I was reading the article about Oscar Pistorius' outstanding traffic fines. It wasn't particularly interesting, but then I read the comments on the article. And then that wasn't very interesting either, but what did get my interest was the amount of comments, and the nature of the comments.
99% of the comments (with the exception of my trolling, sorry) were about how nobody wanted to read it. Which is ironic, since everybody read it. Confused? I was.
Apart from just counting the amount of comments, there are various ways of tracking which websites are viewed. Easy to implement, it tells the website owner which pages of his website were visited, how long, if the user arrived from another place in his website, or outside (for instance, if I emailed a link of a good story to one of my friends). Also, you will know which OS (Windows, Mac, Linux, Cellphone) they use, which browser (IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome), and on which of the ads on the page you clicked. More nerdy information are also available, but you get my drift...
All of this information is then used to develop more websites that draw as much attention as possible. How many news related sites are there in South Africa? Plenty. Which one is listed at the top when you "google" (this word is a verb now) "News South Africa"? Look closely, the links at the top are highlighted, in which means they are paid for advertisements. The first link is News24. Now, News24 did not put the link there, the order of the placement is decided by Google. The most relevant and popular site goes at the top. So that means that most South Africans use News24 as their favourite source of news online.
Now then, dogs love attention. Good attention is preferred, bad attention will also do. For instance, your dog piddles on the wheels of the brand new Mercedes that the annoying visiting family just bought. (They only visit when they buy new cars or arrive back from a boat cruise.) You "scold" the dog, saying "bad doggie" in the same voice grandmothers use to talk about their 1 month old grandkids. Guess what happens next time a new car arrives?
Websites are the same. Whether you just click on them and complain about how it wasted your time by clicking on them in the first place, all the stats will show that you clicked on it in the first place. This is why News24 is at the top of the list. Most people use News24, and that is why Google takes an educated guess and think that the person made the search would also rather want to use it.
And the way that websites make money, is by getting opened. (You, the user, do not usually pay. I will explain now.) Why you clicked on them, doesn't matter. Think back 10 years or so, when prolific popups ruled the internet. You would open a website to look at a funny picture, and suddenly you would be flooded with Russian Brides, online dating proposals, and blue pills. These days, they are more under control. The reason is that back then, the website owners got paid for each of the ads that they could show you. (Very little, usually between $0.01 and $0.005 per ad.) People then started to avoid these sites, because they slowed your internet experience, and used your bandwidth, which was way more expensive back in the day. That meant nobody clicked on them, and they did not make money any more. Sort of like Darwinism. These days, ads are used with more moderation. The person who places the ad, pays for the privilege to display the ad on the website that you opened. And going back to the information that is gathered everytime you click on a website, attempts are made to display ads that you are more likely to click on. Sometimes not so succesfull, but still. If you are an online spender, you will get more shopping sites, etc.
Now I am going to speculate somewhat, and my thoughts are as follows: Anybody who has viewed any articles on News24, has probably read the Oscar Pistorius story. Most people have read all the stories, (The Good, the bad and the irrelevant). Yes, you all said it was irrelevant, but only after opening the website. And then saying bad doggie. This means that Oscar is worth his weight in gold. Because if his name is tied to a story, it will attract attention. The site will be opened. Challenge completed.
Apart from these worldly thoughts, I will now become a little more philosophic still. Think of all the news stories that gets published. Just check the "Most Read/Most Commented" list at the top of the site. This is who we are. And by 'we', I am saying those literate enough to use the Internet, those who care enough to make a comment, those interested enough in South African news to bother to read it. This is what we are thinking about, this is what we talk about with our friends, this is what our children hear when we open our mouths and type our keyboards.
Good or bad, this is the mirror we see ourselves in when we choose which link to click on when the News24 site is opened.
In conclusion, if you want your dog to behave, you have to give attention when he does something good, and ignore him when he does something bad. The same goes for the internet and news sites.
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