This is delightful. It's the much funnier, more elaborate version of "don't feed the trolls", an admonition that goes at least back to the days of Usenet, and remains important to this day.

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This is great. You should make it public

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For Scott's longer write-up of this idea, see https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

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I like this but the rhythm - lack of rhythm, that is, unless I'm missing something - threw me a bit.

Is there a tune I should match it to in my head?

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*looks around*

Oh, you're talking to me. Got it, I'll do better. :)

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Funny enough Ryan Long just posted a video this morning making fun of a litany of vice articles, and the entire time I was wondering if those articles only get circulation from people making fun of them.

I am happy that this post was good on purpose.


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This was fun. I’d make it a children’s book if I had DALL-E access

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Coming less than 10 minutes after I clicked on a link just to read something I knew would piss me off… I suppose this is prescient.

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mostly identical thought:


more serious commentary: we still make most of our choices with our meat brains; once we can better encode _our own values_ into computers, we can use the computers to make choices for us in ways that line up with our own values

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The key question is: what is the cumulative social outcome of a contagious outrage extensively used by (social) media over the last 5-10 years? I wouldn't be surprised if it served as a self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy, significantly contributing to the polarization, depression/anxiety rates, and people actually drifting towards these nonsensical ideas. :(

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My question is still: what if we ... didn't encourage that? I'm not sure we can stop the likes of Business Insider from writing bad-on-purpose content, but we might be able to stop 'the algorithm' from interpreting those clicks as a signal to promote the content further.

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This is great. That is all. I hope you post it without a paywall eventually, so I can share it with people with a clear conscience. :-)

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I agree, this should be posted for all to see. Would do a lot of good if it went even slightly viral.

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Well, it's better than Moldbug's poems.

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You know, I wonder if this is a problem we can outsource to AI. I'd love to have an AI assistant that would read the Internet for me, and return only the non-clickbaity parts (so, 0.01%). Of course, there's a danger that the adversaries would employ AI to generate clickbait, as well (more so than they do already), and we'll end up in an arms race culminating in the Singularity... but... is that really such a heavy price to pay ? :-/

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Scott continues his quest to turn his blog into a Kipling appreciation society, I see.

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Kipling for the Very Online set. I love it.

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What does it mean?

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Should be lyrics of a punk tune.

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Excellent! Just to confirm — you did write this poem, right, Scott?

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Good. Yes. I like it. Now we need a poem for the danger of "It's good on purpose to make you click". That one may be even more insidious, since it can make you feel virtuous even though it substitutes rational action towards fulfilling your own utility function by trapping you in someone else's beautiful mental explorations and furthering theirs. Not that I would speak from experience :)

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I'd love to have this translated into my language so that I could recite it whenever my parents show me some terrible toxoplasma-of-rage-filled article about wokes in USA, bureaucrats in EU, etc. Unfortunately, the idea of me translating (or writing) such a poem is so above my head it's funny.

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Something about this gave me strong Gods of the Copybook Headings vibes, with a similar sense of "Oh, I've learned something useful just by having something obvious beaten into my brain more."

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Turns out Mel Brooks was into something with The Priducers.

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Jun 7, 2022·edited Jun 7, 2022

I'd like to have a go at translating it into Dutch, but who are 'the frogs and the pinks' in the third line?

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Forgive my ignorance. Is "It's bad on purpose to make you click" a well known phrase? I remember reading it on Twitter in response to the New Yorker article about SSC, but have not seen it since.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

Here, guys, have some Dunciad, by Alexander Pope -- about the flood of dullness in his day quenching the fires of intellect and inspiration. I love his vindictive passion at the end!

In vain, in vain,—the all-composing hour

Resistless falls; the Muse obeys the power.

She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold

Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old!

Before her Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,

And all its varying rainbows die away.

Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,

The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;

Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!

Lo! they dread empire, Chaos, is restored;

Light dies before they uncreating word:

They hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall:

And universal darkness buries all.

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Jun 8, 2022·edited Jun 8, 2022

I had a go at making a Dutch translation. I can't figure out how to separate the stanzas though, or how to make things italic:

Terwijl je de kronkels van Twitter doorkruist

En je trekt door de bergen van Zuck

En rechts en links overstelpt je met links

En de links zijn modern gezegd ‘ruk’

Als de redditors zeggen ‘lees dit eens’

Als de TikTokker tokkelt en tikt

Houd dit dan steeds in je gedachten:

’t Is met opzet zo slecht dat je klikt.

Echt, geen mens gaat het geloven

Het wordt heus geen trend, nationaal

Een gekkie in Gein met een ziekelijk brein

Heeft iets doms gezegd. Einde verhaal.

Een stagiaire op een redactie

Heeft de hele zooi overgetikt

En nu staat het vooraan in de kranten

Met opzet zo slecht dat je klikt.

Iemand die denkt dat-ie slim is

Vindt dat kinderen hinderen zijn

Of dat je ‘geprivilegieerd’ bent

Als je loopt met je hond aan de lijn

Kattenliefhebbers zijn nazi’s

En lezers van boeken getikt

En zonsondergangen transfobisch

’t Is met opzet zo slecht dat je klikt.

Als je pagina’s volschrijft ertegen

Met een lijst van hun leugens erin

Dan lachen ze als een hyena

Want die aandacht die is naar hun zin

Als je blijk ervan geeft ze te kennen

Dan hebben ze jou al gestrikt

Laat ze dus stikken door niet meer te klikken

’t Is met opzet zo slecht dat je klikt.

Met deze mantra verdrijf je

De demonen van Mara en Baal

Gesproken verjaagt hij problemen

Gedacht wordt hij zorgen fataal

’t Is een zwaard om illusies te doden

Dat iedere leugen verschrikt

Schrijf het dus maar op je voorhoofd:

’t Is met opzet zo slecht dat je klikt.

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Can we get this on a t-shirt?

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The psychosecurity essay written in the style of "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" we all needed.

But seriously, thank you so much. This piece is incredibly important, and it needs to be amplified.

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I couldn't help myself and set this to music. Hope you don't mind. This video is unlisted so that it should only be accessible from here. Of course, I'll take it down upon request. https://youtu.be/J1boM_6tFbk

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Jun 26, 2022·edited Jun 26, 2022

> No actual person believes it

> It isn't a national trend

This is where you lost me. My father believes it all. He probably didn't in the 90s, so it's a trend. His brother died of Covid, his favorite televangelist Marcus Lamb died of Covid, so of course he's more convinced than ever that vaccines are the REAL threat. This is just the latest. He put a button on the BACK of my phone to protect my brain from the harmful EM rays it generates. He hates Obamacare but has probably relied more on health insurance payouts for Mother than anyone else I know. I sent him the book Scout Mindset; he said the author "overthinks things", but that I should read the book again while pondering if the antivaxxers might be right (this, he thinks, is the trick to making me change my mind, rather than evidence). Finally, he says, I don't know what a "scout mentality" even is.

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I still think about this regularly, and am so grateful it exists to console me when I see a headline like "Yes, slavery is on the ballot in some states." This piece is easily worth the price of my subscription unto itself. At some point I hope you'll make it public.

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My attempt to make it scan better:

As you travel the sewers of Twitter

As you pass through the Lands of the Zuck

And the frogs and the pinks overwhelm you with links

And the links overwhelmingly suck

When the Redditors ask if you've read it

When the TikTokkers talk and then tic

Remember this fact, before you react:

It's awful on purpose to get you to click.

No actual person believes it

It isn't a national trend

Some loony in Maine with a turd for a brain

Said some idiot thing, that's the end

Some intern from Williams or Amherst

Wrote all of it up, real slick

And now it's displayed, on WaPo's front page,

But it's stupid on purpose to get you to click.

Some galaxy-brainer in Brooklyn

Says that kids should be thrown in a bog

Or that you have "revealed your white privilege"

If you don't let them murder your dog

Or that liking cats makes you a Nazi

Or that reading books makes you a dick

Or that all sexual acts are transphobic attacks:

It's outrageous on purpose to get you to click.

If you shoot back a twelve-page rebuttal

With a categorized list of their lies

They'll laugh like demented hyenas

As they watch the engagement scores rise

If you even admit their existence

Then you've fallen headfirst for their trick

Let them rot in their lair as you starve them of air

'cause it's garbage on purpose to get you to click.

This invincible mantra will banish

All the demons of Mara and Baal

When spoken, all troubles vanish

When thought, all sorrows will fall

It's a sword that defeats the illusion

And cuts it right through to the quick

Tattoo this refrain on the front of your brain


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If the author says outgroup is making them sick

If the headline is someone just being a dick

If you follow the link then you fell for the trick

It's just bad on purpose for making you click


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This doesn't scan, Scott.

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I love the sentiment and most of the poetry. I am bothered by the way the crucial refrain does not seem to scan! What about, instead, "It's meant to be bad so you'll click"? I think the message still comes through, and it fits better with the verse.

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