What's Your Biggest Internet Annoyance?

by Preston Gralla

To use the Internet is to be annoyed. Annoyed about spyware, pop ups, and spam. Annoyed at security holes in Internet Explorer big enough to drive a truck through. Annoyed at clueless ISPs, cable modems that won't work, hot spots that aren't so hot, and search sites that inundate you with ads instead of search results. Annoyed at...well, you get the picture. There's a whole lot to be annoyed about.

I got so annoyed at all this and more a while back that I decided it was time to write a book about it. The resulting tome, Internet Annoyances, just came out.

To celebrate its publication, I'm taking a very public poll. So tell me, what's your worst Internet annoyance? No annoyance is too small or too big to mention, so talk back to me and let me know. Who knows, the annoyance might end up in the next version of the book.

What's the worst Internet Annoyance of all time? Come on, tell us and get it off your chest.


2005-02-02 10:41:00
A couple of things

  1. Flash intros. These get in the way of finding information quickly, and are especially annoying to the repeat visitors most sites would like to retain.

  2. Frames. They make bookmarking difficult and sometimes screw up the forward/back behavior

  3. Sites that screw up if you dare to use the back/forward buttons in your browser

  4. Sites that require you to use Internet Explorer for no discernible reason. Banking sites have been notorious for this, ironic when you consider IE's security problems.

  5. Log-on pages that force you to hit 'back' after entering the wrong information. The page should inform you of the error, and allow you to re-enter your information (possibly filling in the username for you) on the same page as the error message.

  6. Browser password managers. The things are great, but one problem I have is that I forget the username and password for a site--that's why I want the password manager to begin with! So after I submit a login form, and they ask me if I want to save the username and password, my thought is often, "I don't know yet!" I won't know until I've submitted the form and see whether or not I entered the correct info. The browser should ask after the page is submitted. If the next page has a username/password entry, the browser can assume this was not a valid logon, and not ask to save it. Or, go ahead and ask, but the user can now accurately decide based on what's now shown in the browser window.

  7. Sites that offer a tiny area for entering comments and don't allow you to preview (-:

2005-02-02 11:27:34
put open source to the test
I use Mozilla 1.6 and my number one annoyance is that many sites are displayed with a font that requires a microscope. I am forced to live by 'View/Text Zoom', but tell me the solution is 'UPGRADE' and I will be satisfied. I love Firefox, so don't hold back.
2005-02-02 12:43:27
Today's Internet Annoyances
Well, there's new one every day.

I'll second the flash intros comment

Catalog sites that only show one item per page, especially if they use Flash so I can't ctrl-click a new page into a tab (Firefox)

Lastly, Google's gone all geo on me. I used to get different results a google.co.uk depending on whether I searched the web or UK sites. Now I get UK oriented stuff either way. I don't give a damn about the ads but geo-orienting the search results is pishing me off.

2005-02-03 00:58:05
a shortlist :)
in no particular order...

1) inappropriate use of animation.
This is closely linked to:
2) Flash. As others have already said people seem to use Flash for everything these days, often in ways that are completely inappropriate. If it weren't for the few places that do use it for a real purpose (and not to annoy people) I'd disable it completely.
3) Spam and related crap email
4) People thinking that Microsoft is inherently evil and that everything would be perfect if everyone would just use other products (and yes, that seems to include you).

I've not had encounters with virus, spyware and co. since getting an internet account back in 1998, probably because I don't download "free" programs downloaded after clicking on some adbanner and don't use pirated stuff and P2P networks.
In my experience helping others those are the vast majority of sources of infection, infections which are completely unrelated to the OS or browser used (if more people would use other OSs or browsers the malware authors would just target those, the problem here is end user behaviour and greed, not the OS or browser they're using).

2005-02-03 03:39:19
Mozilla has had a minimum font size option for a while. I'm pretty sure its in 1.6, but I'd upgrade anyway. Set it and the fonts will never be smaller then what you set. (Unless the fonts are really pictures of text).
2005-02-03 08:10:55
Wireless conflict
I hate when my laptop picks up a neighbor's wireless connection before grabbing my own. This happens both when I'm first starting up and also while I'm on the internet - I assume after my signal has degraded temporarily. I've tried to "blacklist" these connections so this doesn't keep happening, but I can't ever seem to get rid of them. I know there is a way to fix this, but none of my 5-minute forays into Windows networking options has done the trick so far.
2005-02-03 08:37:05
Wireless conflict
Which version of Windows are you using? Here at the college I work at, we refer to WinXP as a "wireless slut". Once we upgraded some of our machines to SP2, it became much more intelligent. My laptop doesn't associate to other networks first anymore. There is a setting to tell it not to automatically associate to unpreferred networks, but it doesn't always work prior to SP2 (and may still not work, for all I know.)
2005-02-03 12:32:02
test passed
Thanks so much. I never noticed this option before, but I knew there had to be a solution. As usual, the OS process is ahead.
2005-02-04 02:30:35
spam links in google
The main culprits are the catalog sites that appear whenever you mention a product name, despite having nothing useful whatsoever to add; technical q & a sites that only do the 'q' part (tek-tips.com, experts-exchange.com, junlu.com)

junlu's an odd one. I can't figure out what its about. Its mostly an archive of open source mailing lists, but without any useful way to navigate the lists like you get everywhere else; but for some reason google ranks it higher than the same messages appearing on other, more direct, archive sites. I wouldn't mind the adverts on the site so much if there was a 'next in thread' button.

2005-02-04 10:18:52
SPAM Blocking POP Servers
I use Mozilla 1.7 for browsing and mail, and I am *very* happy with its SPAM handling.

Recently, mail.com, my POP3 mail provider, has started blocking spam too, and you don't have a choice about it.

The worst thing is that you don't have control over what they deem as spam, and you have no way to check if a message that you were expecting ended up in the spam filter. You just don't receive it.

Damn it, I want to receive all my mail, and I don't want anyone but me deciding what to block!!

2005-02-04 11:50:28
Page Title Spam
I am really tired of subversive page title spamming morons from sites like
ASPAlliance.com (and O'Reilly) whose page titles are either not present or are stuffed with
spam preventing or hindereing the page from being saved as a Favorite when
using IE or other browsers.

Selecting Favorites from the IE toolbar to open the Favorites Explorer Bar
(renamed yet once again as a 'task pane') will not allow Favorites to be
saved when the page title is stuffed with spam making the length of the page
title too long to be saved from the toolbar. Editing out all of the spam and
reformatting the page title is a serious waste of time. Spamming page titles
results in Favorites that can not be read when wanting to recall a Favorite
because the Windows user interface does not support resizable dialogs. This
seems to be true when using other browsers as well.

Subversive Page Title Spamming:
ASPAlliance.com The #1 ASP.NET Community CodeSnip Refreshing a Parent Page
from a Popup Page in VB.NET

Professional and Considerate Implementation:
Refreshing a Parent Page from a Popup Page in VB.NET - ASPAlliance.com

** There is no reason to spam page titles with crap such as 'The #1 ASP.NET
Community' or 'CodeSnip' or anything else that is not specific to the page
itself and does nothing with regard to SEO..

** The identity of the hosting site should 'follow' the page title, not
'preceed' it to enable the Favorite to be read when wanting to recall.
Because IE and other browsers restrict the width of their 'task panes' and
dialogs which often can not be resized all we can read when recalling a
Favorite is the page title spam. I contend it is more important to make the
actual page title available than the name of the website and useless spam
where the article resides. Hello you selfish moronic spamming pigs?

** I'd even like to propose for discussion a standardized 'well-formed' page
title schema for software development articles:

[language] page title (resource)
[VB] Refreshing a Parent Page from a Popup Page (ASPAlliance.com)

Noting that such a proposed page title schema is a compromise that still
impacts the use of restrictive task panes and dialogs by requireing a prefix
of four or five characters that take up space but at least provides valuable
meaning rather than page title spam.

I mean this really gets to me and I know my own implementations have not
been as ideal as I am now striving to achieve. We live and learn do we not?
Most of us work really hard to learn to be as good as we can and care about
those using what we produce but others are simply greedy moronic spamming
pigs that will do anything to break and hinder usage to make sure they stick
their name in your face and will not change or even respond to e-mail asking
for such change. There is no need for this as it only breeds discontent.

I have been sending a 'nice' message to several sites including
ASPAlliance.com and have been ignored. Now I am of the mind to simply say
to he!! with them as they are no different than any other spammers.

2005-02-07 10:45:27
Browser Compatibility Warnings
I have lots that I could rant about, but the most rediculous is the message telling me I need to upgrade my browser ... to IE6 or Mozilla 4.7.

I'm using firefox and it appears some sites still haven't updated their pages to recognize it's UserAgent.

Then they refuse to let me into their site.


2005-02-08 13:48:36
A couple of things
Point on "Browser password managers"... The worst, absolute worst browser for this Opera. It stores the username and password for the _page_, as opposed to the site. Therefore, if you access the site via a different page, you have to reenter the info. Or if you usually go to /login/ and then you go to /login/index.html you have to reenter the info... and the button seems to not work, at least anytime i've tried it...