Although I suspect there are applicable examples in literature and newsprint, the specific context here is the online practice of either including a dud, or excluding an obvious/needed example in a piece, whereby an online viewer is encouraged to make a comment on the bottom of the webpage. The author is architecting engagement to drive website traffic.

For example:

  • Purposefully not including Citizen Kane in a piece or list about the best movies of all time.
  • Cheekily including a Dan Brown novel when discussing or listing the best books ever written.
  • etc. (but not so obvious...)

Basically, it's a troll move. A professional tactic of trolling viewership. I'm positive this is a gimmick used, and may even be taught in modern journalism schools.

What is the best term to use, whereby the largest number of readers would know right off what I'm talking about? (Or, perhaps an exacting technical term, even if they have to look it up.)

  • Dissonance writing
  • Purposeful gaffing
  • Contrived bounding
  • Poetic dis license
  • Hooking the reader
  • Call and response
  • ?

Note: an obscure cultural cross-reference is the Bugs Bunny cartoon where a bomb has been wired to detonate if a particular piano key is pressed. Bugs tricks Yosemite Sam into participating in playing, in the same way that I'm talking about an author tricking readers into engaging.

  • 1
    The word baiting comes to mind, but I'm not sure if that's a recognized term for it. Then again, maybe clickbait is a term that describes what you're looking for?
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 0:42
  • 1
    It sounds like a honeytrap : A stratagem in which irresistible bait is used to lure a victim.
    – bib
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 1:42
  • 2
    It's a trap! Or a ruse, trick, ploy, gambit?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 5:43
  • 1
    Your examples use inconsistency or incongruency in an attempt to elicit action from the audience. You could call it 'deliberative/deliberate rhetorical inconsistency/incongruency'. Idiomatically, it's known and despised as a 'cheap shot' (generic term). And "architecting engagement to drive website traffic" is known as 'doublespeak' (generic term).
    – JEL
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 10:21
  • 2
    Very closely related to this older question: A word for an intentional error or absurdity inserted to check whether audience read an entire passage
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


How about 'contrived ignorance'.

'Contrived' - Ingeniously or artfully devised or planned (OED).

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