50 most annoying things about the internet

Last month we listed 50 things being killed by the internet. Now here's a selection of the trends we wish could be consigned to the waste bin - the most annoying things on the web.

1) 'Worse than the Nazis'
"As an [online] discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." So states Godwin's Law, the observation first made in 1990 that still stands today. Many online communities counter this moronic rhetorical device by ruling that the first person to make a Hitler comparison loses the argument by default. [via telegraph]

2) Lazy activism
Joining a Facebook group is the new going on a march, just substantially less effective. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime did not buckle under the onslaught of green-tinted Twitter avatars.

3) Messages alerting you to messages
Email inboxes are becoming clogged with non-urgent alerts from Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites. How long before someone invents an app to alert Twitter and Facebook users when they receive an email, creating a never-ending spiral of needless messages?

Only the internet asks its users to prove that they are human. CAPTCHAs, the word recognition puzzles designed to prevent robots from accessing protected websites, may be a necessary evil but even their inventor has said that he regrets their drain on human time. Assuming that each one takes ten seconds to solve, it has been estimated that we waste 150,000 hours a day squinting at distorted letters. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that CAPTCHAs are getting harder, with some effectively indecipherable.

5) Social media gurus
Knowing how to tweet should not be a career in itself.

6) The next big thing(s)
Remember Friends Reunited? Friendster? Faceparty? The shelf life of social networking websites seems to be around two years, forcing members to transplant their internet personas just to keep up to speed with their contacts. This would be easier to stomach if it wasn't so tough to differentiate between next big things and white elephants.

7) Blogs
Not blogs themselves, but the negligence anxieties that come with having one. They just take far too much writing.

8) Pop-up adverts
Websites need to make money and static adverts don't bring in enough revenue. But that knowledge doesn't make invasive pop-ups - particularly those that hide their close buttons - any less annoying.

9) The bedroom invasion
First it was in the living room, then the bedroom and now - thanks to wi-fi and laptops - the internet is in your bed.

10) Amazon pigeonholing
Years after purchasing a book about self harm for university research, I still receive emails recommending titles related to suicide and depression. Some straight men with eclectic tastes in fiction have complained that Amazon appears to have convinced itself that they are gay.

11) YouTube speech bubbles
If there's one thing we've learned in the four year history of YouTube, it's that literacy cannot be presumed. So while the "annotations" feature launched last year should allow filmmakers to produce richer videos, in practice it has led to clips being marred by intrusive gibberish. The equivalent of an excitable child forcing his parents to sit through his favourite cartoon: "Dad, did you see that bit? Did you see it? It was funny, huh? Oh Dad, you weren't paying attention."

12) Rickrolling
Hugely over this, now.

13) Everything has been done before
Had an idea? Well someone in San Jose had it last year, got VC-funding and has already launched Beta testing. Presumably this must also have happened before the internet, but in those days you could remain in happy ignorance.

14) Comment pedantry
If the US Constitution had been published online, you can be sure that the first comments would have picked apart the spelling mistakes, and blamed the slapdash attitude of Adams, Jefferson et al for undermining the prospects of the nation. Some commenters seem blinded to the essence of online offerings by their irresistible urge to mark.

15) It's always on
If we all agreed to shut down the internet for a few hours a week - perhaps on Sunday evenings - long-suffering parents and grand-parents might get a few more phone calls.

16) MySpace and Bebo
Far too hard on the eyes. Proof, if it were needed, that graphic design should be considered a profession.

17) Companies wanting us to 'join the conversation'
A direct result of the ascendancy of No 5 is the insufferable chattiness of previously faceless corporations. But a social media presence is no alternative to swift, helpful customer service.

18) Corporate email signatures
Would anyone have assumed that the jottings of a junior account executive reflected the views of an entire multinational company, or that her winking emoticon sign-off was legally binding?

19) Websites that are too wide for the browser
A less common problem these days, as web design and browsers become more sophisticated.

20) Cross-platform conversations
A very modern communication habit and one for which an etiquette has yet to emerge. If you are speaking to the same person over email, Facebook, MSN Messenger and SMS, is it acceptable to "cross the streams" and discuss work topics on Facebook, or continue an email thread on SMS? Very confusing.

21) Domain/username squatters
To the frustrated latecomer, a "squatter" is anyone with their name who registers with a website first. People left to scrape the bottom of the username barrel - Jane_Brown_77@hotmail.co.uk and JohnSmith555@gmail.com, to give two random examples - will testify to the resulting loss of dignity.

22) Viruses, scams and spam

23) Virus and scam alerts
Hardly a morning goes by without reports of new phishing or malware scams popping up in your RSS reader, complete with exhortations to strengthen passwords and update anti-virus protection. While the threats are real and the warnings well meant, it can't be healthy to dwell on attacks that almost certainly didn't affect you. The internet, like life, is best approached with a little derring-do.

24) PDFs
The information could usually have been presented much more accessibly on a web page.

25) Frame bars
The leash used by recommendation websites like Digg to keep hold of logged-in users while showing them external sites. Ugly, clunky, and of little benefit to the user.

26) This website
(When you start to get angry, hold down the "Esc" button to skip to the end)

27) WrItInG In A MiXtUrE Of UpPEr CaSe AnD LoWeR CaSe
It's not useful, attractive or funny. How on earth did it take off?

28) Patently absurd abbreviations
While it's perfectly conceivable that the other person may indeed have LOL'd at your joke, one struggles to picture them ROFLMAOing, given that there was no break in their typing.

29) Comedians on Twitter
Talk about having your illusions crushed. Comedians who join Twitter tend to fall into one of two groups. First, those like Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard who post the same mix of whimsy, opinion and self-promotion as "non-famous" users. While not laugh-a-minute stuff, it's generally sincere and charming. Then there are those who see Twitter as an opportunity to spew forth every half-baked joke idea that enters their heads, providing the strongest argument for the continued need for script editors.

30) Filth, everywhere
A few years ago the actor Jack Nicholson announced that he was disconnecting his computer from the internet. His reason? "There's so much porn out there that I never get out of the house".

31) Websites that don't support a browser's back and forward features
We have become so accustomed to navigating with the two buttons, that it's difficult to manage without them.

32) Hard-to-find login buttons
Some websites are so keen to make themselves appealing to new users that they forget about their existing members, hiding the login buttons in tiny fonts at the extremities of the screen. Only logout buttons are given less prominence.

33) Transport planning websites
Things may be better in other cities, but Transport for London's website is reluctant to let you go anywhere in the capital without taking at least one bus.

34) Compulsory fields on forms
"You did not fill out these required fields: home phone number, mobile phone number." The more hoops companies make people jump through, the less willing they are to hand over their money.

35) National restrictions
There are compelling legal reasons why some online content - such as Olympics footage, which is sold on different terms to many national broadcasters - has to be nation-specific. But in an era of free-flowing information, it comes as a shock to be told that you cannot watch a video because of where you live.

36 Unwitting disclosure of data
Think that you are in control of your online footprint? The chilling website What the Internet knows about you might throw up some surprises.

37) Lists
Fun to read, easy on the eye, and everywhere.

38) The history function on browsers
Surely the cons outweigh the pros?

39) Try-hard websites
People do not come to websites for an experience, they come for information. Anything that gets in their way, like slow-loading Flash graphics or counter-intuitive navigation tools, just makes them angry.

40) Post-1990 bias
Almost every crappy blog post, news story and website published in the last twenty years can be brought up with a quick Google search. But obtaining contemporaneous information from previous decades remains difficult, despite projects to bring newspaper archives, books and records online. The result is an internet that gives undue weight to modern ephemera.

41) Fake viral clips
They wouldn't be annoying if they weren't so effective. Two particularly infuriating examples are the video that purported to show mobile phones popping pop corn, which was subsequently exposed as a stunt by a bluetooth headset retailer Cardo, and another claiming to show an onion charging an iPod.

42) The gradual erosion of your moral boundaries
Tasteless jokes, obscene images and websites devoted to fetishes you've never even heard of are only ever a few clicks away. Even if you never indulge, their taboo is diluted by ease of availability.

43) Buffering
Tick, tock.

44) Memorial websites
As almost every social activity moves online it's to be expected that mourning will take place on the web. Facebook tribute groups are set up within hours of a young person's death, providing an outlet for their friends' grief. But anyone who has stumbled across one of these sites can't help but notice that many of the tributes come from people who have tenuous - or non existent - connections to the deceased. Wouldn't a private message to the family be more appropriate?

45) Hostility to 'newbies'
The most successful online communities are united by narrow shared interests, but the boorish insistence that new arrivals adhere to archaic forum rules is self-defeating.

46) Password stipulations
One site demands eight characters, another a mix of letters and numbers, and a third says that the term you've been using for years is now too weak. The only way to keep track of all the combinations is to note them down, making your accounts even more vulnerable.

47) Auto-run videos
In fact any audio that plays without the explicit consent of the user. Who hasn't scrabbled to shut down a browser window as office colleagues look round for the source of the blaring Barbra Streisand?

48) Get-rich-quick schemes
If the foolproof share picking formula actually worked, why are its inventors hawking CDs and books online for £19.99 a pop rather than sunning themselves in Bermuda?

49) Council websites
Local authorities are starting to put significant effort into improving their websites, but they're starting from a pretty low base. Too many are cluttered and confusing, especially for residents with limited internet expertise.

50) Chris Crocker
He who did this.

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