Contest: Write the Best Web Headline

There’s been some strange activity lately on this blog. It concerns a post that was written more than a year ago, on Dec. 8, 2006. In the three days after the post was published, it received 32 reader comments, which is pretty typical. Then the comments ceased. This, too, is typical: people generally no longer comment on a post that’s more than a few days old.

But then, starting on Nov. 4, 2007, the comments started coming in again, 31 more of them as I write. Why?

I believe it has to do with the headline of the post: “Why I Hate the N.F.L. Network.” The post told the tale of how I settled in with my young son and some friends to watch a Steelers game on the N.F.L. Network, only to discover that the game would not be broadcast, despite all indications to the contrary by the network’s promotions and the pre-game coverage. It turns out that the N.F.L. Network is a tiered system in which the games themselves are premium content that many cable providers have chosen not to buy and then sell to customers. This has made for a lot of confusion and disappointment.

So why did that old blog post start drawing readers and comments again? I assume it’s because November is when the N.F.L. Network starts broadcasting its package of games, and that a lot of people had experiences like mine, then went to their Google box and typed in some rendition of “hate n.f.l. network.” Voila: welcome to Freakonomics.com. (Widespread discontent with the N.F.L. Network is what led it to offer its final game of the season, the Patriots vs. the Giants, as a simulcast to NBC and CBS, among others, which is what accounted for the game being available on three non-cable stations in New York City alone, sprawled across the airwaves like a State of the Union Address.)

Despite the advice of SEO titans everywhere, we have never written headlines on this blog with an eye toward catching wayward traffic. But maybe we should start?

In the meantime, here’s a contest. A piece of Freakonomics schwag goes to the most engaging answer, as determined by us. Write the best headline you can think of that would suck the most traffic to a blog post. Keep it as clean as it needs to be. Here’s my attempt:

“Ron Paul on Teen Sex, the Flat Tax, and Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry.”

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  1. Jarrod says:

    You probably need to add “Britney Spears” and “Paris Hilton” in there somewhere.

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  2. Chris says:

    “Free Money”

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  3. Bijan C. Bayne says:

    Did Obama Iowa Win Trump Britney News?

    (and I’m almost certain your recent NFL Network traffic was influenced by stories about the airing of the Pats-Giants’ game)

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  4. Zach(ary) says:

    Hillary Clinton Disects Britney Spears Sex Scandal and New England Patriots Super Bowl Quest

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  5. MM says:

    Finally you recognize the greatness that is Ron Paul.

    I think a simple “Porn” would create more than enough hits you’ll need to double your income.

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  6. AJ says:

    “Stop Spam Forever”
    “Free Porn”

    As well, any of these should generate sufficient traffic as they are the most common search terms;

    http://www.askdavetaylor.com/what_are_the_most_common_search_terms.html

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  7. AaronS says:

    REVEALED! The Photograph that has Washington Abuzz and Will Bring Down the Bush Presidency.

    The Last 40 Days of America

    Answer this Question and Win a 40 Million Dollars!

    The Ancient Manuscript that Has Debunked the DaVinci Code

    Startling Deathbed Confession of President Ford about the JFK Assasination.

    Jackie Kennedy’s most private journal stolen and stunning excerpts on the internet! Find out who she thinks had JFK shot!

    You know, I’m thinking maybe I should work for a tabloid.

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  8. Angela says:

    “Free Sex”

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