As an author of online articles, a prolific one to say the least, I have some troubling news, something that has been bothering me lately. You see, I get my news, perhaps like you in real time, and I write articles which involve a little Op-Ed which takes into account my worldly knowledge and observations. I am also very good about quoting sources, titles of articles, other authors, writers and the publications, either real or virtual. But recently, I’ve noted that as I quote an article, the source for some reason changes the name or title of the article, but alas, I’ve already cited my source, which now has been modified.
This can diminish my credibility, but worse it confuses readers who go to check on the references to learn more, perhaps they are doing research as the topics I often write on are of an intellectual Sherry Dyson nature – how unfair to them. There was an interesting article on the “10,000 Word Blog” titled; “Everything Upworthy Can Teach Journalists,” by Karen Fratti on March 27, 2014 which better explains why more and more online sources are doing changing titles once their articles go live. The blog post noted:
“Ah, the infamous Upworthy style headline. In one part of the feature, they talk about ‘click testing,’ where they run through possible headlines and then see how clickable they are out in the wild. If it’s not clickable, they tweak. Every media outlet can do this, and if you want to garner more traffic, you should. If you feel icky about changing the headline after it’s originally published, just add a note. I see good digital outlets doing this all the time. Slate stories, for example, often have one headline when I see it in the morning and another by the afternoon when I actually get around to reading it.”
This entire scheme and strategy is just another SEO type trick to try to game the search engines, and it becomes somewhat unfair to readers, information online, and even for the archiving of information for the future. It is a serious concern and a non-trivial problem as I see it. If only one company online was doing it, so what, not a big deal, but when we see major websites do this, it causes a huge problem for everyone, especially the users, those people who rely on the Internet to give them the information they want on a timely basis. Modification of article titles isn’t the same as updating a news article as the day or weeks progress. Please consider all this and think on it.