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From Astral Codex Ten: Every Flashing Element On Your Site Alienates And Enrages Users

File that under Truer Words Were Never Spoken.

Yes. Yes, those elements alienate and enrage uses and everyone should quit using them. In fact! My new platform for when I run for political office will include making those dratted flashing elements illegal, as well as getting rid of telemarketer phone calls once and for all.

Scott says:

A few days ago I needed to look up an obscure point of Jewish law, as you do, and found this Jewish law website. The background toggles every few seconds between a picture of a rabbi and a picture of . . . a different rabbi? There’s no conceivable benefit to this and it makes it almost impossible to concentrate on the text.

Right! That’s the thing about flashing this and that on websites! Blinking images make it impossible to concentrate on the text and there is NO CONCEIVABLE BENEFIT, so cut it out!

Having read the post, though, I will add that I don’t find this type of thing as annoying as Scott does. I literally had not noticed that gmail blinks a “saving draft” message at the top corner of your email when you are typing an email. I HAD noticed that this WordPress site blinks to a “saving draft” message every few seconds at the top of the page, but this doesn’t annoy me.

I am now grateful that I’m not in the 17% of users who find that unendurable. I guess it’s good to start the day grateful for something. However, I would be MUCH MORE GRATEFUL if website designers would not have extremely obtrusive, rapidly strobing images anywhere the actual text I am trying to read. Speaking as someone who isn’t bothered by the “saving draft” message, I am confident that EVERYONE hates that.

While at Astral Codex Ten, I also looked at this post: Your Incentives Are Not The Same As Media Companies’

Unfortunately I hate many of you.

Only the ones with Twitter accounts. If you don’t have one of those, you’re fine. But if you do have one, there’s a good chance you said something which horribly offended me. You said everyone who believed X was an idiot and a Nazi, and I believed X. You read the title but not the body of an article about some group I care about, and viciously insulted them based on your misunderstanding of their position. You spent five seconds thinking of a clever dunk on someone who happened to be a friend of mine trying really hard to make the world better, and ruined their day.

Maybe the people who do these things think it’s all water under the bridge. It’s not. I block people on a hair trigger, which means that I’ll never see anything else you write, ever again. If you make one ill-considered “haha, aren’t people who think [your strawman of my position] so stupid”, then you can be as eloquent and scholarly as you want in everything else you write, and I will never get a chance to consider it or change my mind or feature your ideas on ACX.

I don’t just block you on Twitter. Until I forget who you are – which might take years – I get mildly upset every time I see your name. If someone links to an article you write, I’ll close it as soon as I recognize the byline. If you’re at some kind of real-life event I’m also attending, I’ll avoid you. I’ve had negative associations with whole political movements just because one of their members insulted a person I respect, in some especially unfair way. I’ve sometimes found myself being irrationally uncharitable to everyone named Albert or Allen or Alvin just because a totally different guy named Alfred was a jerk on Twitter.

This isn’t out of some kind of principle. It’s how my emotions naturally work. I think it’s a natural human urge, and a lot of other people work the same way.

Wow, Scott. I pretty much quit using Twitter because of this (well, in part because of this), but at least I don’t generalize from one jackass named Albert to everybody named Albert. At least, I don’t think I do that. I don’t have that quick a hair-trigger for blocking people either, although come to think of it, if I did, maybe I would enjoy Twitter more and spend more time over there.

But that’s not exactly what the post is about. The post is actually suggesting that when people imitate the style of confrontational journalists, they alienate practically everyone. That … may be true. It’s probably worth considering.

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7 thoughts on “Flashing banner ads”

  1. This made me laugh, because I’m actually a tiny bit sympathetic to Scott’s position. I have a knee-jerk anti-Jennifer attitude, which I recognize and realize is unfair, but there is a Jennifer in the world who shaded the name for me forever. I don’t even remember the details of what she said, but it was such a crazy, ugly overreaction to some internet controversy that I recoiled. And I don’t remember her last name, so any Jennifer could be *that* Jennifer! Completely unfair to all the other Jennifers writing books out there, but I tend to reject books by Jennifers really quickly. I have to talk myself into looking at the Look Inside.

  2. Sarah, wow. That’s kind of funny, but what a pity it was someone with such a common name! I wonder how many people named “Jennifer” are authors? A lot, I bet.

    That’s making me think of the impression I had for a while, kind of the other way around, that probably anybody named “Patricia” was a pretty good writer. There seemed to be a lot of Patricias writing good books! Patricia McKillip, Patricia Briggs, Patricia Bray …

  3. Blinking cues for something you need to do (e.g., saving an email) is one thing, but blinking ads and random pictures is entirely another! And then we wonder why people have the attention span of a gnat these days…

  4. Yes, Deb, but it’s not blinking to tell YOU to save the email. It’s blinking to assure you that IT is saving the email, in case maybe you need reassurance on that point.

    I don’t mind that. Thinking about it, I actually like a program to tell me it’s saving something just so I know the autosave function is active and working properly.

  5. I agree with the irritation for blinking things, and would broaden that to things that unnecessarily move and tilt weirdly. Those can make people feel dizzy and sick.
    Then there are a lot more sins against readability that don’t make people sick, like text-on-images where the image has too little contrast with the text color, but that’s a different subject.

    Totally off-topic, the screen on my phone just suddenly stopped working yesterday, so I had to get a new one – I can’t even log in to work without the authenticator on my phone.
    This new phone (another Samsung) does something strange with this blog – it puts [1] in place of the name of the poster. So the blogpost headers say it’ “by [1]”, and all the names of the commenters show as [1] with the date and time below.

    Why does it always need to be such a hassle to get new electronic equipment working the way it should?
    I have no idea how to solve this, will have to search for it and visit websites I don’t know, which might be untrustworthy… grrrr…..

  6. That’s not you, Hanneke. I saw the thing with the [1] above all comments last night, checked from this computer at work a second ago, and just emailed ClockPunk Studios to ask if this is a general WordPress glitch or if something has happened just to this site.

    … and Jeremiah found the problem and fixed it and therefore comments should be displaying correctly now. They look fine to me, so hopefully also for you.

    But your general comment about new tech never working right and always being a hassle is spot on. Grrrr is right!

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