Underpants and Non Existent Touch Screens: The Decline of Gizmodo

Every morning, I wake up, open my laptop, and open a specific set of sites. I eat my breakfast while reading, save some pages for the bus ride, and then head to work. Every morning, it’s the same set of sites.

Hacker News is a new favorite of mine. It’s a great resource for some good articles to read. Engadget, despite having a poor reputation for the quality of its comments, is still a great tech blog. The Verge is relatively new, but like Engadget, it’s a great place for news on computers and electronics.

And there’s Lifehacker, which has some interesting tips and tricks, while Macrumors has all of the Mac news I could possibly need.

There’s also my Twitter feed. I follow a couple of Node.JS news bots, as well as some designers, developers, and products such as the Pebble. It makes for a great source of quick news snippets.

And then there’s Gizmodo.

A few years back, Gizmodo was one of the two sites (the other was Engadget) that I read regularly. My interest in computers was budding and I wanted to absorb all of the news I could possibly read. Both of the sites I picked up from my father, and they were pretty good at reporting tech news.

Just take a look for yourself– June 4th, 2008, Gizmodo.com (thanks Wayback Machine). Every single post was related to technology. Sure, some of it was a bit…unconventional…but it was all electronics or technology.

And then came the iPhone 4 in 2010. Gizmodo ran an exclusive detailing how they “obtained” Apple’s next generation phone, and it turns out they weren’t lying. Not long afterwards, Apple revealed the device on stage and Steve Jobs joked about how we’d probably find the design familiar.

I believe this is where Gizmodo started to go down hill. It was no longer about the technology, and started to become more and more about getting page views.

April 2010. Weird things began to pop up on Gizmodo around this time.

“I Want to Get My Kids to the Egg Child Care Center”? What?

“Yin Yang Bunk Beds”?

“The Better Marriage Blanket Dampens Farts to Save Relationships”?

Suddenly, Gizmodo turned into a mashup of architecture and criticism of products you’d find on some humor blog. At least it was mostly tolerable and most of it could be ignored. But hey, if it capture more people from random search queries, then it was worth the effort. They were addicted to the traffic that their iPhone exclusive brought in and had to get their fix.

October 2010.

“Bomb Squad Sent Out To Defuse A…Box Filled With Kittens”

“The World’s Largest Gummy Worm Is Wrong On So Many Levels”

And to top it off, the leading copy for the gummy worm article?

It’s 26 inches long. It has a 5 inch girth. It has a ribbed body, and weighs in at 3 lbs. It’s the World’s Largest Gummy Worm, and I feel dirty watching this guy try to eat it.

Wonderful. Thanks for that insightful commentary.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2011, and Gizmodo changed it’s design. Personally, I hated it. It was too “AJAX-y” and distracted from reading the articles, which is what I came for in the first place. Ads were plastered over the feature image for each article, and the entire page and its copy was often dimmed to show an ad. I get it– you need to make money. I like to make money too. But the ad placement was so obtrusive, it’s now difficult to read articles on the site. And if you have Ad Block on, sometimes the page won’t load correctly and the entire header becomes a blank white rectangle.

A lot of people complained about it, but over time, everyone got used to it. Just like how everyone complains about Facebook’s Timeline, but’ll get over it in a couple of months.

But now, Gizmodo is reporting on HP’s new PC:

“HP Spectre One: Could This Be the Ideal Touch-Friendly, All-In-One PC?”

The problem? Gizmodo is reporting on a touch screen PC that doesn’t exist. The HP Spectre One is not a touch screen PC. In fact, HP made it pretty clear they omitted touch to keep the design slim.

How in the world can you get that so wrong? Every other tech site on the planet reported the story correctly with HP’s statement on the matter, and yet Gizmodo’s writers didn’t even take the time to check their facts.

Ok, so it’s a simple mistake. We all make them. But take a look at some other articles posted recently by Gizmodo:

“Dubai Is Officially the Craziest City in the World Now”

Yeah, so it’s about architecture. Ignoring that, take a look at the “article” itself:

By the powers bestowed in me by the Ministry of Silly Underpants and after carefully examining and considering the numerous photographic and videographic documents covering its many insane and absurd architectural structures, I hereby declare Dubai the craziest city in the world.

I’m sorry– what? I’m actually embarrassed for Gizmodo. I trusted them at some point in their lifetime, and now they’ve somehow they’ve turned into Captain Underpants.

Gizmodo– I’ve been reading your site for the last couple of years. I’ve watched you grow, and in my eyes, I’ve watched you morph into this cesspool of word vomit and ridiculous articles about stuff that really shouldn’t be on a site called Gizmodo.

I know there’ll be people who disagree with me, but for every one that does, there’s another that shares my same thoughts.

Even if I never visit your site again, at least I won’t have to miss out on the Apple announcement.

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