Spoiler: I think it was a generally bad place to write
Good article, providing a rare point of view. I search for articles that provide this kind of information. Thanks.
Interesting article. I used to like Cracked.com (heck, I used to like dead-tree Cracked as well). Pivot to video was definitely part of what killed it, though a few were watchable, and the better articles were usually the non-listicle ones. I think it's real problem was one you mentioned in passing--losing ad revenue to ad blockers. Over that time period it seems like it would have gotten harder to monetize free content, especially as staff (and expenses) grew. There's so much free competition.
But the more strident leftist slant had, iirc, lost me as a regular before it folded shop anyway.
Incidentally, Jason pargin, aka David Wong, has a substack.
"The exact reasons for the 2017 collapse are boring and mind-numbingly technical. It boils down to the fact that two giant companies, Google and Facebook, came to dominate online advertising and also controlled the flow of traffic in ways you’re probably not even aware of. After the 2016 election, each company radically altered their model to direct traffic to political commentary, outrage pieces and breaking news, choking off revenue to sites like Cracked"
"I don’t personally think that moving Leftward was the cause of their fall - hell, pandering to one’s biggest audience components might have even helped them delay it. But just because something isn’t a cause doesn’t mean it’s not illustrative of the environment that caused the fall, and so I believe it is here."
This sounds right to me. If you go on YouTube, you'll find plenty of channels that do woke takes on popular culture; just like you'll find plenty of channels that do anti-woke takes on popular culture. Both types do numbers.
My best guess is that Cracked's model for listicles had an advantage that couldn't be easily replicated whereas they didn't/don't have any such advantage when it comes to video. In fact, I tend to think that small independent creators have the advantage when it comes to video. At the very least, independent creators can do similar numbers with much less overhead and without the need to payout to investors.
Very interesting! I love this kinds of inside/what the hell happened sorts of topics, and especially around how websites like this work. Researchers as writers is a business model I hadn't really thought of before, but it makes sense if you don't ask "isn't that a little exploitative?" Or at least don't mind. Really, there are probably a lot of parallels between Cracked and the academic writing industry...
I used to love Cracked in the 2010-2013 era! It's interesting hearing about things from a writer's perspective. From a reader's perspective, I stopped visiting when they insisted on doing more videos than listicles. I always thought their videos were mediocre compared to their long-term writers' articles. Not to mention it's far less convenient to watch than to read; I refuse to carry headphones around everywhere.
I'd never noticed the Pokemon thing before, but now that you mention it: you're right. I'm personally thankful they didn't cover Pokemon, because I probably would have gone apoplectic with the amount of "well, akshually"s I'd want to add.
I've always considered SJWs to be the rough equivalent of Leroy Jenkins. Even if one grants that their heart was in the right place, their tactics really sucked.