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Up and Coming Pet Peeve

April 25th, 2015

What’s annoying? Web sites that constantly reload, especially when the reset sends you way back up to the top of the page, even more so when what you were just about to look at is now gone and replaced with something you don’t want.

Fox News is one of the oddest that I have noticed. Not that I visit it often, but sometimes I want to see what conservatives consider to be newsworthy and what their general take is, and sometimes, I want to see how they are treating a certain story that’s in the news. (Today: Hillary may face criminal inquiry! City near Ferguson elects black mayor by voter fraud! Obama-released Bergdahl is a traitor!)

The annoyance: Fox’s site refreshes (somewhat randomly), usually very soon after a page loads, or after you return to a tab with a Fox page open in it. It’s a minor annoyance in this case, a blip in the page’s appearance, like an extended page load. It gets in your way, though.

Nor is it a quirk limited to one ideology or the other; Salon does the same thing, though differently: every five minutes, you get reloads. I’ll be perusing some stories, and while deep down on the page, it will reset, and pop!—I’m back at the top, and have to find my place again.

For me, these reloads did not really make any sense; after the reloads, the content all looks the same. Then I realized that I have ad blocking on the browsers I usually use, so I loaded up Salon on Opera, which I do not use blocking for (handy for sites where comments and other features don’t work if you use blocking and filtering), and waited for a refresh. Sure enough: all the ads had changed. These sites force the reloads so they can throw more advertising at you. Just when you thought they had no more ways to annoy you.

Which makes Fox’s reloads a bit more amusing: I notice that they sometimes reload just 5-10 seconds after you load a page. Which means that they likely know that average page views are short, and want to make sure they get to double their ad exposure even for people who visit for a quick peep at something.

Facebook is the worst offender among sites I visit. A big part of this has to do with their strategy to keep visitors returning so they can make the experience more addictive and sell more ads. Facebook will not show you all of what your friends post; instead, every time you visit the site anew—or reload—they will rotate content in and out. They also apparently juggle the order so that you do not recognize patterns of posts, therefore making it feel like there is unseen content still there.

This annoys people enough as it is; however, every once in a while, the page will auto-refresh, meaning that the content you were not finished with is now half-jumbled and half-yanked. The stuff you meant to look at may never even appear again at all.

Yes, I know: sites have to pay for themselves. The problem is, they do so in ever-more pervasive and annoying ways.

I have long said that all they have to do to get my ad views is to have ads which do not move. Remove other annoyances like the refreshes and content juggling, and I’ll be even more loyal.

Hell, I’ll even help you: add a feature where you allow people to request ad types or content. I not only respond better to ads for movies and electronic gadgets, I like them more. If most ads were for those things, I’d probably click more often, and I’d have no problem with ad agencies knowing that if it meant the experience were better. People hate ads because something like 97% of them are for things they don’t want or are repulsed by. Change that, and the ads will be more effective and more valuable.

It is very similar to music sales: be grabby, greedy, and gratuitous, and people will gravitate to methods that exclude your asinine sales model. Give customers what they want and how they want it, and your business will do better.

Why the hell can’t they figure this out?

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