Today's word is Dark Patterns

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 5
Author Content

Nov 17, 2013
9:17 PM EDT
Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you
Quoting: Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you

By Harry Brignull

These carefully crafted elements are built to misdirect and confuse

When Apple released iOS 6, one of the few new features not enthusiastically promoted by the company was Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) ad tracking. It assigned each device a unique identifier used to track browsing activity, information advertisers used to target ads. Even though IDFA is anonymous, it's still unsettling to people who worry about privacy.

Fortunately, Apple included a way to disable the feature. You won't find it in the privacy settings, however. Instead, you have to go through a series of obscure options in the general settings menu. Now, "General” is a crappy name for a menu item. It’s mainly a bucket of miscellaneous stuff that they didn’t know what to do with. In the "General" menu, select "About." Down at the bottom of this menu, next to the terms of service and license items, there's a menu item listed as "Advertising."

If you haven't been here before, the only option in the advertising menu, "Limit Ad Tracking" is probably selected "Off."

But let's take a closer look at the way this is worded. It doesn’t say “Ad Tracking – Off” it says “Limit Ad Tracking – Off”. So it’s a double negative. It’s not being limited, so when this switch is off, ad tracking is actually on.

Off means on!

This is actually a great example of what I define as a "dark pattern."

What is a dark pattern?

A dark pattern is a user interface carefully crafted to trick users into doing things they might not otherwise do, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills. Normally when you think of “bad design,” you think of the creator as being sloppy or lazy — but without ill intent. Dark patterns, on the other hand, are not mistakes. They're carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind.

The thing about dark patterns is that you design them from the exact same rulebooks that we use to enhance usability...


Nov 18, 2013
9:47 AM EDT
Why wasn't this submitted as an article?

Nov 18, 2013
2:27 PM EDT
Perhaps it was. I've had a news story take 3-5 days to get posted. Besides, it's hardly news. What they are assigning a new name has been called a con job or a scam for ages. It's suddenly news cuz someone created a new label? I think not.

Nov 18, 2013
3:57 PM EDT
I didn't think the story really fell within the LXer bailiwick, but since I thought that LXers would still appreciate the story anyways, rather than officially submitting a story, I made a post in this forum instead.

Nov 18, 2013
4:17 PM EDT
I see it as fitting very much in the LXer interests.

Interface design, especially deliberately obfuscating such things, is of interest to everyone.

I submit the Google+ "delete my account" screen that has two options, both of which seem to say that it will delete your Gmail account too, and you can't re-open the Gmail account with the same name you had.

Both of them. It's deliberate, to frighten people into not deleting Google+ no matter how repulsive.

Nov 19, 2013
9:58 AM EDT
Google trying to wheedle and/or trick you into joining Google+ if you have a Gmail account and to wheedle you into giving them your phone number if you use the Play Store is really starting to annoy me. If I get sick enough of it, I may stop using Google altogether. Trying to make yourself annoying is not the best way to get what you want from me. I figure it must work for a lot of people, or they wouldn't use that tactic.

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