. 7
    Zeno

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I picked the wrong cow cover for my book. I should have gone with the body-painted blonde.

  8. 8
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Damn…that ‘v’ made it from my waist into that last sentence.

  9. 9
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Zeno, you too??!!
    Dang! Everwhere I turn, I see gay men getting shafted.

  10. 10
    Don F

    Tony, you say that like it’s a BAD thing!

  11. 11
    PZ Myers

    Gay men? Minorities. We’ll all about the bottom line.

    Beefcake photos? Sorry, no. They aren’t quite as good a draw for women as cheesecake is for men, so I can’t see the point…especially since the same men coming to stare at women’s bodies will freak out if I show a man’s body.

    You aren’t getting it. This is tapping into the same market that the lad magazines do — it’s only for privileged dudes who will blithely come to drool and say stupid shit. That’s a big opportunity.

  12. 12
    meursalt

    Really? This better not be some cruel joke.

    You had me at “hentai.” I’m not going anywhere.

    (Hmmm…I could also suck up to religious people, there’s a big traffic base.)

    You could always run some classic Samuel J. Butcher’s “Precious Moments” pics on Thursday, sandwiched between the womanly flowers and the tentacles, just to make sure you’re covering all the bases.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    Fearless Leader is turning into Rupert Murdoch.

    I eagerly await the bad comb overs and even worse reality tv shows.

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    nevermind, my brain fizzled and exchange murdoch for trump.

    there is no way to explain it.

  15. 15
    glodson

    Beefcake photos? Sorry, no. They aren’t quite as good a draw for women as cheesecake is for men, so I can’t see the point…especially since the same men coming to stare at women’s bodies will freak out if I show a man’s body.

    Yes, we can’t see the men photos, because us heterosexual males just cannot stand the site of another man, because we are totz manly.

    Now me and my privilege demand you make these changes so that I can continue to be blind to my own privilege as I reduce women to their body parts and pretend that there’s deep seated issues in our society that we need work out.

  16. 16
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Oddly enough, I have found that heterosexual men will come out in droves to look at other men’s bodies if it is a bodybuilding competition. I have been to a few amateur ones locally, and hetero guys are a big presence there.
    Maybe you could do a split screen or something.

  17. 17
    glodson

    But I need all my screen for the objectification of the women!

    Sorry, I know I can do that well. It is really easy to mimic one of these kind of guys. Just take the part that deal with empathy in your brain and tell it to fuck off for a few minutes.

    Of course, there’s a downside: you feel rather dirty for awhile.

  18. 18
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Photos of ex-girlfriends? Sorry, I’m like you. That’s now the wife…with a Knija Knitting Kneedle aimed at my spleen.

  19. 19
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    glodson:
    I honestly do not think I can turn off my empathy. No desire to try either. I am very happy to have it.

  20. 20
    chigau (違う)

    There are no women in Pharyngulaland (except Nerd).

    PZ
    Speeling error in your #11.
    “We’ll”

  21. 21
    mythbri

    The comments that Micheal Nugent posted from that joke with the sexist (probably non-consensual) picture are stomach-turning.

    But those are just jokes, and rape is totally hilarious because nothing is sacred, you prudes.

    Jackasses. (Referring to the disgusting commenters.)

  22. 22
    darwinharmless

    I do hate to have my low opinion of humanity confirmed like this, but the experiment you describe looks like empirical proof. The Internet is primarilly for assholes. So if you are going for numbers you need a chicks with dicks page. Those heterosexual bro really do get off on that stuff. Maybe include a Freaky Freaky day every once in a while with pictures of overweight people in leapard leotards shopping at Walmart.
    You include the gays by attacking them for existing. That gets lots of reposts on the gay sites, and spreads your name by getting the gays and liberals like the former PZ Myers to say nasty things about you, all good for the hits.
    (puts head down and cries silently)

  23. 23
    Susannah

    (Hmmm…I could also suck up to religious people, there’s a big traffic base.)

    Don’t bother; you’ll bring them in with the meat market and genitalia posts, anyhow. Only dropping by in the interests of research, of course.

  24. 24
    Ichthyic

    …and to read the articles.

  25. 25
    Ichthyic

    The Internet is primarilly for assholes.

    or perhaps really most of us ARE assholes and the internet is just exposing that.

  26. 26
    Steve Johnson

    This result with posting a picture is in line with stats that facebook compiles on the use of pictures and how people interact with them in general. In their “best practices” guidelines for businesses, facebook even mentions to “[p]ost photos and videos. Posts including a photo album, a picture or a video generate about 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement than the average post, respectively.” The post could have just been been titled “picture makes post 200 times more popular.” The discussion about what type of men are making the comments and about challenging online sexist comments is the important thing that should be highlighted here.

  27. 27
    Ichthyic

    The discussion about what type of men are making the comments and about challenging online sexist comments is the important thing that should be highlighted here.

    I’m sorry, I’m having trouble focusing on the content of your commentary here. Can you post a picture of a cat or something to help me?

    :)

  28. 28
    mythbri

    @Icthyic

    Pictures of kitties always get MY attention. ;)

  29. 29
  30. 30
    chigau (違う)

    Ichthyic and mythbri
    Are you trying to turn PZ into CC?

  31. 31
    mythbri

    @chigau #30

    Wait, PZ and CC are two different people?

    ;)

  32. 32
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    mythbri:
    They are two sides of the same sock…

  33. 33
    PZ Myers

    Weird fact: Chris & I have never been seen together, not even by each other.

  34. 34
    John Morales

    My idea is to make it known you encourage wooists in general and goddists in particular to partake of the Thunderdome.

    (I’m bored with the MRAs and antifems)

  35. 35
    apucalypso

    Always with the divisiveness..If you absolutely have to change the Monday Metazoan into the Monday Meat Market, how about pictures of swimwear clad people with some sort of interesting Metazoan…something for the all the people plus your core audience…or possibly everyone will be equally offended..

  36. 36
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @apucalypso:

    Bikini-clad ladies with tapirs?

  37. 37
    sillose

    not a regular talky person but semi-regular reader, and i dont see a problem with tentacle fridays.

  38. 38
    ShowMetheData

    Still doing it wrong

    Just bewbs – nothing above and nothing below – the way God made them except for baby factory outputs and the wondrous male insertion inputs

    /snark

  39. 39
    Jafafa Hots

    PharynguChan!

    (or PZddit?)

  40. 40
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    I’ve been saying for years that it’s not true

    See? More controversy to drive page views. Quit disagreeing with these people already.

    Also, I want pictures of bikini-clad protists, cephalopods, and whales. Obey me, as I am one of those all-knowing internet doodz.

  41. 41
    w00dview

    My idea is to make it known you encourage wooists in general and goddists in particular to partake of the Thunderdome.

    I want to see more libertarians. I always get the popcorn when a libertarian thread pops up. It is nice to have a space on the internet that actually challenges their crap. Also their temper tantrums are always a joy to watch when you refute them enough times.

    .

    PharynguChan!.

    Now that is an idea! Whenever a news story of Bill Donohue complaining about the poor persecuted vatican pops up, instead of an article refuting his nonsense just use a witty image macro that says LOL CATHOLIC CHURCH U MAD? Also PZ and Chris should constantly use the word “pwn”. It will be the most successful website in the atheosphere!

  42. 42
  43. 43
    DoofusMagnus

    Yep, I agree with Steve Johnson (#26). Images make a huge difference to how people regard things on the internet. If it was done again with a control image(s) we might get a better idea of the appeal of the sexist aspect of it.

  44. 44
    Ichthyic

    how about pictures of swimwear clad people with some sort of interesting Metazoan

    I thought that’s what Hentai Fridays were for.

  45. 45
    charlessoto

    Well, at least the atheist is into proper grammar.

  46. 46
    llbguy

    Internet: The Movie.

    (It’s about atheism and sex objects.)

  47. 47
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    They just assumed the FB accounts has similar distribution of people but because FB is self selecting this may not be true. Did they repeat the experiment with the other account getting the mld one? Did they do multiple tests? With the FB ranking thing how many actually saw the pictures in each? Far too many uncontrolled variables. Poor experimental design.

  48. 48
    apucalypso

    @Ichthyic:
    Let me rephrase: …some sort of interesting, non-cephalopod Metazoan.

    Though Katherine Lorraine’s suggestion of bikini-clad ladies with tapirs might qualify for a guest appearance on Hentai Friday, what with tapirs’ huge, prehensile penises and all…

  49. 49
    Rich Woods

    The Monday Metazoan is going to become the Monday Meat Market, in which I post a photo of a bikini clad woman and encourage people to comment on her appearance (Send in your pictures! Or better yet, pictures of your ex-girlfriend!).

    How about a pic of my ex-girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend? Does that hit the right buttons? If it helps, I can even steal it off the Daily Mail’s collection of celebrities’ under-age daughters in bikinis.

    Well, I could if I didn’t have a conscience.

  50. 50
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Drat. No does soaking suggestively in stewpots for us buckly bucks.

  51. 51
    freetotebag

    Mr. Nugent’s experiment is interesting but there just isn’t enough information about the two FaceBook pages to really draw any conclusions. He mentions in the fifth comment that he “didn’t link to the Facebook page because I don’t want to encourage the posting of such pictures” (which really doesn’t make sense as the pics were put on a page he moderates for the experiment yet he left them unavailable only for review).

    Also, as PZ mentions, I think his numbers are misleading because I doubt a page with four times as many viewers as another should expect only four times the links. I would imagine that the number of links would increase exponentially with a larger audience. I guess I’d have to see another study of how links increase with an increased number of viewers.

    I also have to point out that the lack of links to the pages and questionable numbers lead me to believe that there’s probably other important information that should be taken into account.

    It’s an interesting experiment to be sure but the fact that he made it impossible to review is disappointing.

    *Or is there a link that I missed?

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