Why the web is a mess

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/30/why-the-web-is-a-mess.html


My website had cookies, I 'm not sure if they are still there.

But it’s actually a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, because I made alot, and as a joke about website cookies.

Until 2012 my main browser was text only. So I missed a lot of tge worst.High speed internet made a graphic browser more viable,but that’s offset by so much extraneous stuff. It may be the tablet’s browser, but too often loading a page is like playing ping pong, I click a link but the page hasn’t settled so I end up on the wrong page, and I have to repeat, sometimes a few times. It’s awful.


Advertisers ruin everything. The Bill Hicks bit on them is a little too harsh and triggering to post here, but he wasn’t far off. They just can’t break their habit of appealing to the most stupid and ignorant 10% of the population while insulting the rest of us (and their clients) in the process.

A lot of it comes down to laziness in the industry. The technology gave them the opportunity to really target audience members with context- and user-sensitive ads about stuff they’d be genuinely interested in buying. Instead it’s mostly blunt-force spam, ads for stuff you just bought or don’t need, bait-and-switch advertorials, and pitches for woo.

They really laid the foundation for the engagement-driven social media business model that’s undermined liberal democracy and made the world a worse place on balance.


I experience this constantly as well, because most of my browsing is on an old iPad. BoingBoing is sadly among the worst offenders here. The culprit seems to be (in general) banner ads, which are bad about correctly declaring their dimensions in CSS, and this change size a couple of times as they download their javascripted sub-content. A strategy that helps is mashing the stop button as soon as a site appears because all the ads and other obnoxious stuff load after the text and basic images. It’s the only way I can read BB on my iPad.


Good times. If only turning images off today wouldn’t kill navigation in most sites, I’d try it again.


Useful saying I heard: “The problems tend to go where the people are.”


If only the price for consumer information were more dear, like a smack upside the head or a shock to the penis for every successful cookie placement. I’d be onboard with that. /s


Tom Scott is mixing several problem spaces.

Yes, Advertising is out of control. I should be able to easily report misleading Ads. Ads should have to pass a some sort of review. I have high confidence that any Ad for a Business opportunity is a scam.

Social Media’s broken for a variety of reasons. My observation is fully anonymous places are full of shity people. The easier it is for people to evade an account ban by create new accounts, the closer those places get to fully anonymous ones.

This leads me to think maybe we shouldn’t have outsourced identity. Maybe that should be a function of governance. Or at least Social Media is very bad at account / pseudo anonymous identity management. The only path to monetizing that service is a privacy nightmare. This makes sense as a government service.

This idea has many technical challenges and privacy ones. Maybe the entity that manages the authentication service, isn’t the one that can pierce the pseudo anonymous identity to the real world account holder?

It’s clear to me that web forums are only as good as the moderation team is. Also that moderation does not scale. A person must review moderation decisions, not all of it can be automated away.


My day job involves a lot of direct dealing with banner advertising in mobile games, both on the technical and business side. I can say that the mess we have is because the incentives all up and down the entire online ad ecology are deeply perverse. The people producing the content are six layers away from being accountable for performance or quality of said content, and the people trying to sort out the quality and make it perform have no input into the content. Furthermore, human nature being what it is, the “worst” ads on all these metrics of quality and performance tend to perform the best financially. Here again, though, the incentives in the pipeline are all wrong. The company producing the content sees the higher cut from higher performing ads, whereas the placement company and the vertical integrator are both operating on a fixed rate. It’s complex and not explainable in a single BBS post, but suffice it to say there are about a dozen companies in the chain from the person who draws artwork for an ad to the engineer who puts it in code that lands it on a site or in a game. Nobody in that chain has the right incentive to produce a good experience for the user, so here we are.


If you’re on an iPad, I recommend installing 1Blocker. The free version blocls ads in Safari pretty well.

Unfortunately for the apple users, there aren’t many good free tools available for you to protect your privacy and prevent ads.

There are however a lot of free tools for android and windows.

If you run android I can’t recommend Blokada enough. You may have to side load it, but it doesn’t require any root permissions and Blokada will block ads even in games and apps.


I can’t believe you don’t see the irony in this article when boingboing itself is littered with horrible click bait ads and ux ruining frames. It’s gotten so bad over the years I wonder if this is even a legit site anymore. Been coming here a lot less because of the ads and overall spammy appearance.


Privacy Badger cleans it up pretty nicely. Cory recommended it, back when he was here.


The site design or how you present ads on boingboing needs a little help… On mobile the site is not usable in a lot of cases… The worst is the collapsing border thing you added??? Having 5 or 6 ads pop up when you hit the site makes it extremely hard to use the site.

Also some of the stories presented as stories are plain click bait . . … :confused:


oh yeah, i love that series:


But they make the massive bulk of the Internet free. That’s an offer hard to refuse

1 Like

Do you mean browsing the internet? Last I checked, almost everybody still pays for the utility. And browsing really ought to be free, by standards of fairness. People do not owe corporations even one byte of data just to window shop or listen to public speech.


Oh, the ‘person’ who gets all upset if I don’t run every script on a page, that’s almost always not dysfunctional! Also that which wants to run people’s bad photos from the '80s as voyeurism; same vat. News exclusives.

Did we not get A/B ranking on advertisers who were remedying incentives as a service to sites? Even people who want to prefer text ads as a bandwidth saving thing? …Spiders well acclimated to crack?

Also, why doesn’t Tom Scott have a fantastic tan from laying out in some vertical farm? Can I really blame the Big 2% (Milk) Industry?

Also why am I not running something 40x as trippy as Vivaldi (or Vivaldi since…July) that works in AR/VR? I have to buy a phone that’s clear in the middle first or get on the development train for CaspAR…er…Jerri Ellis’ thing? If rotten minds are on the web, there should at least be javascript-is-strings theory going to dry-age foods.


I understand it as a revenue source for free content sites like this one. It just annoys me that the on-line ad industry has been so sloppy and lazy that sites like BoingBoing are basically stuck with that shoddy and toxic business ecosystem as what amounts to the default choice. Even worse are the social media platforms that gleefully embrace it, with all the horrible externalities we’ve seen.

Really, I’d pay a membership subscription for ad-free access to certain sites I use every day. I’d also be glad to support those sites by buying products and services recommended by the people I trust who run or write content for those sites.


I see this “cost of doing business” as a trade-off from the brick-and-mortar store (or newspapers owning distribution and racks). Even renting or owning your own servers doesn’t match that cost, and should be factored into product price instead of that cost being used as a gatekeeping device?
Sure, take my 50 cents, or whatever subscription price, but hands off my personal info and tracking.