Marcus Ranum posted an excellent rebuttal of the ‘clickbait’ gambit, so I’m reposting it here.
I automatically despise people who use the “clickbait” “to make money” argument. And here is why: it never seems to come from someone who is enduring economic hardship, and it implies that the person supposedly doing it is so desperate that they need the extra fractions of a cent they might get. If you’re a bestselling author and lecturer with an international stature with an estimated net worth of over $100 million, claiming that your detractors are pushing click bait amounts to asking “why don’t they eat cake?” (“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”) yes in the internet era there is money to be made with click bait, but it requires huge volumes such as that driven by celebrity selfie leaks and sex tapes. From the sound of it, bloggers such as those on FTb and Patheos make vastly less blogging than someone of Dawkins’ stature commands from a single speaking engagement. It’s like a professional football player responding to someone who criticizes their stratospheric salary: “well why don’t you become a professional football player, too?” Ultimately, to me, it reveals one as suffering from a uniquely modern disease: the affluenza of the nouveau riche – I’ve got mine, so you’re contemptible.
The click bait argument is also hypocritical at its core. It amounts to someone blogging or tweeting for attention in order to accuse someone else of blogging or tweeting for attention.
The only possible situational difference is the size of the channel – it would be extra distasteful if someone used their regular column in Vanity Fair to complain that a small-time blogger was click baiting their fan-base of 12,000 followers. In that sense accusing someone of click baiting amounts to yelling “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!” Which always says more about the insecurity and venality of the accuser.
Richard Dawkins, in other words, is attempting to dismiss arguments against him by saying that they were financially motivated — when the amount in question would be a rounding error on one of his investment portfolios. That is distasteful.
I will also add that I have voluntarily relinquished all income from FtB for the next few months, so I do not profit at all from any temporary surges in traffic. This was a decision made a month or so ago — my normal income is being donated to the network as a whole to help stabilize revenues to the newbies here. Dawkins did not know that, but still…it makes him even wrongerer.