The writer behind a viral article titled “All Cyclists Are Smug, Entitled Assholes” has declared that the piece is not clickbait.
Clickbait, according to Merriam-Webster, is “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”
Dumb Runner, which has a strict policy of not rewarding publications that employ clickbait tactics, has not read the article in question.
“I am shocked—shocked—that my piece has gotten this sort of reaction,” said Louis Renault, 28, an associate editor for Outdoors.com, where the article appeared earlier this week. “Gosh! I was just trying to share an opinion—not make people emotional or anything.”
The article immediately generated hundreds of comments, mostly angry and defensive, and was shared widely among individual cyclists and cycling groups, websites, and pages. Many commenters called it clickbait, trolling, and “a comically transparent, lazy, and dumb attempt to generate hate-clicks.”
Renault said he was surprised that his “li’l, old essay” would spark such a lively debate—and hurt by the implication that he purposely crafted an inflammatory broadside against an entire class of people, lacking even a veneer of nuance or thoughtfulness, in a noxious attempt to generate page views for his employer.
“I just wanted to start a dialog,” he said, shrugging. “I mean, gee whiz!”