My report last year on the things I want gone from the web wasn’t as prophetic as I hoped. I was really hoping that people would get a “hint” – okay, a slam across the forehead – and clean up the web. The things that really annoy me, and many others, are still around, though there have been some changes and improvements this year.
Here is the status of what I wanted to see gone from the web in 2007:
- Kill All Popup Windows: Okay, for the most part, people are getting the clue and not forcing links to open in windows or tabs. Bloggers are getting the hint and turning off Snap Preview or whatever it is now called because while they thought it was neat, their readers hated it. However, more and more people are buying into link ads which pop up balloons when your mouse accidentally hovers over what we think is a real link and isn’t. Popup windows are insidious and I still want them gone.
- Out-of-control Advertising: Oh, please, it’s not better. Ads in links, faking us out, are everywhere and ads are everywhere else. Sure, a LOT of big time bloggers gave up on ads and took them down, which gave me great hope. Then, many succumbed to new forms of advertising. Still, it’s improved. Sometimes.
- Constantly Auto-Reloading Web Pages: Auto-reloading web pages are now few, but they still are around. I know how to reload the page and will do so when I want to, not when you think I need to. This is really frustrating when you are on satellite or cell phone Internet access where bandwidth is counted. By the time a slow loading, graphic heavy web page loads, it often reloads, doubling the bandwidth score, and making it impossible to even see the page before it reloads. Stop this silliness.
- Blog Bling: The glut of useless widgets and gadgets continues. Stop it. It’s bandwidth wasting and time wasting nonsense.
- Music on Websites: For the most part, people are getting the clue that music that starts upon a page loading is horrible and must be destroyed. Unfortunately, I see it popping up in videos, especially flash and video ads, which play music and dance around as soon as the page loads. We’ve won on this, and lost in another way.
- Tiny Fonts: Most professional blogs and blog designers got the point. Make web fonts readable, not microscopic. Unfortunately, many personal bloggers, especially those who control their own web design without a lot of experience and training, still choose microscopic fonts.
- Link Spawning – Open Links in New Windows: This has definitely improved, though new bloggers have to be slapped around on this point repeatedly. People know how to use the BACK button on their browser. Don’t worry. If you give them something worth leaving your blog for, they’ll be back. That’s the wonderful magic of blogging. Besides, if you want them to really come back, make it simple and easy to subscribe to your blog’s feed.
- Kill Off Anything that Moves: This is something that continues to be unwanted, and for the most part, our cries were heard. Unfortunately, older sites are still plagued with moving, blinking, flashing, and horrible ads. Let’s kill off the old sites if they don’t update their ads and blink and flashing crap. Don’t visit them. Don’t link to them. Don’t honor them for maintaining this horrible technique. Let them die alone.
- Flash is Not Content: Flash is here, it’s everywhere, and it continues to not be content nor search engine friendly. It’s a plague. The designers and developers of flash have got to get some text and accessibility back ups working now.
- Don’t Violate Your Own Privacy: The issue of online privacy has come a long way. We are now more aware that everything – and I mean everything – we do on the web can be held against us. We’re being more protective of our privacy, private issues, and private information, but an interesting thing has happened. People are no longer hiding behind pseudonyms as much as they were before. They understand that their online activities are part of their resume, especially bloggers who want to be known as experts in their field. They want you to know them. They want to be known. And they work hard to ensure that they protect their personal life while maintaining a very personable, public life on the web.
- Do Not Splog or Plagiarize Others: It’s not a lost cause, but plagiarism for income is becoming one of the biggest industries on the web, making money off your content. I predict that unless content theft is stopped, unless life for scrapers are made really miserable, the plagiarism business will grow to compete with porn, drugs, and casinos.
- Comment Spam: Anyone seen this drop off lately? SIGH.
- Do Not Get in the Way of Commenters: The message finally got through that CAPTCHAs and torture tests do not work and only interfere with the commenting process. Some continue to use it, but many commenters are not commenting if they see these in the comment box, losing comments and traffic.
- Time Wasting Comments: The comment conversation is improving as people are learning that comments are mini-resumes and content.
- Forcing Email Comment Subscriptions/Notify Me of Followup Comments Via Email: I’ve seen a tremendous drop off in the forcing commenters to do anything other than leave comments. We need to be able to leave a comment without interference, and then sign up or subscribe to things by choice, not force. This has definitely improved.
- Stop Spyware/Malware: Spyware and malware is still around, but I think we’re smarter and anti-programs are more protective. It’s improving, as long as we stop being stupid and careless.
- Multiple Page Views/Print View: I really think that once most bloggers thought about it, breaking their blog posts up into multiple pages sucked and they stopped. There are still websites that do it, and a very few bloggers still like the idea, but I’m seeing less and less of this annoyance, aren’t you?
- Design for Print: Sigh, not changed. I think it should be a requirement. If your WordPress Theme isn’t printable, if it doesn’t come with a print.css or print section in the stylesheet, it shouldn’t be allowed to be used in WordPress.com or on any official WordPress Theme list. In my humble opinion. Freakin’ paper wasters.
- Stop Email Crap: Filters are better, but still, this remains not only one of the biggest rants, but big business. At least some people are getting wise about stopping the forwarding of every joke, movie, PowerPoint slide show (how many sunset pictures and music slide shows do you have to forward a month? We’ve seen the funny cat and dog pictures enough, okay?), and unconfirmed hysterical warning. Not all, but some are getting the message to stop littering cyberspace.
- Stop Obsessing Over Page Rank and Traffic: Nope. We haven’t learned.
- Forced Width Web Page Layouts: Table-based and forced width web page layouts are EVERYWHERE. Use the whole screen, folks.
- Evil Bloggers: Evil bloggers have moved from mean bloggers to mean people who comment on or about blogs, to hackers who figure out that you haven’t updated your WordPress blog and take delight in hacking it or stuffing ads inside without you knowing. Evil is everywhere. I believe that when people congregate, they bring evil with them. The more people online, the more evil. You have been warned. This will get worse before it gets better and I’m not sure the fighters of evil can keep up with the time wasting evil doers.
- Spell Check, Folks: With Firefox’s built-in spell check, spelling has definitely improved, though more and more non-native English speakers are writing in English than ever before. While spelling is better, grammar still sucks. But that doesn’t bother me as much. I can read between the lines if the point is solid and interesting, can’t you?
- A Hack is Not a Tip: I was stunned to see the sudden drop off of articles titled “10 WordPress Hacks” when it should be “10 WordPress Tips”. Now, everyone is going with “tips” not “hacks”, putting the word back into its proper usage. I’m thrilled.
- Make Your Post Titles Make Sense: Wow. I was stunned to see so many bloggers get the point that titles that make sense are more powerful than useless titles. I’m seeing fewer posts titled “May 17, 2006” or “My Favorite Things” or the really informative “I Can’t Believe He Said That”. I still see too many “Hello, World” and “What I Did Today” post titles, and a lot of deceptive titles like “50 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Blog” which takes you to not a list, but an ad to sell you some trumped up paid package to help you improve your WordPress blog. Those can go, but bloggers are learning that their post titles are the most important business card they can hand out on the web, inviting people to their blogs.
- Write Your About Page: The blogosphere GOT IT! Yeah! Bloggers now understand the importance of an About Page on their blog and how many people click it within the first group of clicks on a blog. Readers want to know who wrote this, why, and what makes them an expert on the subject. And bloggers are paying more attention to their About Page. YEAH!
- Like Like and Like More: I don’t want to like give up like on the like thing, but like is becoming the like accent word of like Americans. You know you are talking to an American, no matter where they come from in the states, if you hear four “likes” and two “like mores” within the first one minute of conversation or blog writing. Writing like you talk has its place. Writing like how you like talk, doesn’t.
This year, I’m asking you what you want gone from the web to add to my own collection which I’ll publish in January.
What do you want gone from the web? Are you sick of comment spam? Popup tabs and windows? Things that wink and blink at you? What do you really want erased from the history of the web forever? What nags you? Bothers you? What makes you want to scream when you find them on blogs and websites?
Or be more general. What do you really want gone from the web?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.