ClickHole (temporarily known as Cruft and PatriotHole) is a satirical website from The Onion that parodies clickbait websites such as BuzzFeed and Upworthy. It was launched on June 12, 2014, in conjunction with The Onion's decision to stop its print edition and shifts its focus exclusively to the internet. According to ClickHole's senior editor, Jermaine Affonso, the website "is The Onion's response to click-bait content" and serves as "a parody of online media". Critics noted that, on a deeper level, ClickHole illustrates the shallow nature of content that is shared on social media as well as the desperation of media sites to share such content.
|Motto||"Because all content deserves to go viral."|
|Founded||June 12, 2014|
|Purpose||To mock content shared on media sites.|
|Fields||Satire, clickbait, surreal humor|
|Owner||The Onion Inc.|
|Matt Powers, editor in chief |
ClickHole aims to mock content posted on media sites, using satire, and tries to make its content sharable. According to its website, ClickHole wants "to make sure that all of [its] content panders to and misleads [its] readers just enough to make it go viral". In most of its posts, ClickHole tries to convey an underlying message, usually poking fun at social media users or societal behaviors.
The website aims to publish content frequently, setting a target of 7–10 new posts daily.
ClickHole publishes content in the form of articles, videos, quizzes, blogs, slideshows, and features.
Since being founded in June 2014, ClickHole has published parodies of nostalgic content, advice, motivational quotes, sport analysis, life hacks, fashion, and think-pieces (all of which mimic the style and tone of content posted by media sites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy). Another popular feature is "oral histories" of TV shows, websites, and other usually very recent pop culture phenomena.
The ClickHole team meets frequently to brainstorm about new ideas and topics that can be written about. The team uses social media feeds as inspiration for topics to satirize, based on the clickbait that is shared most often. ClickHole ensures that its employees put detail into how each topic should be addressed from a satirical point of view, so that its ideas are conveyed successfully. It also was revealed that the team is still at a stage where it is experimenting with ideas to see what is best received by its audience.
In February 2017, ClickHole temporarily changed its name to Cruft. The change was unexplained, and the name was changed back the following day.
On May 17, 2017, ClickHole was rebranded as PatriotHole, declaring itself to be "the only viral media site brave enough to SCREAM about REAL Americans" and "the internet’s last stand against the tyranny of the Leftist Media." As PatriotHole, the site's journalistic style shifted to resemble conservative news websites such as Breitbart and InfoWars. The site's logo was changed from an orange spiral pattern to a white eagle with orange lines spanning between its wings. Two days later, the site changed back to normal, although PatriotHole was spun off into its own section. 
Within the first week of release, some readers criticized ClickHole for what they saw as a lack of originality. It was accused of using Upworthy, The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed for inspiration for its headlines, slideshows, and quizzes respectively. One hundred days after its launch, however, the site garnered high praise from bloggers and readers of The Onion, with 36% percent web traffic generated via sharing on Facebook. Now the format established by Clickhole is being emulated by some campus satirical newspapers, such as The Michigan Every Three Weekly and The Georgetown Heckler with their spin-off.
Various writers predicted that the website will be a long-term success because its content has consistently been creative and targets a wide audience. They assumed this to be the case as long as ClickHole's audience understand that the website parodies clickbait, and is not clickbait in itself.
One instance where the website gained some popularity was when actor-director George Takei mentioned the website on his official Facebook account after the ClickHole team published an article dedicated to him ("10 Things We Hope George Takei Likes Enough To Share This List") and repeatedly tried to contact the actor through social media. In another instance, the Facebook account of Robert Downey, Jr. posted a link to the article "What Robert Downey Jr. Would Look Like Today," which had the satirical premise of the actor having died several years ago and stating, "I always try to defy expectations."
Many users of social media have taken ClickHole articles to be literal (especially those addressing controversial topics), and have expressed their anger and confusion online.
There also has been confusion regarding what ClickHole is trying to achieve with its satire; an article in The Guardian said that it was unclear whether ClickHole is "a satire of clickbait, or good satire done as clickbait".
- Parker, Sam. "Can The Onion's Clickhole learn from the viral-hungry websites it targets?". The Guardian. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
- Ingram, Mathew (June 12, 2014). "It's getting harder to tell what's satire these days, and The Onion's new site Clickhole isn't helping". Gigaom. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
- Gayomali, Chris. "THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF CLICKHOLE: HOW CREATIVITY (AND GEORGE TAKEI) KEEP THE ONION-Y SITE SIZZLING". Fast Company. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
- Soren, Emma. "Inside 'The Onion's New Click-Bait Parody, ClickHole.com". Splitsider. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- Oremus, Will (June 12, 2014). "Area Humor Site Discovers Clickbait", Slate. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Crouch, Ian (June 20, 2014). "Sucked into the ClickHole", The New Yorker, Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Zinoman, Jason (July 15, 2014). "The Latest News That Isn't John Oliver and Clickhole Take Fake News in Opposite Directions". New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- Dewey, Caitlin (June 24, 2014). "The Onion Launched a Parody Site called Clickhole, and Not Everyone Got the Joke; What Happened Next Will Not Surprise You", Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Bellware, Kim (April 30, 2014). "The Onion Is Tired Of Click Bait, And What They're Doing Next Will Explain Everything". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- Oremus, Will (June 19, 2014). "Area Humor Site Discovers Clickbait". Slate. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
- "What is ClickHole?". ClickHole. June 12, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
- Etherington, Darrell. "The Onion's ClickHole Opens Its Traffic-Baiting Maw". Techcrunch. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
- Gallagher, Brenden (July 1, 2014). "A Look Back at ClickHole's First Month". Complex. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- "Oral History – ClickHole – Because all content deserves to go viral". clickhole.com. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
- Gayomali, Chris. "THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF CLICKHOLE: HOW CREATIVITY (AND GEORGE TAKEI) KEEP THE ONION-Y SITE SIZZLING". Fast Company. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
- "I always try to defy expectations. -Robert Downey Jr". Retrieved June 21, 2015.
- "Anderson Cooper fooled by satire site". May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- Dewey, Caitlin (June 24, 2014). "The Onion launched a parody site called Clickhole, and not everyone got the joke. (What happened next will not surprise you.)". Washington Post. Retrieved October 11, 2014.