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Sunday, February 10, 2008

A rant about ...

What is it with these websites hooked on the dangling ellipsis? You know what I mean: a headline, half a sentence then...

Here's a classic from TVNZ's TV On Demand offerings:


21 Oct
Rawdon Christie presents the latest episode of New Zealand's most influential…

Most influential what? You think the ... is tantalising? You think it's going to make me want to read more? You think I'm going to click through just so I can find out whether there's anything worth clicking through to?

Hell no! I'm not going to click through unless you give me a reason to. I'm busy, easily distracted, have the attention span of a gnat and no loyalty whatsoever - in other words a typical digital citizen.

You want me to click, tell me why! I don't need much, just a little abstract that gives me information, like who Rawdon Christie is, or what's in this epsiode of Agenda, or what's so great about Agenda. is another prime offender. From today's homepage:
The grief-stricken husband of a woman left for dead for seven hours after a hit-and-run says his wife… More
Says his wife what? Tell me, so I know whether I want to read the story.
Supersized wine glasses putting drinkers over the limit… More
Okay, but why the ... More. There's enough information there already for me to decide whether I want to read the story.

Yep, I know, the little ... makes life easier because it's automated - the CMS grabs the first x number of characters from the story's intro. And staffing is tight so the more automation the better. Right?

Well... not necessarily. Not if it drives your readers up the wall - and ultimately away. It doesn't take long for a seasoned web editor to turn round a web-friendly headline and abstract, and it makes a big difference to readers.

In fact, there's no reason why reporters couldn't get into the habit of writing a web headline and standfirst on every story they file, is there?

Rant over.


Simon said...

I kind of like the ellipsis. It reminds me of...


Julie Starr said...

Very funny:)

Anonymous said...

It's just far too easy to use, though....