Friday, June 28, 2013

Things the Internet Needs to Lose

No point in railing here about pop-ups, slide shows, and the like. Those are driven by ad revenue, for which my cure is to tax the bejeebers out of advertising. These are stupid things web sites do for which there is no excuse. They're simply annoying and are the result of dumb design.

User Accounts

They're not keeping out trolls. They're not keeping out spam. Those bot catchers have merely led to paid trolls posting ads on their personal accounts. They're not keeping the discourse civil. So what's the point?

Oh, yeah, selling those precious demographics.

This is doubly inexcusable on government sites. I paid for the information with my tax dollars. There is no valid reason for me to have to set up a user account with, say, the U.S, Geological Survey (a major offender).

Bait and Switch

"Log in with your favorite social account." So you do. Then, at the end, you get shunted to "One last thing, now create an account with us."

Better idea: Don't tell us we can log in with a social account unless we actually can without any additional steps.

Even worse are sites where there's nothing to indicate there's a login. You have a bare comments box. So all those sites with "hello" for a comment? Well, that's me, checking on whether or not I need to jump through hoops before writing something lengthy.

Identity Crisis

So you actually do go to the trouble of creating an account just to make one lousy post. Then you see "That e-mail is already in use."

That's because it's me, you idiots! If I already have an account there (because I posted something six months ago), let me in! Especially if you already have my identity from a social account.

Do It All Over Again

"We've changed our log-in procedures so we need to have you re-enter your account information."

The only change worthwhile is to junk the log-in. But if you must switch things around, don't ask me to do your housekeeping for youYou export the account data to your new system.

This also applies to sites that mysteriously and spontaneously lose your login info. So I create a user account and a password, and dutifully store it in a password manager. And it works. Then mysteriously, it stops working, even if I logged in an hour earlier. Even if I have my browser remember and input the password automatically. If you can't store my password in a stable fashion, how about scrapping the whole process?

Hidden Paywalls

So you click on a link to a story, only to find the story hidden  by a paywall pop-up, or faded out after a couple of paragraphs.

You have nothing I'm willing to pay for. Raise your advertising rates by a factor of ten. A New York Times opinion piece? You have to be kidding. This is the Internet. I can read all the stupid opinions I can stomach for free.

Vertical Video Complaints

I have no problem with vertical video. For some subjects it's appropriate. How about web site managers get off their lazy butts and create pages that accept vertical video? You detect the format of the video, and if it's vertical, you scale it to fit on screen, and rearrange page elements to fit alongside. That wasn't so hard, was it? I'll get a high school kid to help you.

Talking Head

Don't expect me to care about your story if you don't care enough to write out a transcript. This means you, too, Upworthy. Video is to show things that are in motion, and that does not include a reporter's lips.