|Founded||June 12, 2014|
|Purpose||To parody content shared on media sites.|
|Fields||Satire, clickbait, surreal humor|
|Steve Etheridge, editor in chief|
ClickHole is a satirical website formerly owned by 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 shift 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 social media content and media sites' desperation to share such content.
On February 3, 2020, the website was acquired by the team behind Cards Against Humanity. After the purchase, the website's employees became its majority owners, and will retain complete creative control. As a result of the purchase, the website went on hiatus from February 3, 2020 to May 20, 2020.
ClickHole aims to mock content posted on media sites, using satire, and tries to make its content shareable. 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.
On February 23, 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 changed to 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 fringe right wing 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.
On August 29, 2017, PatriotHole introduced Doug Baxter as the host of its eponymous web video series which premiered on September 6, 2017. The show features Baxter as a parody of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, parodying Jones's views on subjects like Hillary Clinton, globalists, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and products sold through the InfoWars website.
On May 9, 2018, ClickHole launched a new liberal-themed site called ResistanceHole, which has a similar theme to PatriotHole but targets liberal news media in its satire, and 'attacks' figures like Donald Trump and Mike Pence (as opposed to PatriotHole, which targets ones like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders).
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, Fast Company praised the site, saying it was "earning praise from just about every corner of the Internet", with 36% web traffic generated via sharing on Facebook. 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. Sam Parker of The Guardian said it was unclear whether ClickHole is "a satire of clickbait, or good satire done as clickbait".
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.
Actor and 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 him 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."