Generally I try to keep this blog on topic, or it easily descends into a “woe is me” chaos. But occasionally I need to rant, and particularly after researching website stuff (how to move an entire website and all those fun fiddly things) I really need to get it out. There are some things I absolutely loathe online, and some that I just generally dislike. The funny (read: enfuriating) thing is that many of these things are done by those who teach other people how to make good blogs and websites… So to everyone out there making author websites or writing blogs or whatnot – please don’t do these things?
1. “Subscribe to me!!111!” popup boxes
Here’s a tip: Popups aren’t any less annoying when they appear in the same window, or contain an e-mail subscription box instead of ads for dubious pills or even more dubious dating sites. As far as I understand getting as many people on your mailing list as possible is a thing. I’ve seen people recommend using these popups even if they dislike those abominations themselves. Because, well, subscribers. Why??? (You even made me bring out the extra question marks!)
Subscription popups make me seethe with internal rage every time I come across them, and it’s actually not an exaggeration. Throw a huge subscription box at my face and prevent me from seeing the content I came there for, and I will click the tiny, hardly visible X, and then I will click that slightly more visible X in my browser, not seeing any of the content you’ve worked so hard to make. I don’t like being nagged, and I have only ever continued to read a blog that had those once. No, that’s not an exaggeration either, and I only did it because the content was so fantastically useful to me. It’s not like subscribing will make the popups stop appearing either! They just come back over and over and over and over again until you feel like gouging your eyes out with a spoon.
Told you it was a grumpy post.
What happened to having a visible but relatively unobtrusive subscription box in your sidebar, so that people can subscribe without being forced to or nagged every time they visit, and focusing on writing content that people will want to read? Everyone has at least one needy friend who constantly needs to validate your friendship. Is that the person you prefer to spend time with? Nope. Nothing makes me more annoyed than being disturbed in my reading by a jiggly, brightly coloured box that obscures the whole text. Seriously, I would not be surprised if they started playing music soon.
Which brings us over to my next hate object:
2. Websites with auto-playing music or ads
Oh no, the travesty.
Honestly most websites I visit are not stuck in the nineties/early 2000s and know that websites with music that play automatically are annoying. But apparently not all. As someone who almost always listens to music while browsing, it is really annoying to have your favourite song interrupted by some bad tune with bad quality playing at top volume.
In reality most of these are auto-playing ads. It does not make things better at all. As I often listen to music, I have sometimes had a moment of paranoia when trying to figure out where the talking comes from. Is someone outside my window? Has someone walked into my apartment (even though the door is always locked)? Has it become haunted? Am I hearing voices?
In fact yes, it usually turns out that I am hearing voices. The voices of annoying salesmen in even more annoying ads, as it turns out after a bit of digging. Very fun if you have gone through your bookmarks and have open perhaps twenty tabs. (Which little, easily ignored ad box in one of these thirty tabs that I am reluctant to close is the one that is playing, and how can I make it shut up? Can I really do it in time before I throw the monitor out the window of sheer annoyance?)
I guess it should be a lesson that having twenty tabs open simultaneously is a bad idea. But sometimes you need it. Research, people, research! (And news about the latest k-pop scandal *ehem*)
3. it’s a seeecret
You promised to teach me to do <thing>, damnit! And only now, when I’ve read past countless reviews and you telling me how fantastic this thing is, you say that I can’t learn it unless I pay you or subscribe to you or something like that? Ugh, no thanks. I’ve just spent ten minutes or more reading all about why I should learn it, the benefits of learning it, who else is learning it, what people say about learning it, the history of teaching this thing, shameless praise of yourself disguised as objective facts, and so much rubbish fluff writing that my brain feels like dying. You think I want to give you money in addition to that? Yeah, I get it, you are selling a thing (or the knowledge of how to do a thing) and you want to make sure that people think they need it and that people want to buy. But could you do it in less words?
The same goes for blog posts or websites that go on forever before they even get close to the point. Seriously, why should I care? I don’t want to know why, I want to know what.
Tiny little tip: Personally I subscribe to other people because I like their content (shock!) and would hate to miss any. Not because I want free gifts, or something the non-subscribers cannot get. If you write good content, I will subscribe. If you try to bribe or confuse me into subscribing? Nooooo. I refuse to believe I’m the only one who thinks like this.
Seriously, some of those blogs feel like telemarketers in blog form.
4. You have to promote yourself!
This one is partially inspired by this blog entry on the blog whimsydark. It writes about the particular kind of “shouty” promotion, where authors promote and promote and promote online, trying desperately to build a fanbase and a social media platform, and it doesn’t help. Because they come off as desperate and annoying, and the potential reader still has no valid reason why they should read the person’s book.
The same problem goes for some art blogs and photo blogs and whatnot. Yes, I’ve bought the books of people because of their social media presence (though I hate that expression). But do you know what? None of them shoved their books down my throat, none of them talked relentlessly about why I should like their book, none of them kept trying to sell things to me. Informing me about their books or art and where I can buy them? Fine, absolutely fine. Constantly shoving this information in my face whenever I even consider visiting their website or blog or twitter or facebook site? Oh hell no. (So what did these authors whose books I bought do right? Well, they were generally awesome people. They gave advice, for free, they talked about their interests and their writing process and their life and their pets and their pet peeves and whatnot, and while they also talked about their books, they were real people. Don’t be pushy cardboard cutouts, people. Be a real and non-annoying person.)
The bottom line is this: I want to decide for myself whether or not I will buy something, or what I like. You wrote/made/invented the thing, of course you like it. You have no way of knowing if I will like it, so stop pushing. Yes, I will buy your book, thank you for telling me about it. IF it looks like a book I would like. But not if you keep shoving it in my face. That’s in fact the best way to ensure that I will neither by that book nor future books by you. Petty? Perhaps.
Here are some short guidelines to stop being intensely annoying online:
- Don’t nag me more than my mother does. Seriously.
- Don’t be pushy. Let me decide for myself whether or not I like your book/website/whatever the heck you sell.
- Don’t interfere with my browsing experience. Don’t make me hunt for a tiny little ad with plenty of sound. Don’t throw huge popups in my face that prevent me from seeing the content I came for. Don’t make me waste my precious time hunting for a tiny, little, near-invisible X to read your article.
- Don’t be a tease. If you promise to teach me about doing X or Y, then do it, instead of throwing a “oh wait, haha, you have to pay for it” at me aaaaall the way at the bottom of a far-too-long page. Especially after forcing me to read all those empty fluff sentences.
- Don’t be desperate. Nobody likes to buy stuff/spend time on stuff/read stuff out of pity. Show me why I will like it. No, no, don’t tell me, show me. I’m not a difficult person, except if people try to guilt trip me into something. Then you’ll see difficult.
- Don’t follow advice blindly. Even mine. If someone tells you that you need to have subscription popups, but you actually hate them, why would you still have them? It genuinely baffles me.
Ah, it feels good to vent, even if the people who need to see these italics-riddled complaints probably never will. Do you have something to add to the list?