The internet is a wondrous place. You can find almost everything known to mankind and many things that mankind would be better off not knowing. I spend time there now and again, and I’ve noticed that sometimes people get so wrapped up on being part of the internet that they sort of forget how people interact in the real world. It’s easy to get caught up in your own thing, so here is my little reminder to a few small groups of “internet people,” that you need to stop being douchebags. Here is a list of the top five things that internet people and companies need to stop doing. Seriously guys, it’s annoying.
5. Buying Domain Names that are Misspellings of Websites that People Actually Want to go to
Have you ever mistyped the address of a website only to be greeted not by the website that you wanted to visit, but rather by a really bad-looking website with a set of crappy links along the left-hand side and something about “the best solutions at your fingertips” or something like that? Yeah, I’m talking about those. They’re called “Typo-Squatters” and if you misspell a web address, you have a 1 in 14 chance of landing on one of their websites.
Now, I mistype hundreds of words a day and Google usually has my back with spell-check, but every once in a while, I end up on one of these sites and it annoys me to no end. It has no redeeming value, nobody goes there on purpose (except me, to get a screenshot), and it’s just plain sleazy. So stop it.
4. Letting Buzzwords Get in the Way of Meaning
Social media empowers users to utilize the cloud to create crowd-sourced content, creating viral brand equity for us as well as optimized app creation and streamlines the process of consumer awareness of actionable goals and priorities.
Did anything seem…unusual about that last paragraph? Did it not…make sense? Marketers have this funny way of using a whole mouthful of words to say nothing. The internet is monetized by hits and clicks. If you put a million related keywords in your site, Google is more likely to put it at the top of a search containing those keywords, even if it really doesn’t say anything. Part of the problem is that search engines (by necessity of course) are run by computers which search for keywords on websites to categorize and file them away. It’s a lot more complicated than that, with algorithms to get real content to the first page, but that’s the gist of it. And it explains how this system is abused by people who aren’t here to write things people want to read. They’re just here to get a pageview and maybe get you to click one of the million hyperlinked individual words with hover-over advertisements for other awful scamming sites that probably just want to break your computer.
3. Not Writing Like Human Beings
This point goes hand-in hand with the last one: sometimes people try too hard to sound informative in the internet. I saw an article about “social content creation” earlier today and it started like this:
“Creation, consumption and access to content and information has changed so much in the last decade that the landscape is not able to be recognised.”
No, no, no, and NO! The landscape is unrecognizable! Read a book! Learn English! Stop using passive clauses!! When I went to paste that quote, it even came with a linkback to that guy’s site. Like he’s proud of it! So there you go, dude. http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/06/24/7-tips-on-how-to-create-content-for-the-social-web/
Learn to write. My ten year old sister could do better than that. Because she knows how grammar works!
2. Sending Email Reminders for Services I Don’t Use
You know those little sites you sign up for, not really thinking about it? They let you sign in with your Facebook or Google ID or have a super simple sign up page, you use the app or service once and forget about it. Then they start sending you emails.
If I forgot about your app, there’s a good reason for it and I would prefer to keep it forgotten. Either it was redundant with something I already use or have, or I’m not interested, or the app was simply garbage. It happens. As a user, I would prefer to forget about it and as a company, it may be best to just it happen.
The bottom line: sending me email reminders doesn’t necessarily improve your site’s engagement. In fact, it can backfire and just piss your users off.
1. Slideshow articles
This is one of my biggest internet pet peeves. A website decides that it wants more page views (because, remember, the internet is monetized by page views and clicks) for its articles, but doesn’t want to come up with more things to write. The solution? Put each individual point on its own page! That way, the user has to visit ten pages, the website gets more hits, and there’s ten times the ad space to sell! It works out great for everyone. Except the user. It sucks for the user. A slideshow article takes what seems to be at least five times as long as a regular article to read and it you have to go all the way back through all of them to get back to where you came from. More hits. More views. More advertising. And that’s when they don’t hit you with an ad before you even get to the slideshow.
It’s annoying, it’s rude, and it’s inconsiderate. A site will get a better community and audience if they simply give users what they want, the content they came for, with as little hassle as possible. That’s really the crux of this article: internet people can get so caught up in the internet that they forget that they’re trying to connect with another human being. They forget that the internet is to further the knowledge and understanding of the people, not get more hits on your website.
We are people, not pageviews.
Brian Fritz is a graphic designer and illustrator based in East Lansing, MI who would rather read McLuhan and Postman than your latest keyword-diseased blog post (and encourages you to write something worth reading!) He may or may not be talking completely out of his ass, but his heart is in the right place.