Use of Controversy in Your Articles

Using controversy as a vehicle to create interest in your unique article content is one way to *stir the pot*, attract traffic and be entertaining…

However, if the high majority of your articles are all controversy-position-taking, it will be difficult for you to maintain a level of credibility over the long haul.

Nine (9) Article Writing Tips To Consider When Using Controversy:

  1. Credibility is always more important than any short-lived traffic spike.
  2. Certain topical areas do not lend themselves to controversy at all.
  3. Do not go overboard when using controversy by stretching the truth or taking below-the-belt pot-shots at others.
  4. Never insert controversy for controversy sake alone. Your ideas must stand alone apart from your controversial statements.
  5. It’s not necessary to attack another human or be *personal* in your controversy! You can be provocative in your ideas or the broader picture rather than making it personal.
  6. Dispute the facts, dispute the premise, dispute the issues and provide arguments for your reasons. You can do this WITHOUT discrediting the person who originated the idea that you are taking issue with. Think respectful disagreement.
  7. Keep in mind that we don’t take risks on content…so if your controversial article attacks another human, slanders or defames against an individual or against another brand or organization, we may not be able to accept that type of content.
  8. For the record, we don’t seek articles or authors who primarily invoke controversy as their primary way of expressing themselves. However, a little controversy peppered in without attacking another human or organization directly may be ok.
  9. Highly controversial articles are better NOT syndicated. Instead, put them on your website only.

Your thoughts on the use of controversy in article content?

21 Comments »


1

I find that overly documenting your controversial subject matter is your best defense from those you may be offended. I have a chapter in my book that takes only 3 pages to prove that college “diversity” is a fraud. Wow! Now what? I took over a page and a half, using smaller print, to squeeze in all kinds of professional references and studies to prove my simple point. No one’s called me on my conclusion.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 11:47 AM

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2

Hi Chris!

I don’t like the controversial style and I never adopt it.

However, sometimes I make comparisons showing the lack of knowledge of doctors and dream interpreters, but without attacking anyone in particular or any specific company and without being offensive. I always explain that this is not their fault because reality is too complex and the human being is too ignorant.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 11:55 AM

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3

Thanks Chris.
Splendid lesson. You have a category ‘News and Sosciety–Pure Opinion’. How much controversy content would you allow in that as a way of pure opinion or would it be the same rules?
Controversy?

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 12:08 PM

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4
Devika Kumar writes:

1. Truth must not shy away from controversy.
2. If China is the biggest threat to world peace, it must be admitted; even at the cost of temporary commercial interests.
3. If Russia has transferred fissile material to states like Iran, it must be criticised.
4. The western style of brushing facts under the carpet of issues like Taliban or Pakistan will ultimately backfire.
5. It is more important to confront the truth rather than just being courteous or more acceptable.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 12:20 PM

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5

Chinmay,

Controversy always attracts a negative component.

It’s guaranteed.

Therefore, we’ve determined that the upside benefit to articles that are very controversial are not worth it compared to the huge downside potential.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 12:56 PM

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6
Derek Dashwood writes:

I agree, Chris, and am in the midst of writing an article about it. My point is how Ben Franklin rushed to London hen the must infuriating latest Edict came down from King George. At my ancestors house, he created a version that told the assembled guests that as postmaster general of north America he had intercepted an Edict from Prussian mercenaries that the King of Prussia had in the postal system to the people of England. The prime minister, who was there, and other war cabinet were furious and ready to deploy troops to Berlin. Until they noticed a smile on the face of Dr. Franklin.
It did not clear the edict in time. But Franklin had very powerfully put these men into his own shoes, and they all remained respectful friends.
And when you frown into someone’s face and suggest some helpful criticism in most other ways the snit hits the fan.
Derek Dashwood

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 1:58 PM

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7
Kendra Bonnett writes:

You know Chris, I agree with your basic premise. But I’d use a different word. Given the caution you are recommending and the care you are suggesting in using controversy (and rightfully so, I might add) I think that a better word for you to use is Provocative.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 2:33 PM

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8
Paul Gooch writes:

Interesting point, Chris. I’ve also concluded that overly-controversial content isn’t right for EzineArticles, but for different reasons to the ones you mention (although it could be that you agree with my reasons.)
My attitude is that EzineArticles should primarily be informative, should contain informative and useful content.
In my view, article writers are – or should be – aiming for a market, and that market mostly consists of people who want to be informed, it doesn’t consist of people who want to have someone else’s political or other views inflicted on them.

Comment provided February 8, 2008 at 3:21 PM

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9

hello Cris
the use of “Controversy” can be effective in many country in asia it is a No No especially if you are not very familiar with British language.
English is a
rich, wealthy
language. The wording must be very appropiate.

Comment provided February 9, 2008 at 12:55 AM

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10
Marvin writes:

“I’ve always held the position that when writing it is best to use a balanced approach. My idea about how to introduce controversy is to offer both sides of an argument and let readers decide from themselves.

I think if of this kind of writing as being more if a journalistic or reportage style rather than simply first person opinionated letter to the editor stuff.

It is easy enough to stimulate controversy by simply showing the conflict between opposing points of view or alternative theories without taking a specific side.

This is not to say that one can’t declare a preference for a specific point of view, so long as it serves a purpose to do so. It is important to note however that in doing so you may lose readers who hold an opposite point of view.

I’ve always found it best to write in such a way that it is should not be perceived as proselytizing.

Comment provided February 9, 2008 at 12:06 PM

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11
Paul Gooch writes:

The problem with this is, one person’s idea of what constitutes a balanced view might not be someone else’s idea of what constitutes a balanced view.
If you were really determined to present a balanced view you would have to check your article for balance.
Every argument would have to be balanced by another argument. This isn’t just a simple equation, ie. it isn’t just six arguments for and six arguments against equals a balanced article.
Inflexions can be filtered into an argument, so that it is actually a more powerful argument than it seems. These powerful inflexions can be excluded from an opposing argument, so that it is weaker than it seems.
Controversy isn’t worth the hassle, and I stand by my view that it isn’t appropriate for EzineArticles.

I maintain that ezine

Comment provided February 9, 2008 at 3:48 PM

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12
Marvin writes:

Paul Gooch has made several excellent points in his last post. I agree with him entirely in principal and understand his assertions that controversy is problematic for writers. His point about balancing an article to fairly to represent both sides of an argument is of course correct. Having said that let however add the following counter point. Most subjects have a natural element of controversy which simply can’t be avoided. What ever you write someone will take exception.

When I advocated for writing a balanced article I really meant trying to describe the nature of the controversy it’s, fairly accurately. A simple example might be an article about buying back links. This has been common practice which which Google has condemned.

Google’s policies are a matter of record and they have undertaken to directly challenge the practice. something that could effect the page rank of hundreds and thousands of sites.

There are a number of sites that still sell links and likely a number of people who buy them. An article about this topic would be timely and would would likely attract strong interest from readers.

Should we not write about a subject of this nature because it is controversial or should we do so in a manner that, as fairly as possible represents the nature of the issue?

If I wrote an article about ice cream, I might use the title Vanilla or Chocolate which flavor do you favor?

If I write that Vanilla is the still the most popular flavor of ice cream, which a factual statement. Those who favor chocolate however might see this as slanting the article unfairly.

The only way to avoid such a perception would be to write the article is such a insipid fashion so as to be so politically correct as be be ridiculous,

Eg: Vanilla and Chocolate are both very popular flavors.

Please understand my point, I am not advocating that writers should intentionally write articles so as to solicit controversy. EzineArticles are not likely to be picked up by a supermarket tabloid publisher. This is clearly not the place for so called “Yellow Journalism”

I am only stating that virtually all articles will be seen by someone as have something to which they disagree or take exception.

The balance I seek to achieve is to, find some means to avoid creating an article which is obviously slanted or clearly biased in which a way so as to invite it to be attacked.

It is of course important for all writers to write with a view to how their work will be perceived. One should take care to avoid inflections in the writing that create an impression which was not intended.

Clearly it is unwise to deliberately evoke a negative response to those publications that pick up your work. At the same time it is the function of the writer to convey information which the reader will find to be of value.

To do that one can observe and report as accurately as possible and use skill and craft to present the facts in the most balanced manner possible.

Comment provided February 9, 2008 at 6:56 PM

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13
simonmaya writes:

In my opinion, controversy can easily fall into the short term notoriety category. It can get you noticed but if there is no substance to back it up then people in future may not take you seriously particularly if you say alot of controvercial things just to get noticed.

In my writting I am rarely controvercial because I have an inclusionist mentality and try not to alienate people. However I am not afraid to say something if it needs to be said.

For example the fact that if you have a beach house location you need to consider that it may be under several inches of water in within the next 10 years due to global warming. Glaciers melting in the northern hemisphere and ice bergs breaking away and melting in the southern hemisphere is not theory, it is fact!

Comment provided February 15, 2008 at 7:26 AM

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14
Marvin writes:

There is a difference between writing to be controversial and writing about a controversy. I agree that writers should always avoid writing for the purpose of attracting attention by taking a specific and controversial position.

The deliberate and intentional creation of an article which is specifically written to be controversial is bad idea. This is especially true if the article was written as part of a marketing campaign. It would be a foolish and counter productive to create an article which causes readers to agree or disagree with the writer.

Writing about a controversy however another matter. One of the objectives of article writing is to develop credibility or authority as an author. To do this it may be important to write about topics which are controversial by nature. The challenge in doing this is to fairly represent all sides of the issue without obviously taking sides.

Professional journalists and reporters face this kind of challenge everyday. Anyone who writes about non fiction subjects must find a way to use their writers craft to fairly and accurately represent their subject without injected personal bias.

The real question here is what represents a controversy? It is a question which is not actually all that easy to answer. If, as an example I write and article advocating email marketing as a viable and valuable part of a marketing campaign is that subject controversial or not.

There are many internet marketers who argue that email marketing is a useless exercise and a waste of time and money. They might argue that the only viable marketing strategy is placing PPC ads and then write articles which promote that position.

By promoting a different marketing strategy I am being controversial? How do we measure what is or is not a controversial subject?

From my perspective a controversial article is one in which the writer takes a position which clearly and obviously attacks or defames another point of view. e.g. “People who believe Global Warming is Caused by Human Activity are Idiots”.

This would be quite different from writing an article about the ongoing controversy about global warming. In my opinion presenting facts about a topic in a fair and balanced manner is the mark of a professional writer.

If you can write and article which offers the reader good information, that helps them form their own opinions your writing will be seen to have value and you as a writer will gain stature and develop a reputation as an authority.

Comment provided February 15, 2008 at 9:02 AM

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15
Gayle LaSalle writes:

Chris, I agree that controversy for controversy sake generally does not go over well. I teach several psychology and counseling courses and many assignments don’t have right or wrong answers. The idea is to use critical thinking and for the most part, critical thinking lends to controversy. Helping my students debate requires some provocation on my part. So, controversy or provocative ideas in articles should be used for the same purpose. Getting someone thinking about an issue is more important than getting them to agree with me. gl

Comment provided February 17, 2008 at 7:24 PM

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16
Paul Gooch writes:

The fact that this controversy issue is being discussed here on this blog rather than in an ezine article or rather series of EzineArticles (see next paragraph) proves my point that EzineArticles are not the best platform for controversy!
The only way that it could be discussed on the ezine article platform would be for each contributor to the argument to publish an ezine article expressing his or her views!
This might be followed by another contributor to the argument expressing his or her views in yet another ezine article! (over-use of exclamation marks, I know)
After a while the articles directory in which these articles were published would resemble a kind of disjointed blog rather than an articles directory. Oops, no, maybe it wouldn’t be a disjointed blog, maybe it would be a jointed blog, because each article could be interlinked.
Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of someone who is looking for an ezine article to publish on a website.
This is the whole point of EzineArticles, remember, I feel that some of the contributors to this argument are losing sight of that basic fact.
I imagine that these people would be pretty disappointed if they visited an articles directory, looking for an article which their visitors might find useful and interesting (again, this is the whole point of EzineArticles, remember), and all that they found was a series of articles about controversy, even if they were all interlinked.
I imagine their reaction would be: `um, shouldn’t this kind of stuff be published on a blog?’

Comment provided February 18, 2008 at 1:28 AM

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17
simonmaya writes:

Thanks for your comment on my comment Marvin it inspired me. I figured out a non-controvercial way to present a series of articles on ECO energy saving. People cannot only help to save the environment but save themselves money at the same time.

I created a new author name S Meadowcroft to launch a series of articles on energy savings.

Regards Simon

Comment provided February 18, 2008 at 6:33 AM

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18
Marvin writes:

In response to Simon’s last comment I can only reply that I am pleased to have been able to contribute something positive to the discussion.

Simon has also put his finger clearly on my earlier points. If ever there was a clear example of a controversial subject it would be the ongoing debate about the environment. There is virtually no subject related to the environment which is not fraught with ontroversy.

Journalists face the problem of writing about controversial subjects daily. As professionals they can’t say to their editor, I’m sorry but I can’t write about this topic because it is controversial.

Clearly they can’t write in such a manner that would alienate or anger a percentage of their readers. It would simply be counter productive and economically irresponsible to write articles which might damage the reputation of the publication and possibly hurt circulation or readership.

Faced with such a challenge a professional writer must find a way to write about a controversial topic while not becoming part of that controversy.

If done well then the resulting articles will in fact attract readers and become an important way for them to fully understand something which previously they did not.

As I understand it, that is in fact the whole point of article marketing.

Comment provided February 18, 2008 at 8:52 AM

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19
simonmaya writes:

Commenting on a point Paul made I think we are all doing a good job in using this site in the way it was intended. If I want to have a discussion I go to a discussion forum.

If I cannot find a discussion forum which addresses the area I want to discuss I put it on my own blog or try to set up a discussion furum in that area.

If people have comments about somebody’s article they can always add a comment about that article in the comments section. Personally my comments are always positive because I think that we should all try to support each other.

In the end this is a site for posting articles and not a discussion forum. The forums which do exist here are all related to article writting.

I would suggest that there should also be forums for people who are mainly interested in using this site as a reader resource but that is just my personal crusade at the moment.

Comment provided February 19, 2008 at 3:51 AM

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20
Mekhong Kurt writes:

Some interesting comments here, as the original article itself is interesting.

Perhaps my own point of view is rather peculiar, in that I write a [mostly] weekly column on my website — but that column has included as many as nearly three dozen separate stories.

And the topics are all over the map.

Sometimes I *report* on controversy, even going so far as to explicitly state that no reader should try to figure out my personal stance. I do this when what *I* think is utterly beside the point; I’m more or less functioning as a “sign post” pointing to a controversy my readers might not yet know about but want to do so once they’re aware of it.

On much rarer occasion, I wade in myself. but I live in a country with draconian libel laws, laws carrying not only civil penalties, but also criminal ones — so I have to choose my battles wisely.

In these cases, the hardest part is to get the reader to understand I’m attacking a *position* — not a person; ad hominem attacks are generally useless. Some of my best friends hold views I absolutely oppose, so it would be hypocritical of me to attack them as people, instead of challenging their ideas. We respect each other while disputing details. I extend that to my writing.

I also take great pains to present each side of an issue, especially when I myself am weigh in in on one or the other of them.

Chris makes the point of the downside of too much controversy. I don’t *think* I put too much into my mix, a conclusion derived from writing the column a decade yet being taken to task maybe 304 times only. I mean 3-4 times when the writer wasn’t some idiot flaming because I happened to mention my favorite color is blue and he’s raving how I ought to burn in hell forever (or whatever) because everyone knows blue is evil or drives people mad or some such pap.

Chris, another point is this, and it’s obvious, as I’m sure you agree: someone powerful can use controversy more readily than someone not powerful. I’m thinking “powerful” in the broadest sense, not just political power or something like that. For instance, take the case of Don Imus, the famous shock jock. Given his enormous draw, he can get away with a heck of a lot I never would dare even entertain, even were I so inclined. But he can, and does. And good for him he can. (Though I disagree with Imus on just about everything, I do have to tip my hat to him in this regard.)

Me? I have little influence and just about zero power, so, to come full circle, I do wade in — judiciously.

Comment provided July 8, 2008 at 12:30 AM

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21
box bcn writes:

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Comment provided March 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM

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