Editorial: Clickbait List Does Lots of Harm, Zero Good

June 7, 2024

A long time ago, when I was a kid, I bought a weather-beaten copy of “The People’s Almanac Presents: The Book of Lists” at a neighborhood garage sale.

Published in 1977, the paperback, which was the size of a small brick, contained hundreds of lists about a galaxy of obscure topics — everything from “The 10 Most Intelligent Breeds of Dogs,” “12 Museums of Limited Appeal” and “Seven Well-Known Sayings Attributed to the Wrong Person” to “13 Possible Sites for the Garden of Eden,” the “Five Most Oft-Sighted Lake and Sea Monsters” and “10 Really Bad Canadian Sports Teams.” (Sorry, Blue Jays fans!)

All these years later, I still don’t know what “The People’s Almanac” is, but “The Book of Lists” was educational, entertaining and eminently memorable.

A good, well-researched list — or series of lists — presented in an amusing or compelling way can have that effect, I guess.

Other lists, however, are best-ignored or forgotten, such as one that recently appeared on a certain “news” website and was forwarded to me by a colleague.

Presented in the form of a heavily ad-saturated slideshow, “The 15 Worst Tire Brands on the Market” list is introduced by this anonymously written preamble: “Every driver knows the critical role that tires play in the safety and performance of their vehicle. However, not all tires are created equal, and some brands fall far short of the mark when it comes to quality, durability and overall reliability.

“We’re shining a spotlight on the worst tire brands currently on the market. From frequent blowouts to poor traction in wet conditions, these tires have earned a notorious reputation for leaving drivers stranded, frustrated, and questioning their purchasing decisions.”

The list then goes on to savage a bunch of tire brands via a torrent of conjecture, accompanied by random photos that don’t seem to be remotely connected to the tires “in question.”

In case you don’t have time to Google the list, I’ll share some verbatim excerpts with you. I’ve left out the tire brands, by the way.

For your clarification, each of the following paragraphs “describes” a different brand:

“X tires have earned a reputation for inconsistent quality control, resulting in issues such as sidewall bulges, rapid tread wear, and poor overall performance. Users have reported instances of these tires failing prematurely or experiencing blowouts, which can pose safety hazards on the road. Overall, X tires may not offer the reliability and longevity that drivers expect from their tires.”

“X tires have faced criticism for their inconsistent quality and subpar performance in various driving conditions. Users have reported issues such as uneven tread wear, poor traction on wet surfaces, and sidewall failures. Additionally, X tires may lack the durability needed to withstand the rigors of daily driving, leading to premature wear and the need for frequent replacements.”

“X tires are often associated with budget vehicles but are frequently cited for their subpar performance and durability. Users have reported problems such as uneven tread wear, poor traction in wet conditions, and a tendency to develop sidewall cracks.”

“X tires have gained a reputation for their poor tread life and susceptibility to sidewall damage. Many users have reported premature wear, uneven tread wear patterns, and issues with maintaining traction, especially in wet conditions.”

“X tires are commonly found on budget vehicles but are frequently criticized for their lackluster performance and durability. Users have reported problems such as premature wear, sidewall cracks, and a tendency to lose traction quickly. These tires may seem like a cost-effective option initially, but their shorter lifespan and performance issues make them a less-than-ideal choice for many drivers.”

“X tires have faced criticism for their poor tread life and performance in various driving conditions. Users have reported issues such as rapid tread wear, reduced traction on wet or slippery surfaces, and a tendency to develop sidewall failures. While X tires may offer initial cost savings, their lack of durability and performance shortcomings make them a less appealing option for drivers looking for reliable and safe tires.”

At no point are these “observations” attributed to any person, such as a tire dealer, consumer or third-party industry expert, or anything, like a website or an online e-commerce portal.

These types of lists — also known as “clickbait” — are nothing new. You’ll find them in other forms of media. They aren't always helpful.

In my opinion, “The 15 Worst Tire Brands on the Market” list does nothing to benefit tire buyers, tire manufacturers or tire dealers.

In fact, it comes across as a gratuitous cheap shot. 

Could its contents also be defamatory? That's probably up to tire manufacturers' legal departments to decide.

 

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.

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