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Dumb people: the new audience

When the reader change so much, how far should you go to adapt?

     
4:11 pm on Jul 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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This is related to writing content and SEO, it's seems the new challenge on writing for people (not algorithms) who are becoming increasingly dumb. Websites needed to adapt to new technologies so responsive (adaptive) websites were created for that exact reasons, captchas were created to filter bots, robots filing your forms or web-form-attacks, now it seems we need captchas for people, to filter the quality or specific characteristics of our audience.

- This is part I - describing how from creating content and I also moved to filtering visitors, making a bit difficult the experience of contacting me, making it difficult to make questions, making it difficult to engage. Sounds contradicting, it's not. This is more of an intro, given that many are already aware of this you can jump to the next post where the core of the topic is.


- - - - - - - - -


We might loose traffic, or we might be getting more traffic but the wrong one. It's no secret: people in general are becoming increasingly dumb.

The content some of my websites worked really well in general writing, from the general to the specifics, introducing people to a well defined concept. At times I wrote pieces going straight to the specifics, I experienced diff results for that, it worked, and I understand it was due to diff public and also diff situations. I was creating content adapted to a general public and also offering very specific articles in those websites.

At some point the rules changed, the traffic, the comments and questions for readers. I no longer had to work on good content (the kind you find on good books, sort of speaking) and noticed I had to put effort on a writing style that would be difficult to misinterpret things. Suddenly I wasn't writing content for reading only, I was creating content to avoid confusions. Confusions? I couldn't even understand why people were getting confused. Something as simple as a message to filter buyers on some website stating "please don't ask, we don't sell X services" didn't work, that's when I couldn't deny something else was going on. Suddenly I found myself trying to emulate the mind of someone who had poor reading skills.

After some experiments I decided to just ignore such changes, I refused to adapt the writing and style for dumb people. Did this affect my traffic? a bit. Did this affect my position on search engine results? yes. And I noticed competitors climbing positions but their content was pure garbage. I made some tests and shared some content with diff people, they were very attracted to the pictures yet many of them weren't reading the content, on the other hand my website had good pictures and good content, but the density was different. The general difference is competitors were posting articles based on the "10 best places to..." and that's all. I had a difficult moment, but despite the metrics (likes on the articles) they were not really buying anything.

Those websites did something different than what I was doing: I don't post the messages sent by readers, they do. The messages were kind of similar. Some article (of the competitor) could be talking about some concert on December, and this was posted on the title, intro and content, yet people were asking on the comments "what's the date? when?" if that's not being stupid, then I don't know what it is. So I refused to change my content to new writing styles, you can do that to increase your positions regardless of the algos on search engines making no sense, but you shouldn't sell to dumb people.

"You shouldn't sell to dumb people", wait, isn't all money... green?, yes and no. Creating content and sells for that kind of people means trouble. If they have a hard time buying hard disks when the sign says "hard disks US$1 each" and still ask for the price, imagine when one hard disk fails what kind of user experience and customer service they expect? it's like talking to monkeys. So in many areas this is not good business.

- End of part I -

You might agree or disagree, you might see it or not, perhaps you get the idea that I'm just expanding an essay, I'm not. Perhaps you are part of the problem and expect the best 10 tips for money making websites.
5:57 pm on July 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You know, there are adults, of all ages, who claim the Earth is flat ...
1:51 am on July 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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This millenial generation....

If you know how to read a calendar manually you can be a youtube star. Enough said.
5:03 am on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'm going to expand on my last post. While true I don't think a joke is appropriate with what is happening. There's a little SEO in this as well so read on...

I don't think school is teaching much about population and demographics anymore
<snip>

So what does this have to do with websites and stupid people?
Well, for starters, they aren't stupid. Although the challenges facing humanity today are going to continue to become even more impossible without better leadership than we have available anywhere today... you can't expect people with no life experience to suddenly show up in your country and have the same understandings, beliefs, skills but that's not due to mental inferiority, it's due to less opportunity.

What you can do with the information you provide via your site is to make sure it's digestible for those newcomers. In Canada, for example, you should consider adding Somali as a language option and not just French and English.
<snip>
This is too long and getting political but... be nice, get your site friendly to everyone even if they don't speak English, i'm pretty sure that right now Google is even rewarding this too.

[edited by: goodroi at 10:18 am (utc) on Jul 26, 2019]
[edit reason] Let's please stay on topic. [/edit]

3:17 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If you know how to read a calendar manually you can be a youtube star.

hum... read-read... as long as there are more images, than text...
2:32 pm on Aug 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I will add one thought. Maybe people don't want to read your copy and/or they may not believe your copy so they want to talk to a real person. So if you want sales (this assumes you have a product or a service) you better have excellent customer service to go along with that website or else...

Don't be lazy. Serve your customer well.
11:32 pm on Aug 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We ought to be more realistic...

People aren't dumb, they have just had dumb educations and expectations drilled into them. That and a naturally lazy fair (pun in there somewhere) attitude when not in the real world (ie, on a device).

Genetically (via evolution) humans are geared to sight and sound, fight or flight, and urge to reproduce. Language and reason are a side benefit that CAN be nurtured to higher levels and be very profound ... but that's not the current social context in the race to the lowest common denominator of equality ... so any result that answers a question is something that did not need to be LEARNED ... and in that regard people actually ARE becoming less capable, more complacent, more demanding, because nothing has to be learned if it can be found on the web/phone.

People are not dumb, they are just taught dumb things.
5:18 pm on Aug 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We ought to be more realistic...
+
People are not dumb, they are just taught dumb things.

I have to disagree here and will stick to be more realistic. Intelligence is still something in discussion on what it is and how to measure it, yet there are standards and easy to agree levels. As I tried to point out before, there is a generalization as if every single human being was somehow a computer with different OS but slightly similar capabilities, in the same sense as people disregarding mental illnesses and learning disabilities.

Anyone who ever was involved in teaching (I know I did) can remember cases of simple things, where it didn't matter how hard you tried to explain specific people, teenagers or adults: they just wouldn't understand those simple concepts.

Dumb became - diff abilities
Stupid became - they are not in the mood, the teacher or reading is dumb and boring
Competence - everyone can be whatever they want to be

The reality of mental illnesses and learning problems in adults who already graduated from school and even university is a reality. People who have a terrible reading comprehension, people who can't write, people who can't actually build simple arguments and conclusions. Reading is described in many areas as the way we educate our brain to understand concepts, and writing... is considered a look inside our brain on how we structure our thoughts and analysis.

I've been trying at times to point out things outside the tech world, as in psychology and educational realities. Just as there are professional designers and coders, there are also professionals in the matters of the mind who won't deny there is people who are actually dumb, or stupid. The term stupidity actually exists not just as an insult or hot word.

I get, at the end of the day the idea of lots of people nowadays avoiding the fact that there are incapable human beings, because it's better to say "we all can do it, come on!". It's not just a reality in terms of how the brain works, it's also a reality of people who can't do things, expecting people who can... to lower the level of work, of readings, the level of difficulties.

At the end of the day each person can get to a different conclusion, but we can't deny the sad truth of also... the low quality of posts invading the forum from... X specific periods of time. It just doesn't make the forum fun or a source of learning anymore. It's... increasingly difficult to get it running. I surprise myself not just for the low quality of material (it's ok, not every post should be genius) but what truly amazes me is the leve of self confidence as if it was the top solution to the problems, while most of those comments are just... nothing, we could erase them and nobody would miss them. But still, low quality post with amazing levels of self confidence.

It's sounding like a rant, it's not. It's the fact that people want to avoid the truth of recognizing the low level of quality on readings or specially writings (posts).
5:46 pm on Aug 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor: accidentally while searching for something else I just found something interesting:

tangor: One way to engage readers is to write something they can read!

I agree, but what if they just can't read? or if their reading skills are terrible? they just don't qualify as readers anymore. The path of lowering the quality or level of "difficulty" on our work for their benefit it's a high price to pay. After all easier and simple readings exist as part of basic education in schools, and that's not our goal if we are addressing adults.

But that is just my opinion.
7:56 pm on Aug 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@explorador ... many points I can agree with, but the premise that people as a whole are dumb is not one of them.

Mental illness is exactly that, an illness (virus of the brain which upsets the system just as a virus on a computer upsets that system)

Educational levels ... that's the fault of others, not the individual (and the most likely reason for less desirable outcomes in ability)

Actual abnormalities of the brain which affect cognitive abilities, generally accident or genetic, for which all compassion and patience is begged.

In context with the web and how webmasters interact with the users and vice versa, as users being categorically "dumb" is pure nonsense.

As for my quote above, restoring context is meaningful in that the webmaster should write to their audience, not some standard above general education, interest, or academia.

If you write like a documentary your audience will be smaller. If you like like an action film, your audience will be larger.

I blame educational outcomes for the lack of enterprise on the side of users. They have not enjoyed REAL educaton for at least two generations, and the results are becoming quite obvious. When social and emotions are what is taught and not critical reasoning and standard tools of logic and mechanics (math, grammar, "how to learn"), you get users driven by desires and not commonsense.
9:46 pm on Aug 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If the people who visit your website can't effectively utilize the content they find there ...

maybe you are targeting the wrong audience, or are simply unable or unwilling to communicate effectively to the audience for your topic.

It is not always the readers fault.
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