Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

When Headlines Go Wrong

The good news? People read the CustomScoop blog. That bad news? People read the CustomScoop blog.

I wrote a post this morning focusing on some new features of our service that I have been finding of great value to my personal efforts to monitor and understand conversations online. They saved me time, made me more efficient, and hopefully will make me more effective in what I do.

But what most people reacted to first was the headline of the post. I had tried to play on words a bit and probably ended up being a little bit too cute for my own good. What was the headline? It was “CustomScoop Sucks In Search Results and RSS Feeds.”

Now I figured that some people would see the CustomScoop sucks part and get drawn in by that — we’re all curious about the negative. And it being on the CustomScoop blog itself would make it feel a bit like a man bites dog story, right?

I assumed that after that initial inference most people would quickly get the fact that it was really a phrase (“sucks in”). It turned out I was wrong. Most folks thought I had just been careless in selecting a headline and didn’t realize that I was deliberately playing on words.

I had actually considered using punctuation when I first published the post to help tell that story better, but I didn’t find anything I really liked. Here are some of the things I considered:

  • CustomScoop Sucks … in Search Results and RSS Feeds
  • CustomScoop Sucks (in Search Results and RSS Feeds)

Ultimately I ended up updating the headline in the post to read: CustomScoop “Sucks In” Search Results and RSS Feeds.

In any case, it’s a good reminder that the way an author or editor perceives a headline may not be the way that the audience does.

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