Ten Things You All Need To Stop Doing Immediately.

1) Making web sites that I have to join even to browse. Especially if your web site exists with the intention of selling me something. If I had to sign up for a mailing list to walk into a store, I’d never walk into that store.

2) Using that “beverage on keyboard or monitor” joke. I love tired old stale jokes as much as the next guy, as evidenced by my continued enjoyment of LOLcats. And even I got tired of the “you owe me a new keyboard” thing sometime before Mosaic was released. It was a clever witticism when first used back on Usenet before the Great Renaming. Now it’s just a supremely inefficient way of saying “LOL.”

3) Creating links that always open a new tab or window. This is a lot more common than it used to be, and there may well be some people who expect it as the default. If your machine has enough RAM, this may not bother you: you may even find it convenient.  I like being able to open things in a new tab, too, so that I can check out a link and continue reading your page where I left off. I do that when I want to by holding down a key as I click. Having that choice taken away from me means every single link I click eats more RAM, and it costs me an hour a day or more dealing with RAM shortage induced slowness.

4) Variations on the “You Win The Internet” comment as a means of agreeing emphatically. This isn’t nearly as time-worn as the joke mentioned in #2, but wouldn’t it be nice to let it remain slightly funny by going on to another joke?

5) Running web ads that load after the page does, and then cause other items on the page to shift positions as it loads. Most commonly, this is seen in top banner ads that push everything else down the screen a couple of inches. Usually just as I click on the story I want to read, only to have that link scroll out from under my pointer causing me to open up either an ad or a resource-intensive page I had no intention of loading.

6) Ending a comment by saying something like “Flame away.” Or “Go ahead and ban me.” You are almost certainly not as heroically iconoclastic as you think you are. If you were, you wouldn’t claim to be. It’s like being “innovative” or “a maverick”: claiming you are usually means you aren’t.

7) “tl;dr.” This is first cousin to the perennial “I don’t care about this unimportant topic” comment, which is a self-refuting comment. Going out of your way to proclaim a post too long to retain your interest says more about you than it does about the essay. Sure, plenty of people online go on at great and self-indulgent length where they could have been much more concise, and this blog offers a number of examples of the practice, possibly including this post. But an effective counter to that involves using actual words to detail your objection to longwindedness. Saying “tl;dr” isn’t an effective criticism of longwindedness: it’s a confession of your short attention span and laziness.

8) Calling them “infographics” when they aren’t. This is an infographic. It conveys information in graphical form, using text as labels rather than the sole source of actual information. This is NOT an infographic. It’s a bunch of information in text for with pretty pictures to decorate it, and would be no less informative if you took the images out.

9) Using images to publish a piece of text you like, as in:

When you post images with words in them but fail to provide a caption or alt text, you are saying that you do not care whether blind people are included in your sharing of information. And quite frankly, that sucks ass. -Helen Keller

In addition to the accessibility issue, you may have noticed that Helen Keller probably didn’t say anything like the above.  Misattributions of people’s words are rampant with these things. That’s probably inevitable: asking people to factcheck whether Chief Seattle actually said anything about thousands of rotting buffalo carcasses is almost certainly too much to expect of people. (He didn’t, by the way.) But in addition to the whole accessibility issue, images take a lot longer to download, and a lot more memory to display, than the text you’re actually sharing. Not much of an issue for a single image, but when was the last time you went to Facebook and saw just one of these on a page?

10) Speaking of #9: those things that are essentially the same thing except they have a bunch of animated gifs in comic-strip sequence, showing an interaction or event with dialogue that was originally part of a fully web-compatible video? Cut that shit out this instant.

3 thoughts on “Ten Things You All Need To Stop Doing Immediately.

  1. tedra

    Do you know, I have always done #3 because I hate when I click on something and it takes me away from the page, but yes; I have grown pretty accustomed to just holding down the command key so it opens a new tab instead. And I had not thought of the RAM problem. I will stop doing that, I think.