Even God knew how to get straight to the point.
Introductions are pointless. At least for web articles.
The title for an article alone should tell you all that is necessary for understanding what you’re about to read. After all, it’s what attracted your attention. You wouldn’t’ve clicked on the link if the title hadn’t been intriguing enough. Most people don’t even read introductions, because they are essentially repetitions of the title. Obviously, some titles are more obtuse than others; the title for this post is quite clear, though I could have put something like, “Introductions and Conclusions Are Sick, Twisted, and Smell Like Old Socks”, which includes a rather obscure Jimmy Neutron reference that about five people would’ve gotten. Still, the gist of my argument would still be there. You don’t need me to tell you what a 500 word web article is about in an 100 word introduction. In this day and age of fast journalism and SEO content, a quick, one sentence preclude should be enough to verify that, yes, you clicked the right link, and yes, this article is about 5 Different Toilet Paper Brands. Unfortunately, in many professional writing circles, they tend to be required, instead of allowing the article to be what it needs to be, sans intro or no. Hence why so many bulk article sites like About.com, GoArticles, and EZineArticles, tend to have overly wordy, stilted text, besides the fact that they are usually written by amateurs en masse. Their commissioners don’t always realize that times have changed, and formulaic formatting with it.
Because of course, introductions are necessary for formal documents like legal papers and school essays and college dissertations. Those I would file under, “exceptions”, since such documents are almost always very long and (through necessity) complicated. Besides being a requirement, introductions in these cases are more like friendly signs that inform you of what’s to come, and explain the author’s argument. A proper essay introduction, for example, will outline the thesis and its main points. The writer then expands on these points in the body of the paper, with the introductory outline keeping them on target. Until they get to the conclusion, that is.
Conclusions are even more ridiculous than introductions, because at least the latter tend to provide some sort of disclaimer or additional information before you blaze through an article. Again, conclusions have their merits in formal writing, as they sum up the content in a concise manner, but they are useless in web articles. It is completely unnecessary for me to repeat to you what you’ve just read. It took you probably no more than five minutes to skim through learning about those toilet paper brands, and now here comes another 100 word block of text, informing you that yes, you DID just finishing reading about toilet paper and yes, isn’t it wonderful what they can do nowadays? Conclusions at best, add slightly more information, but are all too often just a rectangle of redundancy. Most websites (but not enough) have done away with them entirely, choosing instead to end their articles with an open question for their readers. Something like…
How do YOU feel about introductions and conclusions? Are they the byproducts of bygone age, or do they still hold some relevance in the web-based world?
(Oh, to conclude: Conclusions are pointless. Now excuse me while I eat my words in order to earn some money.)