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Why you should be able to cancel your clicks

There should be a way to cancel a click, like stopping payment on a check.

In this scenario, your click is not permanent; it is an indication that you visited but not that you found something of value there. This is a way of monetizing attention, in a sense: you visit a site, the site counts your visit, but you have the ability to cancel the click if you choose.

This would instantly put a dent in sites like the horrible Daily Currant, whose business model is based on tricking you into thinking it just broke a news story and then justifying its dreck as “satire.”

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It would also cut into rewards for click-bait content generation, which reduces writing to digital sweatshop labor and sets legions of theoretically good, engaged writers loose on press releases which are then mildly rewritten and turned into “news.” (“You won’t believe what Zack Snyder did to the Batmobile!”)

This is not a fully thought-out idea, to put it mildly. It’s just a notion, born of frustration that the operative principle of so many web sites is generating eye-grabbing garbage by any means necessary, a good portion of it recycled, exaggerated, inaccurate, trashy, or provocative in the dumbest imaginable way.

Editors, publishers, writers and advertisers are all slaves to this madness.

Being able to cancel a click would imply a contract between reader and web site: give me content that is worth my time and I will reward you with the “currency” of my click, which in turn will boost your numbers and increase your ad rates.

In theory, clicks need not be made permanent unless content demonstrates a small degree of effort and imagination. The most imaginative, original, valuable, or important content would, I hope, then become the most likely to garner permanent clicks that can be converted into monetize-able traffic.

Junk clicks would become exactly that. Worthless.

No more endless regurgitation of the same Star Wars set photos, or rewriting press releases about a new game, or false narratives about a political candidate that are meant to draw "outrage clicks" regardless of accuracy. No more garbage or filler masquerading as journalism or entertainment. No more dishonesty in the name of drawing eyeballs.

This would be an "opt-out" model, meaning that you have to make the decision to cancel a click, otherwise it would be counted. That way web sites would not be penalized simply because visitors forgot to convert the click and make it permanent.

The flip side, though, is that if you visit a web site hoping for a modicum of honesty, craft and imagination and get nothing but bad faith, you can cancel your click, and the site will not benefit.

Is it possible to do this?

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