Geek Culture: The Clickbait Epidemic

I’m a bit of a Geek. I enjoy a bit of fantasy or science fiction from time to time. We all have fandoms we enjoy and are apart of. Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, Aliens, Predator, Transformers, Terminator, you get the picture. There’s a lot of fandoms out there in the world of Geek Culture.

It’s an interest. I am interested in Star Wars. And like many of you, I grew up on it. Since the age of five, it blew my mind like no other film before it. (Very few films I believe can do that) And when you are a fan of something, you follow it, you want to keep up to date with it. Star Wars news, Marvel News, Doctor Who news and so on. You are fanatic about it and want to be kept in the loop. Updates, developments, announcements etc. And like you as a fan, I like to know what’s going on in fandoms/franchises I’m interested in.

But is it just me, or is that getting harder and harder now? It’s like news of Geek Culture as become a lot like The National Enquire.

I’m going to say it how it is. There’s a lot of bullshit out there. Sometimes it feels like there’s more bullshit than news out there. And that’s pretty frustrating. Whether you’re a fan or a writer, or both for that matter. Because for some sites and channels, it’s not about news anymore. No, no, it’s clickbait. As Yoda would say: “The Quick And Easy Path.” Why do research, obtain evidence to back your piece with quotes, links and sources that can all be traced. So that your readers, your listeners, your viewers know the information you are reporting is concrete. When you can say: “inside sources told me” without a shred of evidence what so ever.

And this is happening not weekly, but daily across Geek Culture. Geek News is overshadowed by Clickbait Culture. In fact, I’d go as far to say it’s monopolised. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Tell me, have you ever seen this logo or site whilst on Facebook?

Image result for we got this covered

I’m willing to guess a majority of you have and that some of you know of this site’s reputation. Now I’m in five, maybe six dozen Facebook Groups involving Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Doctor Who and other Geek related fandoms. This site, “We Got This Covered” well for a start they ain’t got shit covered. But I’ll tell you what they do have covered: Reach.

Yes, reach. Now for anyone running an independent Geek site, what I’m about to inform may make you feel somewhat unmotivated, defeated. May make you question, what’s the point? Don’t worry, I’ve thought that too when I found this out too. The key is to get that feeling and flip it. What do you have that these types of Sites don’t?

We Got This Covered, like many sites has an Official Facebook Page to post their “articles” to their followers. A near 200,000 liked page. Keywords there: Official Facebook Page. They have (so far) sixteen others disguised as Fan Pages.

  • Sherlock Fans – 427K Likes/Followers
  • The Marvel Hub 1.2M Likes/Followers
  • Marvel Universe Rocks My World 1.1M Likes/Followers
  • DC Universe Rocks My World 490K Likes/Followers
  • Avengers Fans Live Here 211K Likes/Followers
  • Horror Lives Here 555K Likes/Followers
  • Avengers Infinity War Fans 924K Likes/Followers
  • Horror Forever 462K Likes/Followers
  • Star Wars World 291K Likes/Followers
  • Batman Fans Live Here 170K Likes/Followers
  • Deadpool Fans 651K Likes/Followers
  • Geeky Memes 835K Likes/Followers
  • Doctor Who Fans Live Here 55K Likes/Followers
  • The Arrowverse 115K Likes/Followers
  • Star Wars Fan 229K Likes/Followers
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 874K Likes/Followers

I wasn’t kidding when I said they’d monopolised it. That’s an audience well into the millions. With a reach of several million. No wonder fans from different fanbase keep on seeing this everywhere, it pretty much is. Though the latter page does appear to be a shared one.

And just because it’s a Star Wars “article” or a Marvel “article” doesn’t mean it’ll be just shared on the related page. Nope, it’s all mixed. Posts every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Quantity over quality on as many Geek related franchises as possible.

Tell me, if you are a Star Wars fan. How many times have you been seeing articles like this appearing?

It’s practically none stop. Do you know how many “TV Shows” Lucasfilm have been “Reportedly Developing” by We Got This Covered? A Yoda Disney+ Series, a Captain Phasma Disney+ Series, a Rose Tico Disney+ Series, a Darth Maul Disney+ Series, a Maz Kanata Disney+ Series, a Ewok/Endor Disney+ Series, a Finn & Poe Disney+ Series, a Thrawn Disney+ Series, a Knights of Ren Disney+ Series, a Jedi Fallen Order Disney+ Series, a Boba Fett Disney+ Series, a Qi’Ra & Lando Disney+ Series, a Darth Vader Disney+ Series and a Princess Leia Disney+ Series.

And with each of these “reports” there are no quotes, no links, or anything. Just a “Sources closes to We Got This Covered informed us” line. Not a shred of evidence to back up their reports. Speculation is NOT Fact. So don’t address it as fact. As you’ll have countless fans being hoodwinked. But do sites like We Got This Covered, CosmicBook News, Epicstream, Bleeding Fool, Bounding Into Comics care about that? No, they do not. They only are about the lining of their pockets through clickbait and misinformation.

You see there’s two (main) types of Clickbait. The first, classic misinformation. A headline that baits you to click. The promise of information or a development when there isn’t. And what sites like this will do is try and disguise it a little by bringing up information that is already public knowledge. So it can pass as believable. This of course gets some fans excited, that Star Wars, Marvel, Doctor Who, Terminator, Alien etc will be doing this. And then it doesn’t happen, because it was never happening in the first place. You got excited over nothing and now frustrated, annoyed that this news become something. Which leads me to the next type.

The second type of Clickbait. The type that’s designed to frustrate and annoy you. There’s a saying in the Media Industry: “That there’s no News, like Bad News.” There seems to be a lot more of that about. Why? Because unfortunately dishonesty, spinning, exaggerating and enraging spreads more. Thus more traction, more clicks, more views and more money. And it overshadows any Channel or Site that’s reporting the whole truth. It doesn’t seem to matter these days if you have someone’s whole quote, in it’s entirety for everyone to see. There are Sites and Channels out there, that will pick it apart, deliberately exclude parts of it, spin it thus changing the context of the narrative. And this has proven profitable to several Sites & Channels out there. Either for their own agenda or to line their own pockets.

To any Star Wars fan out there, you’ve most likely seen articles and videos on Galaxy’s Edge and that it’s a failure. These articles spread everywhere. There are Channels that do countless videos on it, gaining tens if not hundreds of thousands of views. Within hours, days even. And yet a video from a Channel with footage of the park during his visit, addressing quotes from Bob Iger to CNBC, just over 120 views, despite nearly having 5,750 Subscribers.

Both videos are listed as New, with similar words being used in their Titles. With the bottom video having additional information in it’s description. Both videos use the same source: CNBC. And yet are polar opposites. One is positive when addressing the information provided, the other negative, calling it unbelievable. Again only video providing footage of their attendants to Galaxy’s Edge as a reference.

One video has been made to inform, while the other has been made to spin. Again clickbait overshadowing information.

Let’s change the fandom/franchise for a bit. Let’s talk about Superheroes. They’ve been some of the biggest films recently. And it’s a sub-genre that’s had it’s ups and downs. Both Marvel and DC have experienced this. But both do well and have huge fanbases. This year alone, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame topped James Cameron’s Avatar. Becoming the Box Office Number One (un-adjusted) while DC have nearly reached a Billion Dollars with Joker from a twenty-five Million Dollar budget. Both incredible feats. But with fanbases as large as there, it’s fans are also subjected to clickbait.

DC for example, with the success of Joker, what’s next for Warner Bros?

As a fan you want to know, what’s next, what to look forward too. Well like Star Wars, We Got This Covered went through as many characters as possible. With headlines stating Warner Bros were developing Solo Movies for various characters. How many Solo Movies?

WB Developing a Standalone Mr Freeze Movie Outside the DCEU, WB Developing a Starfire Origin Movie for DCEU, WB Developing Poison Ivy Solo Movie Outside the DCEU, WB Also Developing Solo Two-Face Movie Set Outside the DCEU, DC Rumoured to be Developing Lex Luther Solo Movie and you can bet there will be more articles like them. And just like with the Star Wars Disney+ Series articles, there are no quotes, no links, no sources. Just the statement of “sources close” to We Got This Covered. This is just another example of taking advantage of a fanbase’s interest.

With Marvel it’s similar, but like Star Wars. It’s not just misinformation, its anything to stir the pot. Now if any Marvel fans are reading this, it seems to have become quite popular to see the words: Woke, SJW, Feminist Agenda, Ruin, Identity Politics, etc attached to Marvel, especially on YouTube. You have a lot of what people call Reactionary Channels now. And in order to stay relevant, they’ll use words like these for views. And like Clickbait Sites with their articles it’s quantity over quality. These Channels are desperate. Channels like: Geeks + Gamers, Worldclass Bullshiters, No Bullshit, That Star Wars Girl, Nerdrotic, John Talks, DVD Overlord, ComicArtist Pro Secrets and the many other copy and paste Channels like them. It’s all about stirring the pot. To create controversy, outrage and anger amongst their viewers through exaggeration and/or misinformation.

For example, the announcement of Marvel Phase 4 Films earlier this year. Jane Foster will wield Mjolnir as the new Thor in Thor: Love & Thunder. Well we know from the films, whomever is worthy can wield Mjolnir. Captain America did so in Avengers: Endgame, even harnessing the powers of a god of thunder. And like many events from the MCU, it’ll be based/adapted from stories and events from the Marvel comics.

But you want to stir the pot. Your desperate for attention. So you include terms like Woke, SJW, Feminised Agenda to your video’s title and rant angry to get the views. That Marvel is pushing an agenda, that it’s belittling of males (somehow). What about Blade? He’s making a comeback, the first two Wesley Snipe were good, the third not so good. But now he’s in a shared universe with other heroes and villains. But no, to these Channels, it’s Woke. Is it? Well no. Again these Channels are desperate for clicks, views and of course money. So they make a mountain out of a molehill because the word Muslim was used. And what was the reason behind this? Because some Sites referred to either the Actor or the re-introduced Character being Muslim. Mahershala Ali has a name. He’s an award winning Actor from his roles in both Moonlight and Green Book. So why go out the way to address him as “Muslim Blade”because of this religious faith?

Ohh I get it, because it’ll cause a reaction. An excuse to cause a stir online between people as your piece (video or article) spreads online as you reap the benefits. Taking one narrative and spinning it into another.

You’ll find that many of these types of Channels, they will use an article from a Clickbait site for their videos as “backing”. Sometimes it’s the other way around and the Clickbait site will use a reactionary video for an article. Despite either party lacking any concrete source.

A recent example of this would be Cosmicbook News reporting that “George Lucas is Saving Star Wars: Test Screenings Disaster“. Referring to a YouTube Channel, Overlord DVD (aka Doomcock). Both the Site and Channel claim there are three cuts of The Rise of Skywalker. A J.J Abrams & Kathleen Kennedy Cut, a Bob Iger Cut and a George Lucas Cut. Though neither show any evidence of this. No backing at all for said claims. No further links or anything. When you trace this story back, this is it’s origin?

The usual “Sources close to me informed me” line.

But why is there so much Clickbait in Geek Culture now? Why are these Sites and Channels doing this? Rather simple: Money. This is their business structure. Quantity over quality, misinformation over information. It’s not about informing fans anymore. It’s about getting as many views and clicks as dishonestly as possible. These Sites and Channels have made a business out of being dishonest for money. And their not going to stop because it’s proven lucrative for them.

So if that is their business plan. Quantity over quality, without a care for the countless fans from so many fandoms. Then it should only be a matter of time. With more and more fans commenting and calling out Clickbait. These Sites and Channels have created a demand for news with actual content.

There are countless independent Sites and Channels out there that cover Geek Culture in some shape or form. That do research, that put the effort in and use reliable sources to inform their readers or/and viewers. But they need help to get out of the shadow of Clickbait. Because it’s not fair if dishonest people are doing better than honest people. That’s why people reporting news in Geek Culture have become unmotivated. That it can feel like you’re up against an army of it.

But if they can get recognition this Clickbait Epidemic will begin to end. This is why it’s important for these Sites and Channels that do care about fans to start working together. Because if they were too, then they could overcome it.

You give fans the legit information and honesty your Site or Channel will gain a reputation that acknowledges it. You don’t need to be posting articles every hour or uploading several videos a day. Take your time and report news as it should be done.

Now to anyone in the Star Wars fanbase. I run a collaborated Group called: Star Wars Veritas, with several thousand members. With Moderators from various other Star Wars Channels, Sites and Podcasters. If you are tired of Clickbait and are struggling to find an audience when reporting news. You are more than welcome to join. Help boost your audience and get your content out there.

I’d recommend other Fandoms to start doing the same. Marvel, Doctor Who, DC, Harry Potter etc, take Geek Culture back. Be informative, be honest, but most importantly be professional.

If you have a Site or Channel in one of the many Fandoms or is about Geek Culture in general, look into collaborating with others, join groups and forums. Gain that reputation for being reliable, source checking, fact checking and you’ll do well. And if you don’t have a Site or Channel, but you follow one that does do that. Get the word out, give it a hand by sharing it and informing others about it.

The shadow of Clickbait in Geek Culture can disappear.

Written by: Connor Heggie