This is intending to be a quick post, so I hope I can keep it as such.
There are a few things online that are really starting to get under my skin. Thankfully, the problems can all be solved by an opt-out approach, one way or another, with of course the most dramatic staying offline. I thought I’d share my thoughts, as it seems others are following suit as well. Could this be the end of an old era, and the beginning of a new?
- Email: Believe it or not, this is annoyance numero uno, and I think the problem doesn’t come from spam, but unwanted email nontheless. In my Gmail account, I probably receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 spam messages a day, all which Google does a good job sending to my junk folder. However, I still get unwanted email from services I’ve done business with in the past, such as eBay, Amazon and 1800FLOWERS. While I don’t regard these messages as spam, I don’t like them, or spend the time reading them. It seems to be quite the fad to auto-subscribe you to mailing lists when you do business with an online company. Even though I have Gmail automatically label this mail as Junk, mark it as read and archive it, it’s still annoying. Looking over my mail, I would dare say that less that 1% of the mail I receive, I’m actually interested in. Yet, other services like SMS, Microblogging, IRC and IM I’m much more inclined to read, for a couple of reasons. First, the interaction behaves much the same way email does, except with Microblogging and IM, I specifically opt-in to people that I want to follow or have a conversation with. This whitelisting, effectively and totally eliminates spam, and even further unwanted data. I probably read 90% of this data, and I’m more likely to read it first before my email. With SMS and IRC, while still subject to spam abuse, IRC has been around longer than email, yet spam isn’t a problem at all in the channels I frequent. Many channels are even an invite-only status, providing a strict whitelist to the participants. I can opt-out of SMS through my cell phone provider if spam SMS becomes an issue, even notifying those sending me the SMS that I am no longer receiving them.
- Truncated feeds: Truncated RSS feeds are just flat out annoying. Imagine me publishing the first 1% of my photo, and requiring you to click further to see the rest of it. Maybe I just give you the first 30 seconds of my podcast, but the rest can be found by visiting the site. This is just silly. First off, the whole point of RSS is so I can read your content without going to your site. I want a single point for my news, not several. Further, if I’m willing to share the data in the first place, it just makes sense to me to share the data in its entirety. Your content has to be exceptional for me to subscribe to a truncated feed, otherwise I don’t bother. The only truncated feed that I subscribe to intentionally is LWN.net, due to the fact they require a paid subscription to view the content. Yes, it’s that good.
- Ads: I’ve grown tired of ads, and it’s not really the ad itself, as much as the abuse of ad space on websites. I don’t want to read the wrapping text around your ad. I don’t want to scroll half a page to reach your content. I don’t want your ad distracting me from my reason for visiting in the first place. Your ad should be well placed, and out of the way. Putting the ad “above the fold” makes the most logical and monetary sense, but many web admins seemed to have interpreted this as “fill the entire top half with ads, make them large, make them flash, make them animated and make the user scroll for the content”. Additionally, posts or articles that require several clicks to navigate the post, just so you can maximize your ad exposure, chap my hide. I usually look for the “Print preview” link, which will publish the content, usually sans-ads. If one such link doesn’t exist, I won’t continue out of principle. So, over the years, ads on the web have brought me to keep an aggressive ad blocker installed in my browser. You might not like that as a site owner, as the vast majority of your income is coming from the ads. I’m sorry. I hope you can find another avenue for making money. I just won’t do it.
- Voicemail: I’ve grown tired of voicemail. The reason is simple- it sucks retrieving it all the time. Why? Dial the number to access it, then enter your password or PIN, then navigate an automated menu to listen, fast forward and delete or save the message. Such a pain. It’s not uncommon for me to leave 5 or 6 new voicemails in the queue before I bother clearing them out, but by the time I do, I’ve already discussed with you the reason for your voicemail, so it promptly gets deleted. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t leave voicemails any longer. Everyone I call has caller ID, and they’ll notice my call. If they want to speak with me, they’ll call me back. If they don’t notice my call, or if I want to speak with them, I’ll call them back. The same is true from me. When I see missed calls on my phone, I’ll call the number back usually, even if it’s from numbers I don’t recognize. I don’t need to spend 3-5 minutes listening to a voicemail, when I could call them directly, and speak to them just a quickly. I must say, however, that Vonage makes voicemail less painful, by emailing to the email address in your account an attachment in WAV format of the voicemail. This makes it easy to just pull up the email, click the attachment, and click play. However, Vonage also well tell me who called, so rather than wait for the WAV attachment to download, again I’ll just call back.
I would like to think that these dinosaur technologies are actually going the way of the dinosaur. Looking at many of the social media applications online, such as Facebook, Identi.ca, Jabber, Freenode, and others, I see no reason really to hold on or pay attention to email. Sure, there are communities on mailing lists, but there are also communities on Facebook and the other technologies with just as active posts. I could entirely eliminate email, and not even miss it. I could turn off voicemail, and still get a hold of the people that need me and the reasons they called in the first place. I’ve already eliminated ads, and RSS is opt-in, so I don’t need to subscribe to truncated feeds, or click through for content.
Just some thoughts about what is really starting to annoy me from the world of the Internet. If you’re of the same opinion or not, I would be interested in your reasoning.