Timely video about "dark patterns," the tricks websites use to manipulate you

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/29/timely-video-about-dark-patt.html


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Also, I don’t think you can kill a BBS account easily. This is common with software designed to manage user-generated content – software engineers will reasonably prioritize the health and efficiency of databases and worry about UX later. But to the user it looks and feels very dark patternish and is an (infrequent) source of angry support requests.


It really shouldn’t be that hard. At worse you can just clear out the fields and leave it “empty”, save for a UID and a flag that says the account was deleted. Technically the data would still live in the database for some time (depending on the underlying datastore), but it would be inaccessible except with a hex editor. More importantly it won’t be available to the other tools you develop later, or to hackers that break into the system unless they’re super dedicated about extracting deleted records.

If you’re slightly more paranoid you could overwrite the fields with random data before zeroing them out.


There’s also the forward facing issue of how much do you want to allow departing users to erase. There is an argument to be had for not making it easy to remove your presence. At least not without a moderator’s oversight.

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I tend to lean towards the “the Web has lost too much anonymity already” side myself and let people erase their accounts if they want.

Of course this can be a problem if someone creates an account, posts a direct threat to the President, and then deletes their account, but honestly in cases like that you probably weren’t getting much of anything useful out of the account details anyway.

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I think I agree but I tend to lean towards having their posts live on under a “deleted account” username.

Deleting the posts is always tricky because people will have responded to them and possibly quoted them, and not in full. Some users will have done a poor job of quoting or straight up edited the originals too (Fixed That For You). They may even mention the user by their username in a reply. That level of deletion is basically impossible to achieve.

“Face miles of trials with smiles, it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave, and go on thinking free.”
Moody Blues - In the Beginning


I notice that LinkedIn doesn’t give you an option to ignore or decline a connection request. There’s only the accept button. Even if you choose to ignore they will still continue to send messages every once in a while.

Evil lurks everywhere, on the interwebs.

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There’s none in the notification email but if you go into the section on the website the button is there, (I use it frequently!)

i think kottke beat you to that one by like 10 minutes.

“It’s not the fault of the designers. They’re just doing what they’re tasked to do, knowing full well that if they don’t others will.”

Huh. I think that let’s designers off rather easy.


Yeah. The unfortunate truth (in our present society, anyway) is that there’s really only one way to go with something that is as fundamentally free, open, and democratic as the web: rush head long toward strictures, rules, subterfuge, and just plain idiotic tactics to delay, suspend and retain.

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cheers, I will use it frequently too.

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So THAT’S how Trump got elected!


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So, what happens to the (Post deleted by author etc etc) posts that disappear from the thread?

I think “deleted by author” stays in the database for 24 hours (not actually deleted) and are then replaced by a token entry (actually deleted).

Mod-deleted: there are various options for dealing with unwanted posts. Just deleting them has the same result, I think, but moderation tools encourage what I assume is an archived-deletion that means they stay on record as mod activity.

BBS is a fairly vanilla Discourse setup so the defaults very likely reflect what we do.

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