Every once in a while I encounter an online service or Web site that is so irritating that it seems like the people behind the service are just in it to frustrate Web users. And I don’t mean the obvious candidates like email spammers and purveyors of popup ads since they’ve been around for so long I’ve either learned how to ignore and avoid them.
There is a new generation of irritants and many of them are part of the new lunacy we call “Web 2.0”
Flash Widgets with Embedded PDF Documents: Somewhere along the line a bunch of startups decided that they needed to put a “Web 2.0” spin on the simple concept of hosting people’s office documents online. You see, lots of people would like to share documents in PDF or Microsoft Office® formats that aren’t particularly Web friendly. So how have sites like Scribd and Docstoc fixed this problem? By creating a Flash widgets containing the embedded PDF/Office documents like the one shown here. So not only are the documents still in a Web unfriendly format but now I can’t even download them and use the tools on my desktop to read them. It’s like let’s combine the FAIL of putting non-Web documents on the Web with the fail of a Web-unfriendly format like Flash. FAIL++. By the way, it’s pretty ironic that a Microsoft enterprise product gets this right where so many “Web 2.0” startups get it wrong.
- Hovering Over Links Produces Flash Widgets as Pop Over Windows: The company that takes the cake for spreading this major irritant across the blogosphere is Snap Technologies and their Snap Shots™ product. There’s nothing quite as irritating as hovering over a link on your way to click another link and leaving a wake of pop over windows with previews of the Web pages at the end of said links. I seriously wonder if anyone finds this useful?
Facebook Advertisers: One of the promises of Facebook is that its users will see more relevant advertising because there is all this rich demographic data about the site’s users in their profiles. Somewhere along the line this information is either getting lost or being ignored by Facebook’s advertisers. Even though my profile says I’m married and out of my twenties I keep getting borderline sleazy ads whenever I login to play Scrabulous asking if I want to meet college girls. Then there are the ads which aren’t for dating sites but still use sleazy imagery anyway. It’s mad embarrassing whenever my wife looks over to see what I’m doing on my laptop to have dating site ads blaring in her face. Obviously she knows I’m not on a dating site but still…
Forums that Require Registration Showing Up in Search Results : Every once in a while I do a Web search for a programming problem and a couple of links to Experts Exchange end up in the results. What is truly annoying about this site is that the excerpt on the search result page makes it seem as though the answer to your question is one click away but when you click through you are greeted with “All comments and solutions are available to Premium Service Members only”. I thought search engines had rules about banning sites with that sort of obnoxious behavior?
Newspaper Websites with Interstitial Ads and Registration Requirements: Newspapers such as the New York Times often act as if they don’t really want me reading the content on their Web site. If I click on a link to a story on the New York Times site such as this one, one of two things will happen; I’m either taken to a full page animated advertisement with an option to skip the ad in relatively small font or I get a one sentence summary of the story with a notice that I need to register on their Web site before I can read the story. Either way it’s a bunch of bull crap that prevents me from getting to the news.
There are two things that strike me about this list as notable. The first is that there are an increasing number of “Web 2.0” startups out there who are actively using Flash to cause more problems than they claim to be solving. The second is that requiring registration to view content is an amazingly stupid trend that is beyond dumb. It’s not like people need to register on your site to see ads so why reduce the size of your potential audience by including this road block? That’s just stupid.
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