Introducing BrainHole — an Outbrain-style Widget for ClickHole.com

by Cosmo Catalano

I’m a big fan of ClickHole, the Onion’s satirical take on the clickbait stories that, with the advent of gullible olds like your Grandmother, have rendered your Facebook newsfeed all but useless. But as much as I liked the headlines, stories, and execution the fabled satirical publication brought to ClickHole, something wasn’t quite right.

Outbrain (and a few other, similarly awful companies) has made a splash generating links to “related content” from off-site pages. From a business standpoint, it’s not a bad proposition—traffic-poor sites can appear on traffic-heavy ones for a very reasonable price; traffic-heavy sites can further monetize their audience by drawing a few cents off snaring the clicks of users who were about to leave anyway. But as someone who generates high-effort, high quality content, the garbage that Outbrain generally surfaces is an affront to my sensibilities.

Thus, to complete the satire of clickable-but-worthless web fare, I have created BrainHole, an Outbrain-style related links widget that generates links exclusively to ClickHole stories (it was also a nice excuse to mess around with a Bootstrap-based single-page scrolling template). Admittedly, the project makes almost no sense—ClickHole has plenty of traffic, so there’s no monetary benefit for site users to embed the widget—but ClickHole just wasn’t what ClickHole was intended to be without spammy, auto-generated “related” links pointing back to it.

Now the circle is unbroken. You can check out a live implementation in the footer of this very blog, which is probably the only place anyone will ever put it. As with pretty much anything I do, the code is open-source, so maybe someone (at ClickHole, perhaps) can create a more useful implementation.