Jul 11

Sites behaving badly

Way back at the beginning, when Al Gore invented the Internet, the rules were set:

Those who do the browsing should be able to choose what they see and hear. They should not have to worry about being grabbed by the collar and forced to see or hear anything they didn’t ask for.

Call it “respect for the customer.” Or just common courtesy.

Unfortunately, there’s a growing trend that’s making common courtesy much less common.

Maybe it’s just me — or my aberrant browsing habits — but in recent weeks I’ve bumped into more and more sites that violate the Prime Directive.

Suddenly, out of the blue, an ad or video begins to auto-play. If it comes after I’ve been listening to music and my volume is turned way up, it can shock me out of my skin.

I must then hunt down the offending video amongst my many browser windows and tabs to turn it the hell off. Oftentimes it’s easier (though far more annoying) to just quit my browser and start all over again.

Sometimes, if I can locate the auto-playing video, I find it’s started with an ad that doesn’t even offer an option to pause until it’s finished playing. At that point, I’ll just exit the page altogether to rid myself of it — which I’m sure is the opposite of the site’s intention.

A variant of the auto-play intrusion is the “mouse rollover” approach. I was recently reading an article on Macworld.com while going back and forth with something I was writing in another window. A rollover ad in the path of my mouse would pop up into a large window and auto-play every time I glided over it. Due to a mouse hand that instinctively follows a straight path, I accidentally popped this little bugger open more than a dozen times in the course of just a few minutes.

Yes, at one time, sites used to be protective of our privacy. It was up to us to hit the Enable Sound or Play Video buttons. When those decisions are taken away from us, it’s unsettling.

Every site has its own rules re: what advertisers are allowed to do to attract attention. And of course they control their own auto-playing content. The reason for bending the rules, of course, is the never-ending quest for more attention.

Hopefully site owners will think more about the pollution they’re causing. Badly behaved videos and ads do not endear them to the customers they wish to attract.

Call me idealistic, but I suspect that most people look forward to visiting their favorite websites — not doing battle with them.

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  • Patrick

    Thank you!

    I hate the mouse rollovers. I hate the autoplay videos. I hate the moving gifs. I hate the unstoppable ads.

    What I hate is the removal of control combined with the deliberate annoyance-to-get-my-attention. I’ve killed several tabs once I click to a site that has these features. I’ve loaded up on AdBlock and Click-to-Flash to cut down on these annoyances.

    I’m OK with ads. Hulu did it right – a show would have four or five one minute unskippable ads, I had no problem with that.

  • Riz

    We need an app that manages what application can access to the OS sound driver and at what volume level. An OS that has an application sound mixer.

    We need to dim the volume of the browser but allow full volume to iTunes.

  • Greghead
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