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What To Read Today: Interview With Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti

If you only read one thing on the Internet today, this is it. And it will probably be all you have time to read, clocking in at the 91 minute mark according to Medium’s estimation.

(But hey, if your Tweetdeck is down and Feedly’s under attack, you should have more time than usual to lean in to a piece like this. Sorry for the reminder.)

jonahperettiIt’s an eight-part Q&A that reporter Felix Salmon conducted over a few interviews with Jonah Peretti, who helped found two of the most viral, traffic-driving websites on the Internet: Huffington Post, and after leaving HuffPo, Buzzfeed.

If you only read part of it, skip to sections 6, Buzzfeed as Willy Wonka’s Lab, and 7, How to win the Internet. On the whole, it’s a fascinating look into the mind and methods, plus the future and back story, of one of the people who made the Internet and general online mediascape what it is today — for better or worse.

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BuzzFeed Will Focus on Video, Rethink Traffic Partner Program

BuzzFeed_BadgesLast Friday BuzzFeed announced it would wind down its traffic partner network in order to focus more on video.

Reported Quartz’ John McDuling, a note to network participants read:

BuzzFeed has decided to wind down its existing partner network over the coming months. The partner network was an extremely valuable product for us and for partners but its place has changed as the industry has evolved and BuzzFeed has grown into a fully staffed, global news and entertainment organization over the last few years.

BuzzFeed, despite its success, is an anomaly and is still trying to decipher a path to long-term viability. A weird mix of strong investigative reporting and silly lists, its quirk is undeniable, as many of its content partners and readers can probably attest. Still, there’s no way it could be a bad thing to let BuzzFeed refer web traffic to you, no matter what kind of content they’re initially consuming on the viral site.

By hosting links and top headlines from a group of 200 publishers on the BuzzFeed site and a Fre.sh platform, those organizations got the benefit of BuzzFeed traffic and demographics while BuzzFeed received a trove of data about what kinds of other news its readers enjoyed, and how they navigated other pubs’ sites, so they could better plan their own content, McDuling, a corporate reporter, explained.

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Finally, Viral Content That’s Actually Funny: The Onion To Launch ClickHole.com

Watch out Upworthy, BuzzFeed and the other bazillion viral content producers who rely on visitors falling into the rabbit hole of clicking link after viral link on their website. There’s soon to be a new, funnier kid on the block who’s going after your audience by poking fun at you…

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

Parody news site The Onion, which already garners robust traffic by playing off newspaper and TV news story stereotypes, announced this week it will set its sights on stealing some of the click love with a parody site of the viral content farms.

The new site, ClickHole.com, will launch in June. Don’t worry though if you can’t wait that long, there’s already a fun infographicesque tutorial up on the homepage where you can practice your clicking skills. Plus, the name is such a perfect parody of such sites that it’s hard to believe that domain was even available.

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The Big Roundtable’s Social Media Experiment

The BRT wants the stories it publishes to be "surprising" and ambitious - and for them to be read widely.

The BRT wants the stories it publishes to be “surprising” and ambitious – and for them to be read widely, of course.

Longform startup The Big Roundtable (BRT) recently commissioned three college students to put its assumptions about social sharing to the test.

The challenge? Taking one story, one month and whatever techniques they could think of (legal, of course), the three undergraduates were tasked with the challenge of racking up the most unique page views.

Said BRT Founder Michael Shapiro on the pub’s blog, ”The contest was inspired by this simple, painful realization about the patterns in our traffic: there are none.”

Having struggled with pegging what makes people click — and how to get them to a place where they’re able to find stories — BRT noted high traffic numbers when its pieces were linked in other publications’ stories, but acknowledged that stories they thought would take the Internet by storm didn’t turn the results they anticipated. They wanted some answers.

BRT, led by Shapiro, editor Mike Hoyt and publisher Anna Hiatt, was formed in mid-2013, and is based on the idea that writers should be directly connected to, and supported by, their readers. Backed initially by a successful Kickstarter campaign, BRT has since been publishing quality longform (5,000+ words) pieces, some with media partners like Buzzfeed and Longreads, enabling authors to be paid via reader donation. Additionally, a “reader’s circle” receives 1,000 word samples of potential BRT content, so it’s not just the editorial team making calls on what gets read.

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