The other major difference is the kind of writing that seems to get read on the interwebs. I'm reminded of the commotion in the 90's about the popularity of the "newspaper" (look it up, kids!) called USA Today. It was frequently criticized due to the nature of its short, snapshot articles and colorful infographics filled with empty calories. The "dumbing down" of America was not just Jim Carrey's fault.
USA Today still exists, of course, but now it's surrounded by even simpler sites and blogs and reddits and I don't even know what that last one is. But because I'm a quick study (it's only taken me twenty-some years) I've figured out what it takes to get read around here. And I'm going to start following these guidelines I've come up with all by myself--right after this post, of course. It's already too wordy.
14 Ingredients in Diet Soda That You Didn't Know Were There. Number 9 Will Make You Throw Up a Little in Your Mouth.
Titles: Titles require numbers. Any number, apparently. Those of you raised on Letterman's Top Ten Lists might think that you should use a good, round number, like 5 or 10 or 25 or 100 or, you know, 10. But any number works. Use 9. Or 27. Even 32. It doesn't matter, as long as the readers know how many items they will be exposed to before they click on that link.
Also, titles should indicate exactly what the article will tell readers, up to a point. No spoilers. In fact, the title should be a tease. A good title tells readers that if they click this link they will read about a man who had some really bad thing happen to him, but that something wonderful happened to him next. But DON'T TELL WHAT THAT WONDERFUL THING WAS! Not yet. Not in the title. If the title gave away the store, no one would ever click on the link.
A great title, incidentally, adds an emotional tease. Like how inspiring the thing was that happened next. Or how shocking. How much the reader will not believe what happens next. How much the writer cried. Or how speechless everyone is.
The Number of Words in This Article is Outrageous. Word 156 is the Absolute Worst.
Content: As stated above, I've already broken this rule, but I'm really counting on your discretion. Written content should never be too verbose. In fact, an article should not contain the word "verbose." Each item in the list indicated through your title should only include a few sentences of written language. For instance, this item I've called "Content" is now five sentences, and you've probably already stopped reading.
Something else vital to the written content are links. Lots of links. I'm not sure why, but maybe it's because the writer has written so little that the reader will require more information if they wish to learn anything at all.
A Bear Showed This Couple How to Care for Their Child. This is the Sweetest Video of a Mauling You'll See Today.
Visuals: Video is best. If an article isn't really an article, but just a conduit to someone else's previously published video, with perhaps a vague sentence explaining the grand import to how it has changed lives, then no one really has to read anything.
However, I've noticed that in lieu of a youtube or questionable news outlet video link, two other kinds of visuals will do the trick. Animated GIFs are fun and, best of all, animated. I don't know what a GIF is, actually, but when the dude on the skateboard won't stop hitting his groin on the railing until I scroll past the image, I think I've just seen a GIF.
And if you can't afford the bandwidth for animation, then a simple "meme" will suffice. Find a handsome picture of Ryan Gosling, type "Hey Girl," above his head, and there's no need to actually make a comment on the state of the union or how bad the new Transformers movie is because the meme is "So True."
You Won't Believe What They Allowed This Student to Say in Her Graduation Speech. Liberals Everywhere are Speechless. Some Conservatives Have Been Neutered.
Politics: I've deemed this a very important aspect of internet writing today. When writing an article that will be in any way political, you must be sure to first and foremost alienate anyone who may disagree with you. Begin with an insulting title about those thin-lipped liberals or those stringy-haired conservatives. The insults continue throughout the article, of course, but don't make any kind of coherent, rational argument because that's not what the interwebs are for. You just want to inflame opinions. There is no changing minds. Make your partisan point and get the hell out of there. Let the facebook comments do the talking for you.
Lesson Learned: You won't believe your eyes when you see what's in store for the future of Building Castles on the Beach. Post number 18 will take your breath away.