Top 10 Web features introduced by Satan

Now updated for the first decade of the 21st century…

We all know the lovely story of how Satan introduced us to knowledge via an apple (who eats an apple pointed out by a snake?)… Well like all good things we had to go and build nukes and reality TV with it (equally destructive civilization ending devices) and ruin a good thing.

Seems like the trend has continued since then since we can’t seem to use knowledge to build useful things for long.

Nested Comments

Just because Usenet had it aeons ago doesn’t mean everyone else should!  And I primarily blame SlashDot for reintroducing this to a whole new generation. For a while Digg was doing the sensible thing by limiting it to just two levels. Then they did this idiotic sequential load thingy with AJAX.

What’s wrong with typing “@somebody” at the start of your comment? I could go on and on about this, but Joel Spolsky has already done a wonderful job explaining why this “feature” is pointless (along with other practical knowledge).

AJAX/JavaScript only Pagers

Ah yes, nothing like knowing you had to browse through an entire index of useless content, only to hit the “back” button and kick yourself.

You idiots owe me a new pair of boots… And jeans.

Splash pages

The prowess of one’s splash page and “intro” are often inversely proportional to the quality of content within. If I have to download “War and Peace, the Musical” while waiting to see your sub-par content, I’d rather be reading the book. Everyone knows the book is always better. I repeat… the book is always better… Always!

Even with the “skip” button on there, chances are I’ve already skipped the whole site.

Java

Not script, I mean Java… of the applet variety.

Seriously? What year is this again? 2009/10-ish?

Customisable themes

A little while ago, I created a theme switcher to show how you can utilise a single layout and codeset while only changing the stylesheet and images. This was only meant to allow web developers build a useful layout that they didn’t have to change much. It does not mean you have to allow users to switch their stylesheet or that I condone this behavior in any way.

How insecure are you with your own layout decision that you want to let the user switch between a dozen others?

Pick a layout and bloody stick with it!

In-Content ads

Sometimes an entire article is interrupted right in the middle to bring you a “word from our sponsors”. 

And people wonder why we block ads.

Side note :

The whole reason I don’t watch as much TV any more, save for a few favorite shows, is because TV is already full of ads sprinkled with little worthwhile content. Except for a few shows on the Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, History, Sci-fi, Cartoon Network,  there isn’t much “good” stuff to watch.  If the shows were great to begin with, I wouldn’t even mind sitting through them. But I forgot they were catering to the same population that elected Bush twice.

I remember when TLC was “The Learning Channel” before it was the “Bringing Home Baby” network. And when Bravo used to be “The Film and Arts Network” before turning into “Reality BS Central”. Bravo was really a tragic transition.

And I’ll be damned if I need to subscribe to yet another service just to not watch ads on an unwatchable lineup.

PDF

Did you scan this document from printed text?
Do you have graphics or other visual aids in the text that needed to be positioned absolutely in a precise location or ruin the whole presentation?

If you answered “no” to the above two questions, and still published in PDF with no HTML alternative, you’re an idiot. Please step forward so I may stamp “Idiot” on your forhead in permanent ink so we all can avoid striking up a conversation with you or even listening to you.

Beta

Do you know why Google was able to get away with Gmail in the beta stage for so long? Their “beta” is actually production quality. No one wants to forgive you for creating a site with sloppy code and poor organization just because you have a “Beta” tag next to the site title.

Finish the site! Then publish.

Mobile Un-Friendly pages

Yes, let’s provide the best content visual styles possible for the fat-clients and send the unreadable blobs of text smeared with navigation options for the thin-clients. The biggest culprits are the uber stylish designers. You know… The ones who dedicated the upper half of the page for a nice banner. Then go ahead and dump the navigation at the bottom of the page so we get to skip each and every item on the page before we can skip to what we want to read.

As nice as it is that you think my scroll finger needs a workout, I’d rather read first and scroll later.

Here’s a little “Scared Straight” factoid for all you design nincompoops… The world is going mobile. That means smaller screens and even shorter attention spans. Pick your layout for your content, not the other way around.

“Free” Registration to view content

Of course we all know it isn’t free. You’re paying for it by divulging your email address, full name, mother’s maiden name, phone number, address, times you won’t be at home, social security etc… etc…

TechRepublic is one of the absolute worst at this. I just want to read a simple article, not sell out my first born! Can anyone from TR tell me why so much detailed info is necessary? If I want to fill out a survey, I’ll do that seperately! Not during registration!!

… And why the hell do I need to register to view poorly titled and poorly written code?

7 thoughts on “Top 10 Web features introduced by Satan

  1. You speak the truth!
    Especially about PDF’s.
    I hate PDF’s on webpages. And they always seem to crash my computer.
    Curses on you!

  2. lol @ applets

    Back in 2004, I was a TA for an introductory object-oriented programming course that I had aced the year before. However, my first semester as a TA, they decided to teach the students how to write applets. I hadn’t received any instruction on how to write them, and when I saw how they could be used and what sorts of assignments we had the students do with them, I was thoroughly happy with having not had to deal with that crap when I had actually taken the course.

    I agree with every other item…except nested comments! Granted, I’ve actually broken the LiveJournal comment-nesting mechanism (there were so many levels of nesting, the rendering application thought it had gone into an infinite recursive loop and crashed, so some of those comments are now utterly irretrievable :P ), so there does eventually reach a ridiculous level of nesting that is…well, ridiculous. But I think there ought be more than one or two levels.

    Where the hard limit is and how posting is regulated beyond that point are questions I don’t know how to answer, so even though I think one or two levels isn’t enough, until I have answers to those questions I’ll default to the much-more-learned opinions of my peers, yourself included.

  3. I find the reasonable limit to be at <= 5 for nested comments. Any more and it becomes really distracting. And it even makes users go off-topic far too often (case in point, Digg and /.)

    Of course this is strictly personal preference. I’m sure someone else would find 7-9 resonable while someone else would balk at any more than 2. 5 Is right there in the middle so I think it could work well for most situations.

    One other thing I forgot to mention was comment quotes.
    Sometimes, people quote an entire message which isn’t always necessary. I think this is another bad habit held over from the Usenet days. Along with nested comments, the original messages are all quoted. The modern web doesn’t need this kind of "reminder" as all they have to do is either scroll up or return to the previous page.

    In that BBCode example I posted earlier, I had a quote limit just to prevent an entire thread from being repeated. I think I limited the quote depth to 3 or something.

    As for applets…
    Talk about dodging the proverbial bullet :P

  4. Pingback: Mobile or Responsive? How about both | This page intentionally left ugly

    • Thanks!

      For the forum I’m writing I thought about nested comments (maybe 2-3 levels), but decided it was just simpler to go flat thread. Definitely will keep JavaScript to a minimum though.

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