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Many articles you read online start with random quotes and abstract thoughts or philosophy, not on the actual subject, but on things related to the subject, including a lot of personal opinions.

For example, I was reading articles on the performance of a particular graphics hardware. Almost all articles started off with an abstract talk about how NVIDIA was battling AMD and certain other moves by the manufacturer etc. It said what the writer thought about those moves taken by the company and then some poor assumptions of what the public thinks. It's almost as if the article writer is making a YouTube stream

It took like 3-4 paragraphs of scrolling before the article actually showed something remotely close to the subject like how the hardware actually performs and even later it showed the actual figures and bar charts.

Mind that the title of the article was about that hardware test case and not about its company, rivals, company history, or market competition.

So why do so many articles contain placeholder information?

Is due to a lack of quality control? Like big online magazines hiring dozens of low-quality writers so they have something to put out quickly all the time?

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  • Paginated? Each page is a new set of ads to display. More text = more pages.
    – SF.
    Jun 14, 2016 at 13:54
  • It's good practice to include background information. You seem to think a piece of writing should be tailored exactly to your knowledge of a topic, and you're the biggest expert who already knows everything. But people approach articles with all kinds of knowledge levels, and some might want to know what the article is about. You need to consider that what is interesting to you isn't necessarily interesting to other people and vice versa, but unless you're specifically paying a writer to make you a report, you need to accept it's not solely written for your benefit.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 20, 2023 at 14:59

4 Answers 4

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It sounds like you're sick of the 'nut graf'.

Broadly speaking, it's a paragraph explaining why the topic is worthwhile. Writers are often trained to use it. It answers the question 'Why should anyone care about this article?'

That's potentially useful for a reader who happens on the article while browsing. But in your case, you're specifically hunting for the information that follows — you already care — which is probably why, to you, it's just redundant introductory blather.

Of course, the other possible explanation is that the articles aren't very good.

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  • But the article should stick to it's title with minimum secondary information
    – Allahjane
    Jun 14, 2016 at 15:42
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    Perhaps you're right. Personally I'd say secondary information can be useful, though of course not to everyone, and not if it's rubbish!
    – Cakebox
    Jun 14, 2016 at 16:30
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I've noticed that too. I'm certain it's because the first paragraph becomes the excerpt in Facebook (or LinkedIn or wherever). And because there's no useful information in the excerpt you're forced to click through to see the rest of the article.

It's all about the clicks. All about the money.

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Online articles make money by exposing you to advertising. If you can get the information you came for right away, you're going to get it and leave. Ideally, they would like you to click through several pages to find what you want. But short of that, they definitely don't want to put the info in a form that a search engine can just grab and display without you ever reaching their page.

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  • Hadn't considered the search engine bit, but that is fundamentally true. The deeper the content, the less "valuable" the SEO engine is going to believe it is.
    – OhkaBaka
    Feb 19, 2023 at 1:34
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Because to get to the meat you have to scroll passed five ads.

The weaker the payoff is going to be, the more fluff they will stuff in the middle.

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