One of the great dilemmas of online life that no one really talks about is "risky links." By that I mean links that you are genuinely afraid of clicking because of where they might lead - someone tells you you should NEVER google 'degloving' and sends you a link...do you click it? Well, you're kinda morbidly curious at this point, so - even though you KNOW you'll regret it - you just HAVE to click that link to satisfy your curiosity.
But what if there was another option? What if there was someone who would click on the links FOR YOU and tell you how bad it is and whether you really need to see it or not? Who would tell you exactly what's in there using words so you don't have to have the horrifying image of a degloving accident burned into your mind forever?
That person exists: a redditor who goes by (appropriately enough) u/ClicksOnLinks.
Whenever you're browsing reddit, all you need to do is simply summon ClicksOnLinks in the comments of any thread by typing out their name - and like magic, they'll show up, click on the risky link, and tell you what it is. You can decide from there whether you want to click it too (hint: you usually don't wanna click it).
We were amazed to find this person out there, giving up their time (free of charge) to offer some of the least-glamorous services imaginable - and we wanted to find out the story behind this. Here's our interview with u/ClicksOnLinks (with a few samples of their works sprinkled throughout to give you a sense of their heroic efforts and sacrifices):
You're doing a pretty cool service for reddit that is very useful to people, but at the expense of having to view NSFW/NSFL content regularly. What made you want to volunteer your time to do this?
ClicksOnLinks: I started this project of mine when the industry in which I work had taken a downturn, I found myself having a lot of extra time on my hands and spent the vast majority of it on Reddit.
After encountering several comments containing links that folks had expressed a concern on clicking, I had taken it upon myself to find out what was on the other side and relayed that information to everyone afraid of clicking them. I am very desensitized, so I went for it, I figured I could put my superpower to good use.
After this scenario had played out multiple times I had the idea to make the account and started clicking on links for folks.
What's been the general reddit reaction to you? Do people thank you for your time and effort?
ClicksOnLinks: The reaction has been positive, a bit overwhelming at times, but very positive. At first I expected maybe a few people per week calling on my services, but I think it was after people started paging me to some of the more disturbing posts on subs like WTF and such that it really started to take off, I didn't do very much advertising, aside from a funny copypasta I came up with that I'd post every now and then when someone would comment on a risky click, so it took some time.
As far as people thanking me, almost everyone does, every now and then you get someone who doesn't so much as give a single reply but that's okay with me. My partner actually mentioned earlier today how surprised they were how thankful everyone had been.
How much time per day were you spending clicking on links for people? How often were people summoning you?
ClicksOnLinks: I'm a bit of an insomniac I usually only sleep 4-5 hours per night, when I am awake and not preoccupied by my job or my family I was pretty much always online, but even when I was busy I was trying to check reddit at least every hour.
Toward the beginning I may have received a single summon per week and I was super excited when I did. Lately it ranges from a few times per day to dozens when stuff like the "what's the worst thing you've seen on the internet" r/AskReddit threads that occasionally pop up hit the front page.
What kind of stuff did you get asked to click on the most?
ClicksOnLinks: This image of Peyton Manning:
Are there any kinds of links that you WON'T click on?
ClicksOnLinks: If I have even the slightest reason to believe it contains child porn, there's absolutely no way I'm clicking that.
Other than that though, no, not really.
Is there an emotional toll to being summoned to click on the kinds of things that people are genuinely afraid to click on themselves?
ClicksOnLinks: Most definitely, I've forced myself to see some pretty horrible things, most don't have any kind of effect but some I see for days when I close my eyes. Fortunately those are very rare.
What was the worst thing you'd ever seen when being asked to click on a link?
ClicksOnLinks: I would have to say the video of a young girl hanging herself.
I've seen brutal torture videos, horrible accidents, countless deaths but this one video messed with my head for days.
What was the best thing you'd ever seen?
ClicksOnLinks: It's definitely this video someone sent me months ago
I don't know why but that video cracks me up every time.
Do people ever summon you to click on nice happy things, like r/UpliftingNews or r/WholesomeMemes? If not, do you wish they would?
ClicksOnLinks: Never to those subs but I commonly get linked to photos of kittens and puppies and all kinds of baby animals, usually with a comment along the lines of "you see so much fucked up stuff, heres a [insert name of baby animal here]"
Well, I just want to say thank you for your work - it's a genuinely helpful service you're offering to strangers at your own expense. That's incredibly admirable.
Also can you describe what a "blue waffle" is?
ClicksOnLinks: No problem! I enjoy being helpful.
Blue waffle is(was?) A shocksite with an image of a vagina with a gnarly, crusty yeast infection. Said vagina had a blueish coloration, hence the name "blue waffle".
I will be sure to tag you to look at cute puppy pics whenever I'm browsing r/Aww.
ClicksOnLinks: I'd appreciate that, sometimes I need a break from all the dead babies and degloved hands.