Upworthy has quickly become one of the most successful websites on the internet. Their secret is creating cynical click-baity headlines. You’ve probably seen them clogging your Facebook newsfeed by now, posted by some irritating friend from college.
The site’s most successful headlines are also their most cloying (for example: “This Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular” and “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds“), and rarely live up to the hyperbole.
This has generated a fair amount of public scorn and parody, including spoiler alerts (so you can avoid ever clicking on their links), and a blog that rewrites plots from “The Simpsons” using the Upworthy style.
But how does the site vet potential “freelance curators,” to make sure they write only the most sanctimonious of content? An anonymous tipster sent us the “test” they have applicants fill out, explaining that it comes after “several” phone interviews. It’s worth noting that the tipster applied in 2012, and that Upworthy’s application process may have changed since then. (We’ve removed their answers to protect their anonymity.)
What can we glean from it? That internally, Upworthy is about sharing “meaningful stuff” with “every person in the country” (ambitious, especially for a liberal organization!) and is aggressively focused on writing headlines. The applicant is supposed to write 75 headlines for three outdated, trivial links. Pure madness.
Other than that, it’s fairly boilerplate:
The links in the questionnaire have since disappeared from YouTube, but they linked to a video of Morgan Freeman talking about Black History Month in 2009, and a WWF advertisement from 2007. We’re unable to find the “chart” they reference.
Also, apologies if our exaggerated headline let you down.