4 Aggravating Trends on the Internet

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Anyone over the age of 25 remembers the primitive days of dial-up Internet. That screeching modem and those slow connection speeds seem ridiculous compared to the broadband-powered “information superhighway” we enjoy today. But in some ways, the Internet has become bogged down by one aggravating distraction after another. Trolls. Pop-up surveys. Pages full of “clickbait” It’s not bad enough that we long for the dark days of screeching modems, but conditions could be better.

 

4. Paywalls: You Have 0 Free Articles Left This Month

The Washington Post and other major websites have adopted paywalls to sell digital subscriptions. © Washington Post

If you think about it, why should a newspaper/website give away its content for free? After all, grocery stores, gas stations and movie theaters don’t give away their products. One problem: websites have been providing free content since the dawn of the Internet. If bakeries had been giving away free cakes for years, some people might balk at suddenly being asked to pay for cakes. Therein lies the challenge in paywalls, which ask a reader to purchase a digital subscription to read more content. Paywalls have been around in some fashion since the mid-1990s, but a few years ago, they seemed to be a failed revenue model. Yet a number of prominent publications, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, have had success selling digital-only subscriptions. According to Editorandpublisher.com, paywalls are on the rise.

There are some easy ways to circumvent these paywalls on most sites, but a few can be locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Again, most people now take it for granted that websites are supposed to offer free content, and encountering a paywall somehow feels like an intrusion. That’s especially true if the content you’re reading, such as national news story, can be found on another site.

3. Pop-Up Surveys: We Value Your Opinion … Really

Pop-up surveys can ruin the user experience.

Website marketers love these surveys, which can allow them to collect data on their users’ experience. But when these surveys pop up immediately after you land on a site, they are irritating. Even more annoying are the surveys that require users to answer a couple of questions before continuing. Anecdotal evidence suggests most people just randomly click a box or two and continue with their visit.

 

2. Clickbait: ‘She Never Knew Why Crowd Was Cheering’

Clickbait ad links such as this one implying the death of Sylvester Stallone have become more common.

These aggravating links have been around for years, but they seem to have become more prevalent even on respected sites. That means sites have discovered they boost revenue. They also cheapen the user experience. Really, seeing scantily-clad women in provocative poses with risqué taglines may be fun if you’re a young male, not so fun for mom or grandma. Most users have learned to just ignore these links, like so much white noise. So marketers have developed new tactics to entice clicks. The most infuriating is the rise of misleading “tragvertisements” with taglines such as, “We say goodbye to John Smith,” implying that the celebrity has just died.

 

1. Trolls: Anonymity Turns Some People into Idiots

Trolls have been around since the dawn of the Internet, but they’ve moved to social media in recent years. © Bernard Goldbach

These pathetic individuals can be found in the comments sections after stories, posting inflammatory remarks often designed specifically to antagonize other readers. That’s what trolls live for — to provoke and irritate other people. And the Internet’s anonymity gives these idiots the perfect opportunity to say things they’d never say to someone in person. Many sites have tried to combat these trolls by requesting commenters to log in with a name, or even a Facebook account. Many trolls get around this, of course, by using fake names and social media accounts. Others don’t care, and use their real names.

The growing trend among major media sites is to do away with comments sections. Unfortunately, in recent years trolls have found another atmosphere to pollute — Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Trolls have been around since the earliest days of the Internet, and like the proverbial cockroaches that are hardy enough to survive a nuclear holocaust, these creatures appear here to stay.

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