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Daring Fireball: "Facebook login" (daringfireball.net)
230 points by natemartin 2722 days ago | hide | past | web | 160 comments | favorite

My current primary business is IT consulting, which really means that I spend most of my time working face-to-face with people that have trouble with computers and technology in general.

So, this kind of behavior isn't news to me. In fact, I've tried often to convince the tech-savvy that most users have problems like this, and I've never been all that successful. The RWW "Facebook login" is great from this standpoint, because suddenly a bunch of web programmers have gotten this glimpse of the world outside their bubble, and have collectively gone, "Oh."

Now let's talk about the kind of people these people are. I've noticed a number of comments about their illiteracy, or implying that they must not be paying attention. While there might be a kernel of truth to that, I'd like you to know that most of these are good people, and many of them have accomplished more in their lives than many of the denigrating commenters ever will.

For example, one of my clients is an aesthetician that runs a relatively high-tech place. Her angle comes from surviving cancer, and advocating healthier products for people looking for that kind of stuff. She runs a busy brick-and-mortar shop, bootstrapped it from the ground up, works obscene amounts of hours, has one kid in college abroad in Japan, and another kid finishing high school soon. She's a hell of a woman.

But, she's totally lost on Facebook. Someone told her she should do it, so she is, and we're helping her. She can't manage her email list, and has trouble doing mail merges, so we help her with that too. When a computer puts an error up on the screen, she doesn't read it, analyze it, research it, figure it out; she simply concludes that the computer has had a problem, and she needs help with it.

She's certainly not dumb, but you wouldn't know it by her computer skills.

My weakness is cooking. I'm a reasonably competent programmer, literate, and I can fix cars, etc., but I'm a laughably terrible cook.

More than likely, everyone here has at least one subject which is so alien, so foreign, that they just won't "get" it, no matter how simple it becomes.

...most of these are good people, and many of them have accomplished more in their lives than many of the denigrating commenters ever will.

While true, I'll still be prejudiced against people that leave comments like (#14):

wtf is this bullshttttttttttt all about. can i get n plzzzzzzzzz

and I'll actively argue that many who spell and act this poorly in public are probably at least as much of a detriment to society as they are a boon. Most of those smart-but-not-tech-savvy people can at least communicate properly.

edit: the comment prejudice applies to bashers too. Poor behavior is poor behavior.

While I agree 99% with you, here's a story that happened to me:

I was about the go to a summer school on computer science research and the organizers have set up a mailing list in advance. People generally wrote friendly introductory messages, but there was one guy who seemed totally incoherent. He was like: 'yo gouys, hope too c u soon, i wil com by trein, ll ariv at 7, rlly xcited'. I was about to send a reply and lecture him that writing in this way was disrespectful and annoying, but luckily I was too lazy to do it. When I eventually met him, it turned out that he was completely blind (since birth), managed to go through school in a really unfair school system (mostly with the help of a few good friends) and went to college to study computer science and he uses all sorts of inadequate tools to type and use the computer in general. Turned out he was an extremely intelligent person, able to visualize and solve differential equations in his head that I could not work out on paper, and in all fields he was very knowledgeable and articulate. I wish I could say that after this event I'm more careful in summarily judging people.

Some folks have put together a comment filter that flags any comments that are 'formally' stupid in the same way that #14 is: http://stupidfilter.org/main/

I really like the project's idea, but it's sadly pretty inaccurate from my tests (unless it's progressed significantly since I last saw it). Definitely worth a laugh, though :)

I've found it seems to work fairly well until give it any text with formatting (markdown, bbcode, etc) at it. It seems to throw it's hands in the air and cry stupid.

Thas was a stupid comment :-). Of course the filter probably assumes that its input is text targeted at humans, not code targeted at a markup processor. Code is speech that is deliberately dumbed down so that is is in LALR or LL(n) or so, no wonder that a stupid-filter will trigger on that. Solution: remove the markup, then apply the filter on the content it is designed to analyse.

According to the filter, it wasn't.

Most clueless (but still good people, like the woman in the story above) didn't even leave a comment at all on RWW, probably just left the site completely baffled.

Prejudice (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

Yep, sounds like you are prejudiced.

I did just admit it. Many of the worst-behavers I've encountered act similarly or worse on the internet, and the reverse has been quite accurate for the few I've encountered in that manner. It's certainly prejudice, but that doesn't make it wholly (or even mostly) invalid.

Prejudices have a prejudiced opinion applied to them. That snarling dog? It may not bite you, but it's rational to be prejudiced towards believing it may harm you. Though it may often be wrong, it proves valuable in the long run. The same goes for the person with a knife out, glaring at you, looking drunk. It could be totally harmless, but it may not be. By all means, go into the dark alley with them if you are wholly against prejudice.

Unless, of course, they're never examined. They can be wrong or detrimental just like anything else. But broken down, all rational behavior towards anything alive is effectively prejudice, because you can't have sufficient knowledge to predict it perfectly.

There is nothing good about this at all, this is class warfare and culture warfare all wrapped up together, both very bad and both ripping America, among other places, apart right about....now.

You have absolutely no clue about this person and yet you are prejudiced against him, her, it. Is he/she/it 10 years old? You have no clue. You don't know background, you know nothing except that this person just feels that they got cheated, and they are not experienced enough to know that they are simply on the wrong page.

But hey, it's okay, because you admit it, huh?

You have absolutely no clue about this person

If someone makes a public comment that is illegible [1] or incomprehensible, then I have a pretty good clue about that persons inability to write. Considering how close the ability to write and the ability to think are, you also have a pretty good clue about their ability to think. Of course, this all depends on the assumption the comment wasn't just a troll.

[1] Or can you say that only about handwriting?

>If someone makes a public comment that is illegible [1] or incomprehensible, then I have a pretty good clue about that persons inability to write.

That's simply not true. I've worked with doctors who write emails in "lol this is for u" format, and by merit, they obviously know how to write.

Pretty sure illegible is only applicable to handwriting. It would mean the same as incomprehensible for typed speech, unless you want to start playing around with character set issues. ;)

> [1] Or can you say that only about handwriting?

Although something that is illegible is certainly unreadable, you have hit here on the fact that the converse is false, explaining why we need both words. (I.e.: a piece of writing is illegible if the glyphs that constitute it cannot be discovered; the unfortunate comment you found was made only of recognisable glyphs, so perfectly legible, but unreadable.)

The loss of all social filters is social anarchy. If you're an anarchist, then this likely appeals to you, but I'm not. We certainly have too many social filters, but having none enables malicious people to gain incredible power.

Projections based on limited information are innate to not only humans, but learning in general. Sea cucumbers learn. This easily extends to projections of human behavior based on limited information, but some people view this as universally bad. Evidently, you are one of them. Enjoy your viewpoint.

(a) this a very likely young person that we're talking about

(b) very likely un- or undereducated compared to you

(c) very likely poorer than you, and that's poorer even if you live in a dorm eating ramen and

(d) it's prejudice that I'm commenting on, not your social filters

(e) all the evidence points to that, as I said clearly confused and frustrated person, thinking that they just signed into Facebook and wondering why it appeared to them to not work right. Are you saying that you're a bastion of clarity and even temper when you reach an impediment like that. Sure you don't spell bullshitttttt like that. So what?

[Edit:] (f) It's people protecting their social values with oppression or prejudice who are quite the malicious danger, aren't they? Exhibit A: Fox News. Not so much computer illiterate youths who use a potty mouth

(That is, unless I'm talking to someone who likes oppression too, unlikely but possible, as in, on the Internet, no one knows if you are a dog. ;-)

But the really sad part is that lots and lots of other people are prejudiced, and they think that's a good thing.

Note that I did not bring into this random correlations to other social injustices, but I ask you to consider all those many many many southern god-fearing americans who love them their prejudices, and think god gave them that right. They are protecting their culture with their social filters too.

You do realize that A, B, and C are way more damaging and insulting prejudices than mine, right? I just prefer not to deal with people that act like that, you think they're dumb and poor.

So, first you say I shouldn't be prejudicial against prejudice, and now you say that pointing out that someone is probably poor or probably uneducated, based on evidence, and while arguing against prejudice for those things, is prejudicial?

I just wish that I was being trolled, so that I could have more hope for humankind.

I just wanted to post that I completely agree with you madair. Good for you for posting a comment even though you knew it was probably unpopular and would be mob-downvoted. I think it's a shame that HN makes it seem like your point of view is stupid and that it shouldn't be posted. That's just not true -- you have a very good point, even though it's an unpopular opinion.

HN really needs to cap the downvoting threshold to 0, not -4.

Karma well spent.

The doubled-consonants style is very popular with the 12-16 year old set right now. Congratulations on your prejudice.

Your prejudice is my Bayesian inference.

In any rate, judging someone based on how they communicate is morally very different from judging them based on who they are. Communication is action, and if one cannot form opinions based on the actions of others, then indeed, what may we do? Passively observe the world go by?

Your prejudice is my Bayesian inference.

+1 for a great quote xD

My prejudice against prejudicial people? It's amazing how many people think that is a good argument. Typically prejudiced people.

It a common enough movie-cliche too. I.e., gambler just lost the car saying, "Don't judge me, don't judge me!"

I'm a terrible cook, but if I was baking a cake, and used laundry detergent instead of flour (I mean, they're both white and powdery...) I'd absolutely deserve any comments about my (lack-of) intelligence.

The "News results for facebook login" section on Google is very clearly marked, with, umm, well theres a picture, and a bit of indentation? In this case, I must lay some blame on Google for putting laundry detergent in paper sack with an off-blue stripe rather similar to one flour comes in.

Google could improve the situation by having the news results be in a more clearly marked section, perhaps with a different background color and a solid outline.

This isn't Google's fault. In Firefox, if you type a non-address directly into the address bar, it automagically directs you to the top Google hit for that query.

The real failure here is Mozilla, for releasing a "feature" that, as usual, appeals to computer power users, and royally fucks over computer novices.

It's much, much worse on the GTK version of Firefox -- inspired by the X default of mouse3==paste, on such platforms they make the middlemouse.contentLoadURL config default to true.

This means that if you middle click anywhere in the window that isn't a link, it instantly redirects you to the "I'm feeling lucky" result for the contents of the last text selection you made. I cannot think of a single creepier usability clusterfuck.

Added fun: until a few years ago, http://www.microsoft.com was the first google search result for "http". This meant that malformed links (missing the colon, for instance) almost always pointed directly to Microsoft, on all platforms. It's a bit less baffling than it used to be, as not the wikipedia article on HTTP is the first result.

You've no idea how much I hate that 'feature'

You should try scrolling through large source files with a mouse that has a sensitive click switch on the scroll wheel. The number of times I've found errors due to random stuff pasted into my code because I pressed too hard on the scroll wheel. grrr

Please, please if anyone knows how to disable this, let me know :/

Type about:config in the address bar and accept the consequences. Then find the general:autoscroll property and enable it. Doing this should disable that feature and enable autoscroll as a bonus.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. This behaviour is OS wide, and the place where it bites me continuously is in NetBeans, not FF

OS wide... for what OS? You're really making us work here.

Ubuntu 9.04

I love this feature. I miss it when i have to work on other systems/browsers. Like you say, it's standard.. You might like chrome, it compromised on the feature by only allowing you to paste+go on the new-tab-button.

I think ubuntu "helps" you by disabling this feature by default though.

Did you actually try this? "facebook login" in the address bar takes me to the Google results. It only takes you to the first search result if it calculates you had a high probability of wanting to go there, like typing "yahoo". Occasionally, it does the wrong thing, but not in this case.

I didn't say it was solely Google's fault; you make a good point re:Mozilla/Firefox, but they're both complicit. Google is the one that added the 'feature' to show recent news at the top, instead of just search results, and Mozilla is the one that added the feature you noted.

However, what leads you to conclude they're using the address bar? The default Firefox homepage is a Google search page. You open a Firefox window and start typing and the text will be entered in the main text box on a Google search page.

I'd actually argue that Firefox's awesome bar feature is actually _for_ computer novices. Start typing 'facebook login' and before you even hunt-and-peck your way to the double O it shows a list of Facebook related pages.

Hell, what's got me confused is type in "facebook" into the Firefox address bar and press enter. It goes to http://www.facebook.com. I'm curious then - why add the "login"? (That they should be forcing ssl is a whole 'nother problem.)

I highly doubt that the majority of these users are using Firefox. More likely they are using the default browser available on their operating system.

I thought about that too... but I'm rather sure that 'operating system default browser' is going to be Internet Explorer, and uh, Google's not the default there.

Maybe they type "google" into Live, click the first link, then type "facebook login" into Google.

Google toolbar, maybe?

In this case novices which assume it is the all powerful magic bar which they can type anything into and it will take them where they want to go.

May I assume for sake of argument that by "deserve any comments" and "lack of intelligence" that you're including comments similar to those made by the leets against the facebook confused?

Why is this OK? Why is it OK to laugh at and discriminate against less intelligent people?

What have less intelligent people failed to do, that would have made them more intelligent, that makes them deserve to be looked down on? Is it their fault that they're less intelligent?

How is this different from laughing at people because their skin is a different color, or they speak a different language?

Disclosure: I'm guilty of this. But I've been wondering about this question for a few years now.

"How is this different from laughing at people because their skin is a different color, or they speak a different language?"

There's nothing wrong with discrimination in and of itself. It's actually desirable in a lot of cases. For instance, discriminating based upon competency/intelligence is a good thing. Discrimination only becomes a problem when you're discriminating based upon an |irrelevant| characteristic. (Relevancy is determined by your priorities and/or values.)

"Is it their fault that they're less intelligent?"

Nope, it's not. But that's not the issue. A lot of people think society condemns racial discrimination because race is an attribute outside one's control. That's part of it but not the full story. The real reason it's maligned is because, all other things being equal, race should have nothing to do with an individual's competency or worth as a person. The fact that someone has no influence over their own racial makeup just adds insult to injury when they're judged by it.


I've often wondered the same thing you mentioned about intelligence. Everybody is born with their potential; how can you laugh at a part of somebody that they can't control? But life would be rather joyless if you couldn't occasionally celebrate favorable comparisons between yourself and the rest of the world. :)

Relevancy is determined by your priorities and/or values.

Which, unless I am misinterpreting the preceding sentence, means that essentially discrimination is never a problem. I think part of the problem is defining "a problem for whom."

Fortunately, society (theoretically) compels people to adopt certain values.

Which, unless I am misinterpreting the preceding sentence, means that essentially discrimination is never a problem.

What I meant is, there are some attributes that would be acceptable to consider in one context but not in another. For instance, if you were hiring a prison guard to strip-search male inmates, it would be reasonable to confine your search to men. You're discriminating based upon sex, which ordinarily is unacceptable, but in the context of this position, is relevant. If you were interviewing for another position, such as a prison administrator, limiting your search to men would be an arbitrary constraint that's irrelevant and puts an entire group of people at a disadvantage.

Society tends to classify discrimination as bad if you use an arbitrary characteristic AND one that the individual has no control over.

Arguable, the proper attitude to take is the aphorism "if you don't having anything nice to say..." and the golden "do unto others...."

For the record, I don't think it /is/ actually any different, just that it's more socially acceptable.

My uncle is an accomplished Orthopedic surgeon. He's smart, well read, well-respected (and deservingly so).

And it's almost painful watching him operate a computer sometimes. Basic tasks like moving around a Window to uncover another one needs to be explained. Some people are lousy drivers. Some people are just really bad with using a computer.

But: He would never leave the type of comment you see on the linked site. Have you seen those? I'm not convinced that these are the same accomplished people that you and I are talking about.

There's no denying that a lot of people still get confused about websites and google and the internet as a whole. But if you're using facebook and using it enough to complain about the 'new login page' then you really should be held to higher standards.

I remember tutoring my mother in the use of computers. It was the early 90s and she had no previous experience whatsoever.

To my amazement such seemingly trivial things like double clicking turned out to be a problem. She tapped the mouse button twice, but too slowly to register. While my first reaction to this was embarrassment, the whole thing turned out to be a learning experiment for me - in human condition.

> When a computer puts an error up on the screen

The funny thing is, you can turn most people away from the computer and read the error message verbatim (or any other dialog) and they'll be able to answer you. It's merely the fact that it's displayed on the computer that confuses/scares them. Once they've answered you (say "Yes, I want to cancel") you can turn them back to the computer and they'll still have trouble picking the right button.

There is some kind of mental block here -- but I believe that most people can get past it if they're forced to interact with computers. I rarely just click on a dialog for people -- I make them read it. I make them think about it. I make them pick the right button -- over and over. Eventually they gain more confidence and can do it themselves. And slowly they do begin to "get" computers. Dropping someone into facebook without them having the confidence is probably never going to work. But smart people don't have to be dumb with computers.

This is a great point. A relative still gets really scared when the anti-virus software pops up with an "install update?" kind of message, etc.

She's a smart women with 2 masters degrees, but when an unexpected dialog box or popup box appears on the screen, her brain shuts down and fear takes over.

"But, she's totally lost on Facebook."

Is that really so bad, though? I don't know about anybody else, but I've never liked the Facebook UI. I always thought it was a confusing mess. Lite Facebook is about as close as they've gotten to something user-friendly.

Granted, that's a bit different from the ridiculousness involved with the RWW post, but they're already trying to log in to a confusing website that has been changing it's interface recently.

I just used Facebook as an example because it's topical. She can find her way around Quickbooks well enough, since she uses it as her POS. Other than that, it's all a mystery.

The point was, let's dispense with this notion that intelligence and general ability are somehow related to computer literacy. If anyone's not sure about this, I'd be more than happy to talk about one of my other clients, a guy who used to build floating homes -- not little houseboats, but multi-story works of art, on water. And he's completely lost on a computer.

Interesting. How much effort have these people put into acquiring computer literacy though? It is hard for me to believe that anyone with average intelligence who applies him/herself for a day or two cannot master browsing the web. I mean, if you can look up a road directory and navigate to an address, or consult a phone directory and find a specific phone number, you already possess the required skills to understand web browsing. It is not really that alien, is what I'm saying.

The fact that it appears alien to the people you mention is probably due more to having some sort of mental block against exploring computers than to computers being actually alien to them. My mother, for instance, had for the longest time an aversion to trying stuff out on a computer for fear of damaging it. She only started getting it when I gave her an old laptop and assured her that it was ok if she totally junked it. She would still have her desktop and I no longer needed that box. Now she's happily discovering and playing games on Facebook and wasn't even fazed by the recent change in the UI. :)

My mother, for instance, had for the longest time an aversion to trying stuff out on a computer for fear of damaging it.

You're really talking about the same thing. The fear of damaging the thing is the result of not comprehending it. A person can have the skills to use a keyboard and mouse, but until they develop a working cognitive model that holds up in novel situations, the whole thing remains pretty alien. That's how you end up with situations like this, where people are able to turn on the computer, open a browser, use a search engine, log into a web site, post a comment on the public internet, and still be completely mistaken about what is going on.

You can get someone to that level in a day or two, maybe, but really understanding it in a way that enables them to navigate intuitively in unfamiliar situations is a lot harder. I don't think we've figured out a way to teach that.

Second that. For instance what's the difference between "Top News" and "Most Recent"? They seem to display the same stuff in a slightly different order. I'm a computer programmer and have masters degree so I don't think I'm dumb...

Most Recent displays EVERYTHING (like News Feed used to). Top News filters things by ann algorithm that weights by the amount of comments/likes, among other things.

Wouldn't "All Posts" and "Popular Posts" be more descriptive?

"Posts" in this context isn't a word that most people would grok. "Popular news" isn't clear, while "Top news" does make sense next to "All news"

Same here, I totally can't find my way around facebook.

Facebook has no consistency to its navigation

More accurately, everyone here has at least one subject about which they care so little that they won't attempt to "get" it, no matter how simple it becomes. If I start talking computing to my wife, her brain immediately turns off. If i start listening to her reading recipes, mine does the same. It's not that she doesn't enjoy using computers or that I don't enjoy eating the food she cooks, but we all have limited bandwidth and most of us have conscious filters by which we restrict our CPU cycles to subjects that actively interest us.

I think when dealing with the general public, specialists too often confuse "don't care" with "is stupid".

I'd imagine if your food came with instructions on how to cook them you, as a poor cook, would at least know enough to read and follow the instructions. I can't cook worth a dime normally, but I can follow directions in order to make Mac & Cheese or Ramen.

I daresay, if something I am not familiar with pops up with an error message, I would at least read it!

As my Cordon-Bleu trained chef friend likes to say, Stuff That Comes In A Box Is Not Cooking!

Are you really that positive that there is no subject which is so baffling to you that you wouldn't even attempt to diagnose something related to it? 'Cause I've met plenty of programmery-types that don't know a fuel pump from an alternator, and when their car breaks down, they're as stuck as everyone else.

You're ignoring the fact that computers are filled with text. Menus, window titles, commands, icons, etc. etc. -- your brain has already been trained to filter through all that. You do it without even thinking about it.

Lots of other people do not. So, to them, the directions, or that pop up, is just more words on the screen.

So, to them, the directions, or that pop up, is just more words on the screen.

It's one of the main problems with user interface for the really tech-inept. It's a fundamentally hard problem, because you don't know what they're expecting, and you can't predict it 100% of the time.

That said though, most programmery-types are problem-solvers at heart, and would be looking for information when their car broke down. Many people don't even look for the word "help" when stuck on a computer, they just make a fuss and wait / storm off because they fully think it's incomprehensible to them (usually because they haven't tried learning anything about it).

As complex as computers are, take a look at OLPC and similar projects, where a supremely back-water pocket of a society is introduced to computers for the first time. The kids look, poke, and are up and running within minutes because they're learning how to use it. Adults who try achieve the same in roughly the same amount of time. Many non-tech people though won't even approach it as something new, they expect it to be a "magic box" that does what they want, not what they tell it to do (like employees?). Nothing in the world works that way, why expect this to be any different?

Yeah. I get where you're coming from, but my attitude's changed a bit over the last couple of years because of my business. I now think that most of those people aren't really uninquisitive, they're just busy. They have more pressing concerns than some new tech toy or gadget.

I've even noticed myself getting to be that way, which I don't like. For example, when Windows 7 was coming out, I didn't think, "Oh neat, something new to try!" I thought, "Oh goody, a whole new batch of problems coming my way."

My experience is not that it's a matter of being busy, or even lazy. These people have simply convinced themselves that working with computers is hard. They got lost because they assume they'll get lost. They stop at an error message not because it takes two minutes, but because they assume dealing with the task is insurmountable. It's almost like testing anxiety--they think they're going to fail, so they fail, and it entrenches a response of frustration for no rational reason.

Which is certainly valid. But one would think that this magic box that holds all your financial data, (for many) all your work, and is used to get an enormous amount of your amusement would be worth understanding in even a rudimentary way. Especially since being completely ignorant of safe practices is catastrophically dangerous. People learn how to use their cars for just such a reason, and they spend less time in them than most do on their computer.

It's laziness. There's no other excuse. When that sets in for too long, it becomes denial of being capable of learning. Learning the newest stuff, being an early adopter etc? Hell no, you can't know everything. Other things in life are important too, and should be more important than computer-stuff for most.

But knowing something isn't just good for you, it's essential. Getting from zero to 0.1 should be at the top of their priority lists.

(I should point out that I really love working with UI/UX stuff, and I in no way believe that things can't be easier, even by far. I even enjoy fighting that perpetually-hard problem. But there's no helping the intentionally-ignorant, and I don't believe in making excuses for them.)

I contend that branding people as intentionally ignorant is an excuse for your own laziness. You're always going to be able to dismiss part of the problem as "too hard" to bother addressing, that way. I used to feel that way myself. It's convenient, but it's also not true.

The truth is that people are learning constantly whether they want to or not. It's what humans do. We take input from the world and turn it into cognitive models of the world. The only question is what input and how accurate the model is--things which the designer of a thing can always influence.

What you're seeing when you see laziness is people who have developed a cognitive model of computers (or whatever) that involves a lot of pain and confusion relative to the reward. Some of this is just absorbed from the surrounding culture, but much of it is gleaned from their actual experience in using them. They have learned that learning about the computer = pain, and that's what they avoid. A common element of that pain is feeling stupid and lazy for not yet understanding. (After all, that's what people who do understand computers keep telling you.) But who can blame a person for avoiding painful experiences?

Learning always involves at least a trace of confusion, but it doesn't have to be painful in a way that people want to avoid in spite of the rewards. Eliminate the unnecessary pain from these experiences and you'll find that "laziness" seems to disappear along with it.

Yes! Yes. This is spot-on, I hadn't thought of it that way either, but in fact a couple of my clients have said exactly this. I just didn't get it before.

One of them previously had a computer tech that actually did berate them for not knowing computer basics. Another one constantly refers to herself as "stupid" (or, "I feel so stupid") for not understanding how to use the computer.

I used to think this way, until I stepped back and abstracted it a bit.

Look at it from further away, and it's behavior based on fear that's become harmful. It's identical to people afraid of flying, driving, swimming, going out in public, etc. But those are seen as disorders, and how does society handle them? By pointing out they're harmful, and offering help.

How does society handle computer fear? By saying it's ok? But it's not, it's harmful. These are the people who are hit for phishing scams and identity theft. Millions upon millions of dollars of damage. That's worse than many other fears that people aggressively seek treatment for.

So, why don't people get help for their fears? That's more person-to-person, but at a super-broad view they're not fixing it because they're ignoring it; "they have better things to do". Sometimes that's true, for things they don't believe to be harmful (sometimes incorrectly, sometimes not), but most of the time it's because they're afraid of it. That's an extremely poor excuse for not fixing things that you know to be a problem, and in every other situation everybody acknowledges this. Difficulty != excuse.

To summarize: if a fear is harmful, get it fixed or you are implicitly accepting the consequences of your fear. Fear of flying means you don't fly. That means you'll never get a job that requires flying, and you'll put more miles on your car.

People don't know that it is fear. They think it's normal for computers to be difficult, confusing, fragile, and have internalized the belief that they are stupid and lazy and incapable of understanding without years of dedicated effort. And they think that because people who "know computers" keep telling them so, either directly or by designing interfaces that support that notion.

It isn't wholly irrational fear, either. Computers are uniquely fragile and prone to disrupting expectations. People looking for Facebook who wound up on ReadWriteWeb got there by doing something that had worked the day before. Ideally, they would have an understanding of what was going on and what assumptions had been violated. In practice, they had no intrinsic reason to until that moment.

(In fact works even better now: Google has added a link to the Facebook login within the suggestion box for the search "facebook login".)

It's identical to people afraid of flying, driving, swimming, going out in public, etc.

These are all things in which much effort is made to eliminate painful experiences and prevent feared things from happening. You can never get 100%--there are practical limits to what you can do or need to reach a level where people will use them. I don't believe that we have reached the limit of what can be done from the creation side to make computers less painful to use on the consumer side.

I've never thought of it from this viewpoint before. It explains the irrational "ignorance" people seem to display.

Cars are, as usual, a really poor analogy. It's true I have absolutely no idea how to fix a car if it breaks down; however, fixing cars is a highly specialized skill (especially these days) and requires expensive equipment. Companies like Facebook, meanwhile, spend millions of dollars on usability testing so that their websites and applications are easy to use, and there is the expectation that anybody _can_ use them. Now if we were talking about programming, or even system administration, it would be a more apt analogy.

Companies like Facebook, meanwhile, spend millions of dollars on usability testing...

Which goes to show throwing money at a problem isn't a good way to fix it.

Problem is, most cook books are dreadful. They leave out all sorts of important details, and assume you are a master cook.

Sounds just like computer programs.

I would too. But consider the fact that on the most popular operating system in the world, pop ups with messages are usually devoid of actionable understandable information. It's just a "huh?"

People don't see each popup with fresh eyes, they associate them with most of the other popups they've seen; overly technical, they didn't understand them, the options made no sense, and they had to call for help.

People ignore all the cruft on screen and only scan for the one thing they're familiar with in order to get by, this is the behaviour that the Windows operating system has conditioned them into adopting. They know from experience that you shouldn't touch things you're not familiar with, because often enough things go wrong. Suspicious behaviour is a sign of malware.

A lot of this is Microsoft's fault. Really.

Surely this happens any time some new technology is introduced.

If you look at the people who mistook the RWW article for Facebook they're almost invariably over 30, and I didn't see a single teenager or college age person.

This is fascinating... apparently users are just typing "facebook login" into google, clicking on the first link, and getting very confused as to why they're not actually on facebook.

How can you design a web application that is usable by people with this level of computer knowledge? Should one even try?

You relentlessly simplify. You collect data and look for errors or opportunities for misunderstanding, then eliminate them. You tell people how to succeed with the app three times. You make the defaults close to success. You aggressively segment your users, giving the hard stuff only to those that can handle it. You provide an easy way to talk to you and pipe that straight to the dev team to automate or eliminate responses to the common issues.You implement game mechanics and award people features for learning or mastering other features.

This is not trivial but it also is not impossible. Trust me if my users can do it then yours can too. Help them succeed and take their money for it.

I think that the point is that there is not a single product at work here, but multiple products from different vendors. Facebook can't improve their interface to make users not type "facebook login" into Google as a way of accessing their site.

That is a failure of the imagination. They certainly could -- whether it is worth doing or not is another question, but hey, that is what God gave us A/B testing to figure out.

"Hey user, it looks like you came to us today from Google searching for [Facebook login]. Did you know that there is a better way? Type facebook.com into [blah blah blah]. Try it now and we'll give you 5 free credits for [without loss of generality: FarmVille]!"

"Great job! You should do that every time. If you do that to log into Facebook the next five days you use the service, we'll award you a Facebook Diploma and give you another 10 free credits for [without loss of generality: FarmVille]!"

On the back end, you show the above prompts to N% of your users who you detect coming to the login page from Google search results (this is trivial -- check the referer). You then compare any user metric you want for the "Was Shown Facebook Login Course" population and "Complete Facebook Login Course" population with the population at large. Kill the test if it hurts your metrics, deploy it sitewide if it helps them.

Incidentally, I was talking to a fellow Japan-based HNer the other day, and we both independently talked about IMVU. You know why IMVU is the coolest technology company I've ever heard of even though they make a product which I couldn't care less about? Because if this happened to IMVU, the most junior engineer in the company could code up the above behavior and deploy it live in less time than it took to read the blog post describing the problem, in full confidence that the production site would not break.

The possibilities of that development model are staggering. (Want to know how you can run rings around more established competitors? If you're learning at that speed and they're learning at the "release every six months" speed you will bury them.)

Well played.

Answer: You can't, and no, you shouldn't try. You have to assume your users actually have the ability to get to your website before you can worry about what they do when they get there.

Sorry, but this whole thing is a whole new level of idiocy I had not previously encountered: Even my mother (whose sole computer skill is that she can get to amazon.com to buy gifts for people) would be able to determine whether or not she was at amazon after searching Google and clicking a random link.

My God! RWW isn't even BLUE for heaven's sakes.

My God! RWW isn't even BLUE for heaven's sakes.

Facebook users who have made this mistake are also confused by this. Clearly something is amiss--they know they aren't at the Facebook they desire--but they don't know where the mistake was made, or by whom.

Even the basic error is not egregiously stupid. Generally speaking, wouldn't you expect, from years of Google usage, that the first result for "facebook login" to be the Facebook login page? In fact, it is, if you ignore the news results. If.

Consider that: RWW is a top result for "facebook login" (not a "random link"), it does have multiple Facebook logos and the text "Sign in with Facebook" directly above the comment form. These things conspire to aid the user's confusion along with the most damning setter of expectations: the fact that it used to work.

You may understand that Google's results are not always perfect, that the Facebook logo appears on sites unrelated to Facebook, and that "Sign in with Facebook" does not have anything to do with using Facebook. But does Gladys? Evidently not. And why should she? Until yesterday, she didn't need to.

You have to assume your users actually have the ability to get to your website before you can worry about what they do when they get there.

Yes, but for most businesses you'll want them to be able to get back too, and that is non-trivial and worth optimizing for.

Get their email address and send them opt-in lifecycle emails. This is, far and away, the best alternative.

Have them bookmark your site. Many of them will not understand bookmarks. Teach them to understand.

SEO for whatever users thing your business name is. If you think your app is called Foobar and users think your app is called Fubar then you had better be at the top of the results for [fubar], too.

Get desktop/dock/launch bar real estate. (Desktop apps: not dead yet! They can still open websites. :))

> Have them bookmark your site. Many of them will not understand bookmarks. Teach them to understand.

Isn't that really advocating that each and every website on the internet should teach their users basic computer skills?

I mean if these people had bought a magazine from the news stand, and it said "Popular Mechanics" instead of "Playboy" on it, do you think that they would just say to themselves, "I guess that Playboy changed their name, logo, and stopped showing pictures of naked women. Interesting. I'll have to tell me friends about this?"

A hypothetical engineer might be emotionally invested in "Everyone should know enough about computers to do basic things, and they should have learned that years ago, so if they can't do them it is their fault." That hypothetical engineer might bristle at being told "You should help them succeed, even if it means teaching them the basics."

A hypothetical business owner, told that there was an issue that was preventing his customers from paying him money, would probably say "Fix it."

Some days we have to pick whether we want to be engineers or business owners. For my part, I spent time yesterday teaching a PhD how to open PDFs.

> "Everyone should know enough about computers to do basic things, and they should have learned that years ago, so if they can't do them it is their fault."

I think that it's more along the lines of assuming that everyone on the road took a driver's test to be there. You don't think that people should have learned to drive years ago. People just feel that you should be able to assume a certain level of competency among your users as part and parcel of owning/using a computer. But as we see in the real world, you can never assume that people have a certain level of knowledge/logic ability. (i.e. Needing to put the "do not use top of ladder as a step" warning on ladders because there are enough people that don't realize that's dangerous)

Slightly akin to getting in a taxi, saying "Joe's place", ending up at in a house that is entirely unlike that of your friend Joe's, the furniture is different, etc and still being confused at why those in the house aren't happy to see you.

I'm early 30s and already prone to delegating rather than learning new technology, but I at least make the effort to read instructions, warnings and errors so I know what's going on.

This is why I don't get too excited about Internet entrepreneurship. In order to be successful, you have to appeal to this type of person. And I don't want to.

(Is there even a single comment there written in correct written English? I don't see one; everything is misspelled, mis-capitalized, or just plain incomprehensible. Depressing! So very depressing!)

We were talking about that at lunch and saying how we don't have the same mindset as "regular" people. For example, I just never ever click on ads. But many many people do. Similarly, I'm very reluctant to pay for virtual goods (in games mostly), especially when I know that what they provide is just a very simple programming trick (e.g. a game site selling "pens" to write in different colors in chatrooms)

I agree that it's actually difficult to get into this mindset. I tend to say that you can get money if you can "cater to the stupid". I thought it was kind of harsh but that Facebook login story proves me that it's not necessarily.

Depends what virtual good your paying for, more content in a game I'm spending a lot of time playing would be worth it, although I don't see myself liking any of the flash app games on that level.

Google ads can be useful from time to time, random ads not really, I think most of the random ads I click on are non purchase interesting looking things or ads for physical stores I know because they have a decent deal in the ad.

Beyond the examples of virtual goods and ads, my point is that I'm not necessarily a typical user which makes it sometimes difficult to grasp the way people work.

Part of my daily-ish rounds of the interwebs is http://failbooking.com/

What some people do in public without even realizing it is truly hilarious.

Someone recently pointed me out to http://stfumarrieds.tumblr.com/ , which is mostly Facebook. Still hilarious.

Of course if your app is aimed at educated people, such as a tool for engineers, you get a nicely self-selected group and can avoid these problems.

But you'll never get to facebook-level with a niche audience like that. It certainly avoids some of the problems with dealing with stupidity though.

Educated people... can avoid these problems.

I have a user population with 50% masters degrees which disagrees with you. Violently.

Educators in the US are mostly boorishly uneducated.

A Masters in Teaching is a professional degree (it exists to get the holder an automatic raise), and even by those low standards it's at the very bottom of the barrel, even lower than the average MBA. A doctorate in education is closer to a normal masters degree.

"Educated" is the past tense. Some people just stop learning after a while, even though there were capable of it in the past.

People that have education and continue to get it are the people that can "avoid these problems"... but we don't really have a good word for "educated and able to learn", so the OP just said "educated".

Perhaps they have managed to get a Master's without actually becoming "educated." It's not like it's not possible—you can become an expert in a very deep-yet-narrow field without ever having to learn how to think and problem-solve in the general case (which is what a liberal arts degree was supposed to be for.)

I can't create a single sentence in correctly written Chinese. Or Russian, or even French for that matter -- I can cough up some random French words on paper, but they will likely be misspelled and "just plain incomprehensible."

What "type" of person am I?

Written communication is a stunt that is mastered by a relative handful of people, and polite, formal written communication by even fewer. The others communicate by more traditional and universal means: Talk, music, dance, art, games, cooking, commerce.

These people are primarily native English speakers. Of course errors are excusable when mastering a second language, but I don't think anyone seriously believes that any significant number of those people are non-native English speakers.

If only we could comment on a blog by cooking.

Less sarcastically, maybe people would like a system for posting voice comments to blogs. Startup opportunity for ya.

This is pretty much how I use google, and yet I'm a coder. We seem to be assuming that these are only non-technical users. I find the quickest way to get to what I want is usually through a google search rather than visiting a site and browsing around within it trying to find the feature or content I want. Basically I've adopted the search interface as highly more efficient than most user interfaces within most websites.

However I do actually read my search results and refine my criteria if necessary rather than just clicking on the first link.

Google might fix their search results so that the first result is the actual Facebook login. Problem solved.

Anyway, go to Facebook and you have to log in. No need to search for it explicitly.

So they have to do it for all websites?

"people with this level of computer knowledge" have apparently been using Facebook. Facebook is doing pretty well.

It is not possible.

Look at the interfaces exposed by any general public machine/gadget outside of computing, and the layers of abstraction that the consumer needs to grasp.

Automobiles are one of the rare gadgets that expose an internal system layer (the engine) and right there you clearly see a divide between the users who can only interact with the general purpose (simple wheel, pedals, key, gear shift) interface, and the automotive geek ("grease monkey") who also has a clue what's going on under the hood.

As soon as any sort of symbolic interaction is required (remote/vcr programming) you again lose a whole chunk of the population that simply can not get it.

A "consumer product" has to be an appliance, not a general purpose computing machine, hosting a general purpose operating system, hosting a general purpose application (web2.0 browser), hosting yet more general applications.

The fact that the "farmville" crowd even manages to get to interact on the web (and leave hysterical comments on RWW) is by itself a major accomplishment of the geek set! ;)

It is interesting though that many of these lost users were able to find the comment box and leave a comment. Perhaps that's something they've learned from Facebook?

They logged in using "Facebook Connect" (i.e. the Facebook OpenID-type thing). So they scanned the page looking for their login, and found a Facebook logo so they clicked on it and logged in. Then they were just presented a comment form so (apparently) they assumed it was the only action they could take.

I think it is worse than that. I typed in "facebook login" clicked the first link (which wasn't RWW at the time) and here's what I got: http://tinyurl.com/ylapbnu

17 comments and not a Facebook logo in sight.

Hard to believe. Then again, these are probably the bottom 1%, as there are probably thousands that went to that page, out of which some were clueless enough not to be able to find the actual facebook home page, and were yet able to comment.

Some of the worse comments:

I don;t understand, new facebook sucks! WHere are all of my friends and why are there all these ads for khabrein? How to I get to my LOGIN?!?!?!?!?

I don't like Facebook's new logo. Why did they change their name to Khabrein!!!???

this is awful. more useless crap i don't want. if i wanted news info i would go somewhere else, but i don't want it, any of it. thanks for spoiling my one outlet in life.

I'm not really sure whether to believe those ones are true or just people that picked up on the other snafu at RWW and are just trolling.

Netflix used to make it very difficult to find any of their customer service contact addresses or phone numbers.

I have an old blog post with a title that includes the word 'Netflix' and the phrase 'Customer Service', where I ramble on about a whole bunch of things; the content of the post is about a general principle that I think Netflix was illustrating, not about Netflix itself. The title, though, resulted in the post showing up high in search results for 'Netflix customer service'.

Three people attempted to address Netflix customer service via the comments box; one of them posted his phone number. Another posted his postal address and credit card information.

I posted a comment making it explicit that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, this blog post was not, in fact, Netflix customer service HQ.

A year later another guy posted another Netflix customer service request, right under my 'This is not Netflix' message.

The absolute worst example of this kind of thing I've seen was a bunch of years ago when a blogger posted a short note that mentioned the words "suicide chat room" in it. The comments turned in to a chat room for people considering suicide. Over a thousand of them.

Not to hate on Daring Fireball but why is it that a link from his site about this topic gets more comments and points than an original HN that pointed it out in the first place?


Its as though no one cared too much about this until Gruber made a post about it.

Because the original was labeled as an "Amusing Comment Thread"; Gruber (and others) explains what's going on.

See also this somewhat-infamous post from 2002 which, because it discussed Maury Povich's show and ranked somewhat highly for a relevant search term, was assumed by many people to be the official site for the show:


Another example is mentioned here:


Except for the trolls, that's pretty sad.

D'oh... thanks for the link. The more "Facebook login" text that links back to RWW, the more of these confused/angry comments we're gonna get.

Don't you love SEO? o_0

It would be pretty difficult for RRW to out-rank Facebook in organic search results because of linking.

Constant news articles are another thing.

One reason Daring Fireball doesn't have a comment system.

I'm sure _most_ Facebook users don't do this, but enough do to make for great hilarity in this particular case.

This is all hilarious, but there's no reason to assume it's statistically significant.

Seeing as this phenomenon -- even to the point of people literally typing URLs into Google and then clicking the first result -- is old, well-known and well-documented, I'm gonna guess you need to broaden your usability reading.

Here, for example, is an article from 2007 pointing out that the top search term on Google was... "Yahoo":


Here's Jeremy Zawodny in 2008 musing on the fact that people neither know about nor understand the address bar:


I could go on like this for a while, but the takeaway is that if you know what your browser's address bar is for and actually type URLs into it, then you're probably in a small minority of web users.

Maybe users that type in actual addresses are in the minority, but then I consider this to be a basic literacy issue, just as I consider it a failure of basic science literacy when people say that lasers work by focusing sound waves (http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/01/public_knowledge_...). The Internet has had a transformative effect on society, and to not even know the first thing about it represents a failure of the educational system to prepare people to participate in what is now a very connected world.

It's not a failure of literacy, it's a failure of URLs as a system. Which company has which URL is determined by a long set of events having to do with competing businesses, events and plain luck that even people here wouldn't care to unravel for most of the sites they visit. The best example I can think of now is when pitchfork (the music review site) was at pitchforkmedia.com, and pitchfork.com was owned by a company that sold hay.

Search, on the other hand, has failures, but those failures are rapidly fixed.

Yea, but people also have to fail at understanding the bookmarking functionality of browsers as well. You don't have to understand the location/address bar to understand that you can bookmark a page to come back to it.

Charles Miller today commented on this:


And mentioned his own anecdote:


Choice quote:

URLs. Bookmarks. Changing your homepage. All of these things were voodoo.

As he points out, claims that people are more "savvy" today than they were then probably don't hold up; if anything, users back then probably were more knowledgeable on average, simply by virtue of even having Internet access.

My comment wasn't the people should know about the bookmarking system, just that the concept of the bookmarking system is less complex to people than the concept of URLs and the location/address bar.

Isn't that something Chrome / Safari / Opera are doing well now?

Top Sites is going to show facebook as the first link - in a big box called facebook, as soon as they open their browser..

It certainly isn't _most_ users, but there are enough people that do this to register on Google Trends: http://www.google.com/trends?q=facebook%2C+facebook+login

I've found that the single biggest impediment to computer literacy to the "ordinary" is the somehow ingrained belief that its impossible for them to understand anything about their own computers.

Learning to use a computer is not like neurosurgery, its more like driving a car. A little attention, a smidge of effort and just believing that its possible is all most people need. Geeks are partly to blame for this because they (the lesser ones especially) tend to "jargonize" and "magicalize" simple aspects of computer maintenance.

Once people realize that they can understand things about their computers, its like lighting little fires in their minds.

A similar barrier exists for many people with simple math. As a tutor, it's incredibly frustrating when I introduce a simple algebra expression (plus, minus, maybe even multiplication) and a grown person shrieks "No, I don't understand math. I just don't get it" without even spending a moment to see if they can understand.

Well, my theory is that learning to use a car is easier because it's a physical thing that obeys the laws of physics, whereas in computer science we don't have to obey the laws of physics, which means we have much less constraints, more freedom, so we're basically free to just "make up stuff" as we go, so of course someone who isn't familiar with that world of ours are having a bit of a hard time keeping up.

I used driving as a way to illustrate the scale of the background knowledge required for the activities. There is a fair amount of background information required to drive safely that has nothing to do with physics. The rules and conventions of the road are not based on physics. Sometimes they seem to be completely devoid of logic as well. Teenagers regularly master these well enough to function. There is little fear that they will have trouble with this. Everybody does it right? (But when that fear is present, it is equally debilitating in the auto world, its just much more rare.)

Neurosurgery on the other hand, is hedged by an impenetrable wall of background knowledge that must be mastered in order to achieve even basic competency. It takes a dedicated expert a lifetime of study and practice. It really should be left exclusively to experts.

My point was that most people think operating to computers is closer to neurosurgery than driving so there's no point in even trying to understand. Just call the expert. Once they realize this is not the case, they often learn the basics fairly quickly.

Hmmm, maybe there should be a "driving test" before you're allowed on the internet.

I have to admit that I used to do that in Firefox, back before I switched to Chrome.

Firefox address bar used to make it really convenient. It did a kind of "feeling lucky" search, taking me directly to the first result if it was the "right" search result, or to google's search otherwise. I don't know how google determined if it should display a results page or not but it used to work very well. I stopped caring about bookmarks and and memorizing URLs and just used keywords to get where I wanted.

Of course it's silly for really popular pages like facebook, but it worked fairly well for pages I used to visit ocasionally.

Exactly. And that's one of the things I love the most about chrome. The traditional address bar for me at least has almost become obsolete. And I love that chrome uses the address bar instead of a second search box. And it's also what I hate about jumping on a friend's PC who's using IE... Bing as the default is just plain terrible.

Would this have happened in ReadWriteWeb looked more like Daring Fireball?

One of the causes of this kind of mistaken identity problem is that users have become conditioned to a web full of irrelevance and distraction. RWW is typical of many sites: a huge amount of the content loaded for any article is stuff meant to distract you from the article itself. Not just advertising, but crap. How much of that singing, dancing circus is actually necessary? If it isn't necessary, why is it there?

Is it not ridiculous that RWW's message to these confused users is placed in bold black text in the article that they demonstrably did not come there to read and not anywhere amid the colorful parade of nonsense and not anywhere near the text "Sign in with Facebook". It's even below the fold on my system. Do people still want to blame user stupidity alone? Please.

Like all humans, when these users wind up somewhere unfamiliar, they reach for whatever is familiar. In this case, the article has not one, but two Facebook logos above the fold. One in the article text, reading "Facebook", immediately below the word "Facebook" in the headline. Why is this necessary? The other is in the header, and links to RWW on Facebook. But so does the huge Facebook sidebar widget a few scrolls down. Just in terms of pixels, Facebook has already carved out a nice chunk of the page, competitive with that of the body text. And then there's the text itself, the little Facebook logos on all of the user pictures of people who likewise thought this was somehow related to Facebook, and most damning of all, the text "Sign in with Facebook" right above the comment form.

A person who has just Googled for "facebook login" and who just saw a half dozen Facebook logos, and just saw dozens of other people who made the same mistake complaining, who then mistakes that username/password field as meaning "Sign in to Facebook" is not making an epic error in judgement. They are making a simple mistake based on a limited understanding of things they have never had a reason to understand. They aren't stupid, they're human.

I don't really mean to single out RWW, though. This is a web-wide problem. You will never be able to eliminate stupid mistakes or the "better fool", but you can stop gently assisting such confusion and illiteracy by thinking about why what you're doing isn't helping.

Out of curiosity, is it not possible that all these people are just making/perpetuating a joke? You know, improv' everywhere style, or just to have some fun? I know we all hold ourselves so smart and above the 'masses', but come on, no one wonders? And so many people leaving comments where 99% of a website visitors never leave a single comment?

Unfortunately I see the over application of this principle, and the general "Don't Make Me Think" approach all over the place. I build systems for people that use them all day long, every day. They become experts pretty quickly and start looking for shortcuts and other things, if you make them available to them. I have to deal with testers that assure me that if it doesn't make sense to them the first time, it's wrong. They even play dumb to make it harder on me.

People can't even drive a car without training. We need to use progressive revelation of complexity and capability to make things more powerful. Using simplicity as the excuse to give up power- the "who needs a command prompt, everything can be done with a GUI approach" is often a mistake.

Just because some people don't naturally understand something doesn't make it bad, you just have to teach them how to be more awesome, or let them stick with the defaults.

Speaking of Facebook, I had a client call because he said he couldn't login... due to the fact he thought the "add friends using your existing email contacts" message he was seeing after a successful login was a failure screen. He continually reset his password for a week before calling, wondering why it didn't work.

About the habit to type everything into Google search:

I thought typing facebook.com (or somesite.com) into Google is crazy. But it has an advantage. If you misspell it, Google will fix the domain name for you. This way you get the protection from phishing sites.

Okay I try to bite:

Say I'm a "novice" user who starts up the web browser. If everything else works, then here's what I'll see:

A screen with a textbox that says "Search: [ ]". This textbox is at my eye level - I'm likely to see this before the "address" bar on top - which in a lot of computers isn't even labeled anymore.

So delightfully enough I search for something like "facebook login". If the first result isn't something I'm looking for, then I might get angry.... in some cases, at the person who authored the first result .. "hey jackass, I came here looking for the facebook login - whats going on? stop advertising as something you're not!".

What can I say, I'm just a spoilt baby boomer, and you want my money.

I think it's a mistake to generalize from those RWW commenters to "normal users." Of the millions of people who logged on to Facebook yesterday, many thousands probably got there via Google, and just a few hundred ended up commenting on various highly-ranked posts (though there were probably many more who clicked the posts but didn't comment). The commenters are not representative of normal Facebook users; they are a very aggressively filtered 99.99th percentile of the users who have the most trouble navigating the web.

[reposted from another thread, with corrections]

"All this argument over whether the iPad is too simple — if anything it’s probably still too complex." -- perfect summation off all that nonsense a couple of weeks ago.

It seems like this effect is now going on at websites that are referencing the original RWW article. See: http://www.khabrein.info/news/New_Facebook_homepage__new_Fac...

With great comments like: "Joyce 2010-02-11 07:26:55 How in the hell do I get into my home page?"

The only thing I can really say to this is to give a metaphor that anyone (most people) can understand:

  It's like accidentally walking into a Burger King but
  thinking that it's a McDonald's with a new logo, and then
  screaming and yelling at the employees and manager
  because they can't fill your order for a Big Mac.
I've run into actual people like this in the real world. People that have their head so stuck that they are right and you are wrong that even if an employee would try to explain to them, "This is not a McDonald's we don't have Big Macs, there is a McDonald's down the street if you want a Big Mac," the person would further yell and scream at the employees for who knows what reason.

{edit} Someone non-techie that I know in real life made the comment that these are probably the same people that call 911 to complain that the local McDonald's ran out of Chicken McNuggets.

People have called 911 because Burger King wasn't McDonald's. (Heard the 911 tape on a local radio show)

Having worked at McDonald's before I've seen this several times. We got one of these people every other shift I worked (mostly drive-thru) and most of them got rather belligerent and insisted we weren't a McDonald's with the sign staring them in the face thirty feet in front of their car.

<sarcasm> Obviously Burger King just hasn't done enough studies on their user interface. If their user interface were up to snuff, it would be impossible for someone to no know the difference </sarcasm>

I work on cricket.com, which is clearly a site about cricket the sport. The homepage usually features a picture of a cricketer and is filled with cricket stories. Every single day I would get a feedback email asking for help with a cricket wireless phone until I finally just removed the email address from the site.

It seems another website is now the top result for facebook login, with equally uhm.. odd comments: http://www.khabrein.info/index.php?do=comment&news_id=c5...

That comment thread is making me sick to my stomach. I didn't understand the true extent of the power that Google wields until now. People will apparently go wherever is first...

Then again, the bottom 1% of 300 million users is still a huge number of users, so maybe this isn't as bleak as it seems.

"Can we log into face book? This is crazy I want to get all my info off and be done with this. I recently moved from MN to SC Myrtle Beach and facebook was a great way to keep in touch with family and friends but this is getting to be to difficult."

This one is sad : (

Honestly, the worst part is how many 40-80 year old women are using the word "sucks".

Just tried the AOL keyword "Facebook login." Worked fine; what's the big deal?

This is just fucking great

Unbelievable. I checked to see if it was April 1st when I read this...but, no, apparently it's February 11th.

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