Clickhole: A Cutting Satire of the Content Vacuum

American news satire giants The Onion have launched a new, bitingly satirical viral clickbait website in what feels like an attempt to both commentate on and overload the built-to-share content which has overtaken large swathes of social media.

Clickhole, whose strap line is because all content deserves to go viral – is a collection of inane Which Are You? quizzes, bizarre and ironic list articles, and hypothetical analyses of hypothetical situations. It’s fluff – empty, almost computer-generated (though too hilarious for that) content – and it’s in many ways indistinguishable from the “real” viral content clogging up our news feeds.

This type of content was always going to have its day, but it was always difficult to predict how it would happen. For a while there (and, still, here), every company and its dog was churning out excruciatingly-conceived 9 Reasons Our Brand Rocks pieces in the hope that their serious business could profit from the same swirl of hype as bland sentimentality and self-referential humor.

If Clickhole successfully manages to tip us over the edge of that echoing abyss, it will be another outright achievement for The Onion, who in their original news-satire guise have long been regarded as the most incisive commentators on narrative and content dynamics.

The dawn of built-to-share content witnessed countless sites spring up which served as nothing but shells for this content, with no editorial line and no relation between posts, just ad-filled landing pads for quick clicks and equally quick exits. The last 12 months in web content has been about filtering rather than accessing; our Twitter feeds are full, our Facebook feeds are saturated, our email inboxes are bulging, and we need a way to segment our content and access the best parts of it.

The lesson is that eventually, every lazy and overly-populist content strategy will be drowned in a sea that looks a lot like The only way to avoid it is to be honest and interesting in engaging with your audience and your target demographic. Not all content deserves to go viral.