THE SECRETS OF WRITING SMART, LONG-FORM ARTICLES THAT GO ABSOLUTELY VIRAL GOING DEEP WITH THE FOUNDERS OF WAIT BUT WHY, WHO SHOW THAT THOUGHTFUL, LONG-FORM CONTENT IS KING. BY MICHAEL GROTHAUS Note: BuzzFeed publishes several long and excellent feature stories every week, as you can see on their Big Stories page. We did not intend to belittle the work of the editors and writers there, and we regret if that was the takeaway. — Noah Robischon, Executive Editor. Over the last several years many professional writers and journalists have lamented what's been called the BuzzFeedification of the Internet. This is an Internet where, it seems, a steady stream of churn-and-burn content is king, and anything of substance is only second best. It’s an Internet where if you want to get a job writing for one of the hottest media companies on the web, your knowledge of how and why information is shared online is as important as your writing talent. And it’s an Internet that the content masters at sites like BuzzFeed,PlayBuzz, ViralNova, and Upworthy have created in direct response to the supposed needs of the TL;DR Generation—a generation comprised of modern Internet users conditioned to communicating with text messages, 140 character tweets—and, when even that’s too much, posting a Snapchat pic that exists for less time than a yawn. Increasingly, news organizations are relying on apps like Snapchat and Facebook not only to build their audiences but to host their content, in ways that are designed to capture readers' supposedly shrinking attention spans, which are thought to be so short that anything longer than a six-second Vine or a listicle that takes longer than 30 seconds to assimilate could have them clicking or tapping away to the next bit of stimulation. "Long-form writing is great," an editor at one of these major new-media publications once told me, "but no one shares it." I protested, and he challenged me to send him a link to one long-form site whose articles get at least tens of thousands of shares. "Not just one article—a majority of the articles on the site." At the time, I couldn’t. But now I have a link for him: A young, bare-bones website called Wait But Why is disproving the notion that thoughtful, long-form content and virality are mutually exclusive.