Whether to increase traffic via article clicks, or to wow the prospective viewers with their ability to tackle such questions, sports bloggers everywhere are using the same technique. Instead of drawing a reader in with their title they make it ambiguous in the form of a question. Is this method truly a compelling way of drawing readers in?
Hey sports bloggers, could you mask your opinion in the form of a question?
Yes or No?
As if the bloggers were contestants on Jeopardy this trend keeps bloggers answering your questions.
Answer: “This future Hall-of-Famer who plays shortstop for the New York Yankees is the key to their success. The Yankees have to hope that he has a mostly healthy year if the pinstripes are going to compete for the competitive AL East.”
Question: Who is Derek Jeter?
Now I have not seen the title, “Who is Derek Jeter?” but I have no doubt that the title would be used except that it does not have enough searchable terms, but that’s a different story. The title of that article would likely be “Is Derek Jeter the Key to Success for the New York Yankees?”
The answer: Yes.
I don’t even need to read the rest of the article. I know from the headline that there are only two ways this article can go and that the content is likely to be self-indulgent. This is almost always the case with yes or no question headlines because very few people need 250 words or more to answer a yes or no question.
Answer: The Kessinger household awoke to a startling discovery. When trying to eat their morning breakfast cereal they realized that something was not right. The carton sitting on the counter was not very heavy. The story that led to this development is long and drawn out… (Etc.)
Question: Are we out of milk?
In case it was lost in the content of that very striking paragraph lead about the milk carton, the household in question was in fact out of milk. Now very few people want to read an entire story about milk problems or opinions on the factors leading to the milk cartoon being empty. Yes or No questions do not provide adequate opportunities for critical analysis, nor do multiple-choice questions, but there exists a prevalence of such posts.
Maybe I’m in the minority who is not compelled by an article title that asks a simple question. Perhaps my newfound elitism is finally showing as a blogger. I know many writers, good writers, who are perfectly content with a title like, “Is Peyton Manning better than Tom Brady?” However I would be much more compelled with a title like “Peyton Manning and Tom Brady Arm Their Battleships for Another Round.” Even if the articles are exactly the same, as a reader I am much more compelled by the second title. I am much more willing to give the blog a chance.
In an Internet age with ever growing bloggers and prophetic voices vying for readers’ attention and the Tweeters of the world giving their opinion in 140 characters for less, a flat title can flat line blog traffic. I believe in the idea of always questioning the unanswered questions of our time, even in sports, but questions at the beginning are unsettling for a reader. Use your authority, save the questions for more trivial pursuits.