Holy fuck, we all survived to assure another Thanksgiving! Let’s celebrate by airing our grievances.
Normally, this is the time of year when we do an article inviting people to arrive write for us.( And don’t get me wrong; you should totally still do that. We’ve raised the starting pay scale to $150 per article and it jumps to $250 as of your fifth, You can click here to join the fun .) But I wanted to do something a little different this year.
I’m Cracked Executive Editor David “Buy My Book” Wong, and I supposed I’d answer some of the more common, and often angry, questions we get in our various inboxes. To be clear, most feedback is overwhelmingly positive, and most objections are minor.( You guys are super good at catching typos !) But it wouldn’t make for an interesting article to only answer the softballs.( “Does all your smartness induce your brain hurt? ” “What are your favorite periods and places to rendezvous for anonymous fan sex? “)
So before we let the tone turn too negative, let’s establish a few things: Cracked has just completed its eighth year in its current form, it is still growing( we’re in the middle of hiring more people as we speak ), and we all are incredibly luck to have these undertakings. So don’t let me skip that the members of the Thanksgiving update where we say thanks. We’ll merely be here as long as you are, and I hope all of you feel like your supporting over the years is rewarded on a daily basis. We try really hard to build that happen.
So let’s dive in. And yes, I’m putting this shit in listing form.
I’m going to have to answer this with a listing within a list, because my crippling list craving has permanently rewired my brain.
A) It’s never to our advantage to intentionally run an ad that yanks you off the site and/ or riles you so much that you’re afraid to come back. How could an ad campaign ever pay enough that it would be worth it to us to lose our audience? If you guys go forth, this whole operation runs dark. So “its not” our policy to ever intentionally operate ads that take you off the site, or play sound, etc. unless you specifically tell them to. But …
B) No large site hand-picks its ads. Everyone signs up to an ad network, and then the network goes out and sells space to the specific advertisers. So if a site ever seems surprised to have certain ads depicting up on their content, that’s why. This is why a feature article taunting Scientology wound up with ads for the church right at the bottom of the page. I assure you that we didn’t scheme that! We apologize to anyone who clicked on it and was immediately converted.
Which actually happened in a similar incident with some of our magazine readers in the ‘8 0s .
C) It is incredibly difficult to keep obnoxious ads from slipping into the network. This is an industry-wide problem, caused by technical issues I’m not smart enough to understand. As far as I can tell, the problem is that it’s easy for unscrupulous advertisers to conceal annoying behavior in their ads in a way that avoids detection by the people who review them before they go live. It’s also easy for good advertisers to write sloppy code that makes their ad unintentionally do something obnoxious, like permanently block the content you’re trying to read or continuing to make noise even after you’ve muted it.( Which isn’t even to their advantage. Why would you buy a product from a company whose ads construct you want to set your computer on fire ?)
So when complained about a campaign come into our subsistence inbox( subsistence @cracked. com ), we shut it down as quickly as we can( the campaign , not the inbox ). But even then, it sometimes comes back again a short time later, because the people attaining these ads can be persistent. All we can do is try to stay on top of it, and hope that there’s a permanent fix at some phase. We want to keep the site free, and we want to pay our staff and freelancers what they deserve. Right now, this is the only business model that builds that possible. That also runs for those whose real grievance is that we have ads at all, or that the ads aren’t all subdued, tiny, and easy to dismis. Advertisers won’t pay for ads nobody notifications. Ads either have to be prominent or sites have to set content behind a paywall.
And try to remember: As annoying as it must be for you as a reader, imagine being the creative person who spent a hundred hours and ten sleepless nights putting a piece of content together, merely to find out that an obnoxious ad ruined the experience. We’re all in this chore because we want to create things, and for people to see the things we created. I insure we detest this as much as you do — if not more.
Coming up with clear, short, intriguing titles for articles is one of those tasks that voices simple until you have to do it, like invading Russia.
With the list-style feature articles, we try to give the writers the freedom to deviate from the listing somewhat if the entries are interesting and/ or fun enough, but the front page template only devotes us 60 characters to work with. So we have run articles where the title was something like “6 Movie Heroes Who Should Go To Jail For Murder, ” but where the most accurate title would have been “6 Movie Heroes Who Should Go To Jail For Murder, Though One Was A TV Show Hero And Perhaps# 4 Would Technically Be Manslaughter.”
All we can do is give the article the most concise title we can, and said he hoped that the content itself is likely to be funny or interesting enough that you’ll forgive the fact that said title wasn’t accurate to the letter. But we’re never trying to trick you — it’s not like we’re running a headline promising a “SELENA GOMEZ WARDROBE MALFUNCTION !!!!” merely to give you a Vine of Selena adjusting her hat. A bunch of people in the organization collaborate to create the titles, and we really do our best.
Well … we’ve actually been writing about topics like feminism in pop culture since early 2008, so your memories of a time when we wouldn’t touch such a loaded topic must go back to the Bush administration — an era when the first iPhones were hitting shelves and almost none of the present personnel had even heard of the site. That’s a year before Seanbaby arrived, for example.
But more importantly, please remember that all content is political . If you write about pop culture and never be talking about, say, racial stereotypes in movies, then you’re making a strong political statement( specifically, that racial stereotypes in movies aren’t worth find or worrying about ). Every word you fail to say conveys an sentiment on some subject.
Like how I’ll never write a column about my World’s Biggest Penis trophies. To me, they’re not that big a deal .
So whether or not you perceive a piece as being annoyingly political depends entirely on your point. For instance, this article on a homosexual man living in a country where homosexuality is illegal could be seen as blatantly liberal by some readers, because we’re clearly siding with the gay man in that scenario. But this article about awesome war heroes could be seen as blatantly conservative by others, because we don’t challenge the assumption that warfare is inherently heroic. So could this piece about government waste. The point is that they tend to only feel political when you disagree with them. But don’t let me or anybody else tell you that their contents is unbiased. There is no such thing — that’s the most common lie content creators tell. They’re trying to convince you that their particular point of view is in fact the cold, logical truth.
Now, you might think that the obvious solution would be to simply operate an equal number of articles from both sides of each issue, but that’s impossible. You wouldn’t, for instance, try to run a positive Scientology article for each critical one, or insist on a counterpoint quote from a vegetarian every time we joke about bacon being delicious. Remember that everything is a political hot-button issue for somebody, and you can’t dedicate equal weight to every conceivable “side.” So from Day One, every single outlet has to decide what points of view are and are not worth giving a platform to.
You may agree or disagree with where we fall on that spectrum, but if you ever find a site that you think contains no political message whatsoever, it simply means their politics happen to align with yours. It’s kind of like how you’re not conscious of how your clothes fit unless you’re wearing something that’s pinching your crotch. I think that interesting content should pinch your crotch now and then.
First of all, if you’re even vaguely interested in maybe thinking about writing for us, sign the hell up and insure what it’s all about. It’s free and you’re not committing to anything. Go into the Workshop and lurk around for a little bit. Nobody will even know.
As for the question, that requires a quick lesson in Cracked History. I realize merely the most hardcore of fans will care about this, but if you’re reading this at all, I assume you’re already either a Cracked fan or a crazy person.
The site as it exists now, with its list articles and such, began in the middle of 2007. I was hired in September of that year. Fun fact that some of you might not know: My predecessor was a slapstick genius named Jay Pinkerton who was hired away to work at Valve, and his first project there was to help write Portal 2 . He now works on their fantastic Team Fortress comics.
Amazingly, at the time, Cracked.com had a mere two full-time employees — myself and Editor in Chief Jack O’Brien. Dan O’Brien( no relation) was still an hourly intern helping edit and such, and the technical side was handled by staff at the mother company, which was dividing its hour with other, bigger sites. Cracked had no office to speak of. We published six feature articles a week( we took Saturday off ), and that was it.
Today, we have about 40 full-time staff( plus a small army of contractors) and each week we publish 16 feature articles, 11 columns, seven image collects, five or six videos, and two podcasts. So we ran from six pieces of text content a week to around 40 pieces in multiple formats( that’s still a drop in the bucket is comparable to a site like BuzzFeed, but they had about 800 employees the last day I checked ). We now take up most of an office building in Los Angeles, and our video team is making big-budget series like The Stumbling Dead …
[ youtube https :// www.youtube.com/ watch? v= LprF4–i 5Lg& w= 420& h= 236]
… and Starship Icarus 😛 TAGEND
[ youtube https :// www.youtube.com/ watch? v =P lhECygj-G4& w= 420& h= 236]
We’ve published two volumes, and are approaching four million fans on Facebook and one million subscribers on YouTube. We’ve won Webby awardings and served billions and billions of page opinions. Freelance writers for us have gone on to get book bargains and write for TV shows. Video collaborators have gone on to get spots on Saturday Night Live and even their own demonstrates.
The point is that these days, when writers come along and prove themselves, they tend to get sucked away speedily, either by other outlets or by other departments at Cracked. You’ve noticed that we now have a whole section of the site where we do interviews with regular folks who’ve resulted interesting lives. Well, that team is made up of people who originally indicated up and clicked that sign-up button. The editorial squad who reviews article “pitches” also came from that same pool, as did the bulk of the columnists and the article editors.
This means that our craving for new, good writers is ravenous . We do everything we can to be welcoming to new writers off the street, and induce no demands in terms of prior experience or education. Either you can do it or you can’t, and if you can only sort of do it, we’ll coach-and-four you along. That’s how badly we need people.
It’s not for everyone; I’m not gonna lie. The door is wide open for freelancers, and room for advancement is everywhere … but once you’re in, you’ll find out how exacting we are in terms of what we accept and what the finished product needs to look like. Expect a lot of feedback and back-and-forth deliberation, along with a crash course in how to write for the Internet. If you make it through, expect the biggest audience you can possibly get as a novice — if there’s another outlet on globe that gives this prominent a showcase to new novelists off the street, I don’t know of it. Sign up. We need you .
Sitting down to write a fresh new slapstick column every week is one of those things that voices simple until you have to do it, like winning an debate with a toddler. In reality, you can only write a weekly column for so long before your mind breaks. It’s mentally exhausting run, and eventually you either A) find yourself wanting to do something else or B) circumstances intervene, as happened in Robert Brockway’s lawsuit.
No , not this time .
We’ve had columnists who put their work on hiatus to have kids, we’ve had editors give up their regular column when they got too overloaded with other projects( watch: Dan, Soren, etc .). They all still hang around — Seanbaby edits feature articles, for example. Sometimes they come back after a hiatus; sometimes they don’t. This is yet another reason we are always desperate to refresh our pool of writers.
Okay, I slipped in what is clearly a stealth compliment. We have more popular shows than what we can make at any given time. The video team is still merely a handful of musicians and crew, and even a simple “Dan sits at a desk and talks to the camera about ninja turtles” video can take dozens of hours to put together.
[ youtube https :// www.youtube.com/ watch? v= 0fBXizweZyM& w= 420& h= 236]
Meanwhile, a more complex series like Rom.Com takes hundreds and hundreds of hours and dozens of people. So when we choose to do one reveal, we’re opting not to do another — you can only run humans so much before they fall over dead. Then you have the fact that we have to split our resources between stimulating more episodes of stuff we know people like versus developing brand-new demonstrates so that we can keep grow, and at the end of the day, someone will always be disappointed.
Obviously, we’re not making any more New Guy Weekly videos because Alex was eventually caught and sent to prison. We apologize for that little episode.
We see your complaints. The mobile app can act weird on some phones, there is content missing from the navigation, readers insist that their comments aren’t saving or are deleted immediately after posting, Ann’s Saturday macro collections are still phrased like competitions due to how the site template works, etc. But trying to keep a site this size running smoothly is one of those tasks that sounds simple until you have to do it, like receiving an actual new release on Netflix’s New Releases list.
You’re on you own for that, but we’ve definitely got your back for the “chill” component .
The problem is that taking priority over those issues I just mentioned are projects that are urgent yet largely invisible to the reader. Site security is a big one( if you’re a big site, that automatically means hundreds of people are continually trying to hack it ), as is server stability, issues that affect payment to the writers — the back end stuff that is more about preventing disaster, rather than fixing annoyances or upgrading the experience. I’m betting you can’t remember the last day the site went offline entirely for a day. That’s due to a huge amount of hard work that’s being done behind the scenes, all the time. It’s like how you don’t appreciate all the things your kidneys do until the day they stop working and abruptly your blood turns to earwax.
But I assure you that everyone is working relentlessly to make the site better, all the time. In the meantime, all we can do is ask for your patience. As with the vexing ads earlier, you can’t imagine how much the creators hate spending weeks putting something together, only to get mail from frustrated fans venting about how some flaw kept them from even considering it.
I don’t want to dismiss this complaint out of hand, because the “Are we doing this too much? ” conversation comes up about once a day here, as it does at every single creative outlet on ground. Right now, there’s some poet in Indonesia asking herself that exact same thing.
But it’s hard to give an answer that can’t be taken out of context in the worst style. I don’t wishes to just say, “The old dependable list articles still get the most traffic, so we maintain doing them! ” because that sounds like we’re all a bunch of suits frets merely about earning. “It shouldn’t be about the bottom line, ” you’ll tell. “It should be about art ! Otherwise all you’re doing is cranking out a bunch of mindless sequels, like Hollywood! “
“You even already split articles onto two pages! ”
But even if you take fund out of the equation, everyone in there wants lots of people to watch and enjoy the stuff we make. I can prove it: Pre-Cracked, I wrote on the web for free for eight years, and also gave my first novel away for free for five years before I ever got a book deal. Almost everyone in there has a similar story — they would still be doing it even if they weren’t getting paid( and have ), as long as people were enjoying it. Well, “traffic” entails lots of people are reading the stuff we induced, sharing it with their friends and otherwise doing things that indicate that it attained them happy. So in my mind, there’s nothing cynical about saying we are still do certain content as long as the traffic is there.
It’s easy to say that a true artist would only make art to fulfill their own creative vision, but it’s all about striking a balance. If you proved up here to find 10,000 words of my free form poetry memorializing my pet rabbit, you wouldn’t be thrilled that I stuck to my vision — you’d be annoyed that I was so far up my own ass that I didn’t consider whether my work would interest anyone but me. So every single creative outlet has to balance the more experimental pieces with the stuff that they know will get traffic/ ratings/ marketings, even though in our case, the Cracked connoisseurs might be get borne with the latter.
And hey, if you think you’ve got a unique voice that could take Cracked to another level, sign up to write for us.
Look, I’m not asking for a medal here. There are people out there who the hell is saving lives and devising medication and shit. That we get paid any fund at all to do this work is almost obscene, and after civilization collapses, we’ll all be forced to work in the mines alongside Pewdiepie, each of us whipped daily for not hauling as much coal as Soren.
But I want you to know that everything you find on this site is the work of very passionate and often exhausted people doing their absolute best. It’s a team made up almost entirely of inventors who were amateurs or freelances only a few years ago, who worked their route up by sheer determination and unflagging enthusiasm. Before Cracked, Cody was a dude making funny videos in his bedroom …
[ youtube https :// www.youtube.com/ watch? v= oiS-zQ1woLk& w= 420& h= 236]
I know it comes off as pretentious to go on and on about this( “Wow, it’s so inspirational how humans can miraculously defy the odds to generate a website ” ), and I know that to most of you, this is nothing more than a thing you browse on the bus on your style to work. I know that to most people on Earth, this is nothing at all. But on our aim, you find people who live and exhale Cracked. We go to bed thinking about it, we wake up are concerned about it, we get knots in our intestines when something breakings. We obsess over ways to make it better, ways to make it last. That’s all.
So thanks again, and enjoy your vacations. Barring some kind of planetary tragedy, we should be back here the same day next year, bigger and better. Here’s a GIF of a pigeon waiting patiently to board his train 😛 TAGEND — DW
I’m legally having my last name changed to this URL .
Read more: www.cracked.com