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No, I Don’t Want to Subscribe to Your Newsletter (python.sh)
289 points by jacobbudin on March 24, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 214 comments

I made a add-on for myself to shun sites that behave in ways I don't like. It removes links to their sites from every page. It effectively removes them from the internet. I think that's a way scarier scenario for a website owner than just getting their ads blocked. If the list were community driven and widely used, I think site owners would start changing their behavior. I know most people just want the content and don't care if they block a few ads but I'm sure, like me, there a good chunk of people that are fine with respecting the site owners wishes and just never going to the site (by never seeing their site mentioned ever again) since I'm not going to "pay" in any form.

I did publish the Firefox add-on (desktop only) just so I could avoid having to use web-ext or temporarily install it every time I run FF. It's a complete hassle to set up and configure at the moment. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ssure/?src=se...

Edit: Source is here https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/files/browse/601156... in case you want to try and not worry about it doing something shady.

Started playing with your add-on. Very cool!

My need is to remove annoyances like the Kardashians, but I had a thought. Eons ago, I decided to "protect" the Wikipedia page on the clitoris. There was a tasteful picture of an exposed woman, including scientific naming of all parts of the female genitalia. That page's picture was under constant assault from religious zealots who deleted the picture. I constantly returned it. Their reasoning was that having such a picture would make the page haram, not-halal, or a sin for people in developing countries. I countered that their issues with an encyclopedia were exactly that, their issues and it was their responsibility to block offending images. We should not censor the internet to the most easily offended.

Why does all that story matter? Well it got me thinking you could tweak (and maybe monetize?) your add-on to remove haram, non-halal, or sinful content on the user side. The type of people that don't want to see clitoris and porn links are exactly the type that don't want to accidentally see certain content. They may even want to pay for this~~

My 2 cents.

Can your add-on remove all mentions of the Kardashians, Taylor Swift, Kanye, and Bruce/Caitlin Jenner?

If you get no response you can safely assume the answer is yes :-P

After I added the rule to try i didn't see the comment :)

I am on this like white on rice. TYVM!

I've looked for something that does this without luck and had been toying with making it myself at some point.

I call ricist when I see it. Some of my favorite rice is brown!

HA! As a joke, I originally had "Kardashian" as sample for things other than URLs :) So yes, it can but you might not hit all the variety of ways they can be presented or get false hits, especially with "Swift".

Edit: Here's a screenshot of Google after adding the rule and searching "Kardashian" http://imgur.com/a/ltuAk

> get false hits, especially with "Swift"

This is why machine learning was invented. Context smart blocking of annoying things.

Makes me thing of the cloud to butt plug-in (teehee) that changed every instance of the word "cloud" on a page to "butt."

"..Host your data in our high availability butt..."

It's my favourite plugin, and it often causes hilarious situations to occur when I forget it's on.

check Block M, that blocks Black M content https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/block-m-the-black-...

I'm going to use this to block any advertisements/PR from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Thanks OP.

Unable to load any pages

You should probably copy that comment into the description on mozilla. If I only read what is there I would not have made the connection.

Yeah I know. Like I said, it was only originally published so I could use it without FFs stupid rules for running local add-ons. But if people dig it, I'll spruce it up. I don't want to bill it as strictly a URL hider either, although I guess I could make a version of it that just makes that specific goal easier and keep this one as a general decorator tool. I thought it might be useful for research as well but I don't really do research so I'm not sure how useful it would be.

Consensual, transparent censorship. Interesting.

Really not that different than kill files, something comment threads still desperately need.

I realize I'm well off the curve here, but I'd still love a browser killfile plug in with:

- fine-grained cookie management by name/secure status/path

- Make every cookie a session cookie in a given domain

- "Cookie pipes": I'd like the ability to execute scripts on cookie value changes, optionally returning a new value

- Javascript exec turned on/off by domain

- Access to various Javascript methods controlled by domain/path

I'm probably forgetting some things from a list I made a while back.

> - Javascript exec turned on/off by domain

Opera used to have this ;'-( before they fired the entire Presto (browser engine) team and switched to webkit/chrome.

I've been giving the "modern" Opera a test run for the past week and while it's still way snappier by miles (compared to firefox and chrome, on a slow laptop) but it still misses so many features I used to depend on in the 2000s.

Yes you can get add-ons for almost all of the functionality, but you'll grind firefox or chrome to a halt before you even get close the the functionality of the old Opera that just came with all that stuff, batteries included.

(before accusations of bloat: installer/executable size was tiny, I seem to remember below 1MB for medium-old versions)

> - Javascript exec turned on/off by domain

That one you can get with uMatrix, which gives you a table of Domain x {cookie, css, image, plugin, script, XHR, frame, other}. You can use this table to selectively decide what gets loaded, and what gets blocked. The default rules are, everything "first-party" (from the domain you're visiting) is allowed, but only images and CSS are allowed from any other sources. Beyond per-primary-domain overrides, you can also whitelist all or some of the content permanently in settings.

I've been using it for the past year or so, and while occasionally annoying, it makes the Web a saner place to visit, and it also makes it very obvious just how much useless crap people make you download to display their site.

EDIT: also, favouriting your comment for future reference. Maybe one day I get pissed enough and write the plugin you describe.

Can't help but think about what is censorship. What role does intent place? If you're trying to inform? Entertain? Sell?

Write an ad blocker you're celebrated, write an add-on that's hides divs that mention <insert political movement here>, you're a villain.

I think when you're the one controlling the list it's called filtering instead of censorship :)

that's awesome, I have considered doing the same thing

Hey it would be swell to implement this for Chrome as well.

I use Safari and I almost always click/tap the reader view icon as soon as the page loads. This:

1) Shows the text even if a modal has already tried to obscure it.

2) Ensures a legible font and contrast.

3) Undoes stupid scroll jacking. Yay, the text scrolls smoothly again.

4) Fixes the scroll bar so that it provides an accurate indication of how far through the page I've read, since the non-text crap I don't care about isn't part of the view now.

5) Allows me to copy text w/o worrying about anything else getting inserted to the clipboard.

6) Doesn't disclose to the site how far I've scrolled, which is none of their business.

And probably other good things I'm forgetting. Tapping the reader view icon as soon as the page loads has become habitual.

I obviously run an ad blocker as well.

This is in both iOS and macOS. Reader view FTW. It's the next best thing to disabling Javascript entirely.

Chrome and Firefox should include an as good reader view built in.

What do you call that giant banner that drops down on Medium (and other sites) every time I accidentally scroll up a pixel? I hate that thing.

I call it the nav teabag.

Naming things is hard, but you've captured the essence of it really nicely.


It's the header and it's super frustrating when that happens.

Firefox has one.

I use the safari reader view mode as well. It is decent, but the black/grey setting with white text still looks a bit off.

I prefer the Evernote 'simplified article' mode through safari or chrome extentions. It provides a simplified article, background colour similar to HN, and enables highlighting and brief comments.

That being said, the safari one works fine. I use it for 99% of articles, and on the 1% I go back to Evernote if I want to save the article, make a couple of highlights, or leave a comment.

With many sites you can just hit Esc before the page finishes loading and you avoid all the crappy ad pop-up scripts / "please turn off your ad blocker" messages.

Great. Now I can have a free reaction time test everytime I visit a news outlet. /s

Some apps on iOS have started to integrate the ability to drop directly into the reader view (Tweetbot is the one I use on a regular basis).

Mind me asking what ad blocker you use on iOS?

1Blocker. I'm using it on macOS too.

Works well if you're using the web to do... reading.

Which is exactly what the web was built for.

So why not use lynx?

Because many "smart" developers like to make their pages require JavaScript to display text-only articles...

Well I'm not sure if many do. Most websites that have modals load fine without JS.

This is what happens when you mindlessly optimise for metrics like user signups - not surprisingly, you get more signups when you block the content with an obnoxious modal but after a few years, you wonder where all your users went. How much value do you really get from a user who was forced to sign up with a gun to their head?

..but the thing is, they do work. They don't wonder where their users went because their numbers don't actually go down. Even e-mail spam has a 1% ~ 2% return rate. That's why we still have spam.

Sure you and I never click on those boxes, or disable javascript on offending pages, but the majority of web users do not. Many people do stick in an e-mail address, even if it's a bulk mail/spam address. Still, some people put in an address they actually check. That tiny amount of people, generate revenue.

I mean really ... the problem is people. It's okay though, one day we'll go extinct .. or we'll colonise beyond our solar system .. or someone already did that 2nd part and we're just in a simulation of said creatures.

Sleep well.

And to top it off click a misguided 'cute' attempt at making you change your mind with a further obnoxious button titled 'No I am not interested in <improving my life/earning more money/caring for my family>'. No doubt further inspired by this sort of optimization study.

this, people are too worried about the size of their list as opposed to actual engagement. If they don't open your emails they're just costing you money with your ESP.

If you have good content people will search hard for a way to get on your email list if necessary, i've done it before.

I manage the newsletter signups for a developer-focused company. I have a graph on a dashboard that shows "Fucks Given" for the newsletter signup. Essentially how many `fuckoff@fuckyou.com` type signups happen per week. Any time we try and increase the number of signups by changing the form, we also make sure that the number of "Fucks Given" stays as close to zero as possible. (Some people are just angry.)

this is why it's good to require a credit card for a free trial. it will kill the top of your funnel but the bottom will actually get fatter because those who do sign up for the free trial actually want to demo your software.

Are there numbers behind that reasoning?

I ask, because that doesn't match up well with my (anecdotal) experience as an end user. When I'm searching for software to either replace something I'm currently using but dissatisfied with or when I'm doing something new (to me), I want to demo candidates so I can get a feel whether I like them or not. I don't mind paying for quality software (though much quality software is free), but requiring credit card info for even a demo is the exact sort of hurdle which I won't put up with. The cost (in time, and potentially wasted time in the future) is just too high.

Yep, my experience is similar. I've bought tons of stuff online over the years and not once ever have I bought if I had to contact sales or had to fill out a lengthy form [1] in order to get a demo or price. This includes during the two startups I cofounded (ie where I was the person making the company purchase decisions).

[1] I'll fill out short "email, name, company (if optional), industry" form but only if I don't think some salesperson is going to give me a call.

I will not sign up for a demo that requires I provide real information unless I have no other choice. It's not that I'm not serious about buying. Rather, I have no patience for spamming or harassment from salespeople.

...and lose all the people who might have been on the fence, but willing to give your product 1/2 a chance.

Depends on what and who you are selling to.

For business purchases, the compliance and other risk is way too high for me to do that. You get knocked off the list if you require that.

Gun to the head?

Some companies don't want "users" they want paying customers. The article does not do a good job at all at explaining the context of their frustration other than "Ugh I don't like being treated like this, therefore other people don't, therefore it's bad".

I'd say the article is downright bad. It assumes there is only one use for a modal: abuse.

If you instantly pop a modal which completely obscures your page on the very first visit to your site, then yes - that's abuse of the modal paradigm. This is the modal the original author is referring to. Not all modals.

Yes, cannot vote up twice

IMO it doesn't worth the time to discuss appropriate and inappropriate uses of JavaScript. It's way simpler to disable it entirely. I use two browsers: Firefox with "YesScript" extension which keeps the black list of sites where JS is disabled: see a popup? laggy scrolling? sticky headers? Bam! hit the button and you won't see it again.

For work, where web applications like Google suite matter, I use Chrome.

Some time ago browser developers realized that letting Javascript open new windows was a bad idea and every browser now has a setting (on by default) to block pop-ups. IMO now it's time to introduce a few other anti-abuse settings. My candidates are:

  - code execution on "scroll" events
  - CSS animations (web devs, your transitions are NEVER smooth, even of MBP)
  - position:fixed (auto-replace to position:static)

> position:fixed (auto-replace to position:static)

I've gotten pretty good results from a bookmarklet that converts `position: fixed` elements to `display: none`.

Here's mine:

    javascript:for (let e of document.querySelectorAll('*')) if (/fixed|sticky/.test(getComputedStyle(e).position)) e.style.position = 'static';
I use it so many times a day it's not even funny (it's in my bookmarks bar, keyed to ctrl-2). I think it removes (or obscures) an element that I wanted to see in hindsight, way less than 1% of the time. It would be nice if I could just tell the browser to just ignore the `fixed` or `sticky` position properties entirely.

Those are all really good ideas, and I've had some similar thoughts myself.

But, they won't be added to Firefox unless they are first added to Chrome, and they certainly won't be added to Chrome.

Firefox was I believe the first browser to include blocking of popups, and it was said to be irresponsible and harmful to advertisers. But the days of Firefox being at all disruptive are long over.

> Firefox was I believe the first browser to include blocking of popups

No it was Opera. Same for tabbed browsing (can you imagine not having that today? only spawning new windows?).

No, I don't want to chat with someone either.

So please stop beeping at me and popping up a chat modal.

You would be surprised at the number of chats e-commerce websites receive in a day.

One of our clients (selling clothes targeting 40+ women) had their sales almost double when we added in a simple livechat widget.

Since I discovered that they actually put helpful people behind those chats I've started to use them. Now I ask questions with all my online transactions. "How is the warranty? Do clients return this product a lot? Do you have any similar products to recommend me?", etc.

Yeh totally agree! I love the chat windows but its annoying when they pop up automatically.. That is just poor design.

And the beeps! I generally turn off all of the sound in my environment, and it's very distracting to hear a beep and try to figure out where it's from.

The worst is WPEngine. I already pay for their service, but whenever I look at an article on "How to do X", I hear beep!, and there's a sales chatbox in the corner.

I've taken to starting a chat, letting them know their site is annoying and I'll never use it again, and then closing the page.

I see this all the time on emerging startup apps and websites. Very annoying. It beeps and pops up and covers the bottom right side of the screen and sometimes covers up content. Worst still, it pops up 10 seconds after I arrived at their site when I haven't even begun to really dig into the information, so of course I don't have questions!

I think the chat boxes are wonderful idea; I've used them more than once to ask quick questions.

The beeping and popping up of some stock image with a 'nice' name is incredibly annoying though.

Chats that offer service are good.

Blame Intercom for this.

We use Intercom, but not on a site that's easily discoverable - our marketing folks reach out directly to potential clients.

But yes, I fucking loathe that little "plink" noise it makes. Please don't play sounds while I'm browsing.

Yes it's annoying but they work:

"sticking a big ole pop-up in their face can be one of the most effective ways to jolt their attention & grab their email for a return visit." Peep Laja. https://conversionxl.com/popup-defense/?hvid=2EcGFw

I'm in the newsletter business (and don't use these modals out of principle) and the folks I chat to about it confirm the same - they work really well.

But, I counter, so does spamming or making 10000s of automated phone calls.. and we've agreed those things are damaging and unethical - I agree with Dave, it's about time we as an industry considered full screen modals to be dirty and unwelcome.

Thanks for Node Weekly - that email plus a daily listserv archive of a local tech group are the only two emails I always read when they show up in my inbox.

It's about all user intent. Will you bring value? For you I'd advice experimenting with a pop-up when the user is about to leave. "A popup designed with exit-intent – in laymans terms it means that the popup only displays when you are about to leave the site." Results? "an increase of sign-ups by 600%. They went from typically 70-80 daily new subscribers to 445 – 470 new subs per day."

How would you go about detecting when a user is about to leave your site? Other than responding to a click on an external link? The two ways I typically leave a site are a) typing a URL into the address bar and b) closing a tab.

Well, if the user is like me then having just put up a big content-obscuring popup is an excellent sign that the user is about to leave.

Thanks for the answers, everyone. I was mostly curious to see if the technique was to pause the page unload or something when the user tried to go to a different site (a dark pattern, IMO). I don't personally object to the cursor location and page scrolling techniques mentioned here.

Watch for the mouse along the upper 10px of the window [0] or use of the [Ctrl] key (for Ctrl+L or Ctrl+W). Or as other said, for a threshold of upper/upper-left mouse movement.

You'll get a few false flags from people trying to Ctrl+C but so many people use the right-click context menu to copy/paste...you can probably ignore Ctrl+_ entirely and just focus on that window near the top. Most users will pass by that area when going to:

    1) Change to another tab
    2) Close the tab
    3) Type a new search/website in the Omnibar
[0] http://i.imgur.com/ihiAcHe.png

That's really irritating because you get false positives (not "false flag", that's something else entirely) whenever you go to change tabs with the mouse.

If somebody is interested in subscribing, then a subscribe box at the bottom or side of the content is fine.

Ah, too late to fix my mistake now. Just a little slip. :) Thanks for the correction. I know the difference of course, just had the wrong thing in my mind while typing!

>whenever you go to change tabs with the mouse.

Only fire the event once, as most people will be leaving. Not flipping between tabs.

>If somebody is interested in subscribing, then a subscribe box at the bottom or side of the content is fine.

Research and A/B tests say otherwise. I was sharing a popular method - I don't use it myself. I don't agree with it and I don't browse sites that make use of the annoying pop-up modals.

But the trade off of driving away some users to capture many more is one many people and companies would make.

Most people move to the left and up ;-) (Basically to the back button). See: http://optinmonster.com/how-it-works/ (WARNING: POP-UP! Ha ha

Scrolling up seems pretty popular. Why wouldn't you want a half-page menu telling you what to read next when you scroll up to check something?

Why would you? You're not scrolling up to get recommendations, you're scrolling up to re-read content.

Or at least, that's me. If I want to go back to navigation, I hit the Home key (the vast majority of systems do have one or two of them...). If I'm scrolling up, it's to read.

It's typically done when the user's mouse leaves the page.

onbeforeunload might get you there, but any site that uses that for any reason other than making sure I don't lose any unsaved changes is the devil.

If it comes up on exit-intent and doesn't steal focus, they don't seem that bad. An issue is that the triggering is worse on mobile and can be flaky if you're an advanced user (aka like you are on HN and you Ctrl+Click a bunch of links to open in new tabs and then read them in a batch) - those sort of behaviors can trip the exit intent prematurely.

The way I feel about it, if this is the compromise we've settled on, between users and marketers, I'm OK with it.

I'd much rather close an email-gathering overlay once on a new site, than get inundated with spam or junk calls.

(I say this as both a user and a marketer.)

Eh, in my experience spamming performs really poorly.

Whats the solution then? SEO crawlers to heavily penalise them?

Apparently Google already is for mobile contexts: http://searchengineland.com/interstitialgeddon-google-warns-...

>But, I counter, so does spamming or making 10000s of automated phone calls.

Spamming and automated phone calls are unsolicited. These popups are not. You are the one in control. You can avoid popups by not going to those sites.

That's not possible the first time I follow a link to a new site though.

I avoid sites like Forbes because of their weird splash pages but if it's something new what can you do apart from not return?

>but if it's something new what can you do apart from not return?

Not returning is what you can do.

I'm not saying it's not annoying. I'm saying lumping it with telemarketing is different. Telemarketing is annoying even when you do nothing. Whereas with these popups, if you do nothing, you will not get the popups.

The popups are not invading your space. You are going to their space.

Yeah but you build an audience of idiots. I've only ever read one newsletter at a time. How many high functioning adults are going to signup to learn about marketing or sales tactics from some random blog or software company.

Personally, as soon as I see a popup like that, I'm gone forever.

The blatant manipulation offends me so much that I have made a policy of closing such pages on sight. I will not close your popup, I will not interact with your popup, your site is dead to me.

At first, sure, but essentially you're training people to ignore you regardless of what you do. As advertisers are finding out, eventually someone will create a tool that allows people to ignore you online the way they would anywhere else in life.

The clear trend is just tuning out what you don't want to do deal with, from rantings about religion and politics, to someone trying to sell you shit.

For some definition of "work".

I think Google is fighting this by giving a lower rank to pages that do this[1].

[1]: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/helping-users-easi...

That's only for full screen takeover popups - and only for search engine traffic

It's not only for full-screen — slide-outs that block X amount of content will also be punished.

A lot of these popups specifically target based on various segments of Google keyword traffic. It's a good start.

Gotta love it when Google claims to fight for the small guy. They are more like one of those vengeful comic villains who turn into absolute batshit psychos if rubbed the wrong way. At least with actual comic villains, you know what you did to incite their murderous rage.

You cannot link out without thinking twice, you cannot get links in without worrying about consequences, you grow at exactly the pace that pleases the gods over at the google-plex, and better think twice before you do any guest blogging, and remember the 200 ranking factors at play, and finally, never, ever, ever get on their wrong side.

Oh, and to keep it more fun, just wait till you need to stand in line someday for their customer support. That is a whole another level of batshit psycho crazy.

Why, Thank you, Google. Without you, what will the poor little people of the world do?

These are also bad for accessibility reasons — they generally have a light gray "x" on a white background, which you have to hunt for if you want to dismiss the modal. For normally-sighted individuals, this is a hassle. For people with low vision or motor impairments (e.g. Parkinson's or other tremors), this creates a much bigger problem.

Some have Aria and actually dismiss with ESC. It's rare

It used to be much more common until FE devs figured out how to stop it.

This battle will never be won by those who oppose the pop-ups. The reason? They work.

If you put one on your site the metrics show a definite upturn in conversion, be it sales or sign-ups or whatever you're pushing. Then you take it down for awhile maybe, then you put it back up with something different and you get the upturn again.

I personally despise them with every bone in my body, but I don't see them ever going away.

They work and some people really find them useful.

Some time ago I've noticed that a few of my friends really enjoy going through newsletter emails and finding out about items that are on sale etc. They wouldn't necessarily look for a newsletter signup form on a website, but when a popup appears something clicks in their brains ("OMG, I really need this!") and they sign up.

I don't like these popups but well, most of the time I'm just not their target.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that there were times when I actually got converted by a popup.

When you think of that, if it offers something that's useful to you, clicking on it feels so natural and you don't analyze it too much.

The same can be said for Adverts. They work, but they become less effective as time goes by. In order to get the same income, they have to be more intrusive, using more bandwidth, etc. That's why ad blockers are becoming steadily more popular.

I hope that soon enough a popup blocker will become available that solves the irritation of popups too.

I'm not too annoyed by modals but I'm sick and tired of websites whose content shifts around due to inline ads loading.

It's very frustrating when you're trying to read something and the page keeps changing its layout for 10 seconds, especially on a mobile device where you can accidentally click on a link or ad pretty easily. Makes me wonder if they do this on purpose...

Instead of asking "Do you want to participate ..." ask one relevant question that actually has some value for you. And put one field for entering free information. If I'm in the mood, I could actually help you to develop your business/web site by providing some highly insightful information.

Can't see any value in these questionnaires, since the population who answers to them must be highly biased. If you spend many hours per day on web, there's probably a dedicated section in your brains scanning for clickable [X], "No thank you", "Close" entities on the view and giving direct commands to your mouse hand.

That would be kinda funny - a modal pop-over to ask a single question: What would you improve about this website?

"Get rid of that annoying modal pop-over."

Placing the newsletter signup form at the bottom of the articles on my site is my preferred method. Only engaged readers get there, and those are the people I want subscribing. Adding double opt-in also weeds out mistaken subscribers.

Publishers should approach everything from the point of view of a person on the street: if it wouldn’t be acceptable in real life, WHY is it acceptable online!?

The equivalent of a pop-up newsletter modal is somebody on the street PULLING you aside, standing directly in front of you and preventing you from going any further until you answer their question. All without bothering to observe what you were doing beforehand. Your choice then is to step back the way you came to avoid the creepy sidewalk-blocking people. Ridiculous, creepy and unacceptable in real life but essentially exactly how web sites treat their visitors.

> Why is it acceptable online?

I agree with you, it's not acceptable (and that is an excellent analogy). Aren't content consumers also to blame here as well though? Viewers put up with it anyway. I'm surprised by top google search results that bring up click-bait junk that requires waiting for a page-full of ads to load and then requires that you click through 10 more pages before you even get to all the information you needed. I think this is an indication that the majority of people are willing to put up with it because otherwise those sites would have a high bounce-back rates and wouldn't have ranked so high.

Edit: I actually read the article and the author makes this point better than I could:

> The only solution is to unite in changing our behavior. We need to give website operators an ultimatum: Remove the modals, or we leave. And we need to make good on that promise. By closing the browser tab, we can let the bounce rate demand what we as users cannot.

You mean like a bouncer checking IDs at the bar? If I don't want to give my ID to a stranger, then I just don't visit that bar, or find one with more lax security..

I don't think those have much in common. You know the bouncer just wants to see your ID and won't bother you after that. They're not trying to push you into signing up for an annoying newsletter you don't care about or to buy something you don't want.

Also, in many states, just looking like or actually being over 21 isn't good enough. The liquor license people require that every person in the bar or drinking be able to prove with a valid ID that they're over 21, no matter how old they look or actually are. They're not checking that you're over 21; they're checking that you have a valid ID on you that proves you're over 21, because they get in trouble if you don't.

Those are different situations, bars have a legal obligation to prevent people under 21 from entering or they have to ID everyone buying alcohol.

Yes, but some are obnoxious and card everyone, others card only people who look like teenagers. Some have armed security that pats you down, other's have no guards or bouncers.

I'd personally rather spend my free time at a business that doesn't harass me, so when it's up to me I go to more chill bars.

My point being, this behaviour happens in real life too... and some people would rather go to bars that have high-security, dot their Is and cross their Ts. But ultimately the choice is up to both the business and consumer, it doesn't have anything to do with being acceptable or not.

I don't think the street analogy is accurate; it's more like having someone at the door of every store you go into asking for your phone number as you walk in.

> it's more like having someone at the door of every store you go into asking for your phone number as you walk in.

Which is exactly what many stores do, except on the way out (at the register.) They also tend to get pretty annoyed at you when you say "no thanks" to providing a number.

I haven't had store employees get annoyed when I say no in years. I say "can I just skip that?" and it's always "sure no problem."

Years ago I remember it being much worse (especially at Radio Shack!). Employees would have to do stuff like enter a fake phone number because the system often didn't have any bypass mechanism etc, so I can understand their annoyance. I recall aborting one sale out of principle when neither of us would budge. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the playbook the store clerk was supposed to be following but oh well!

Is that a USA thing? I've never seen such behavior in my life.

> I've never seen such behavior in my life.

Which behavior, the asking for phone numbers or the getting annoyed?

Many major chains in the US have some sort of "loyalty" program that requires a phone number, email address, or both.

As for the getting annoyed, I've gotten countless eyerolls and a few snide comments when I've politely declined to give a phone number.

It was a thing at Radio Shack while they were in their death throes. Then they made a big deal about not doing that anymore.

(202) 867-5309

Yes, I want to subscribe to your newsletter!

Automatically with a browser plugin, with an address that will even accept your mails. Unfortunately no human will read them in the end, but I'm sure your metrics will be great. I might even accept a cookie so you know I'm already subscribed to your great newsletter.

Now if everybody were to do that...

Just imagine a plugin that searches the page for emails and subscribes their email to themselves.

PS, when forced to give an email (like 5 min ago for this Wifi) just use @mailinator.com with anything prepended.

Well filtering out their own domains or big anonmailers or fakes is not that hard, so it's best if the address is not distinguishable from someone who is just really bad at reading their mail.

Of course they will then begin to make automated sign ups harder, maybe with captchas or confirmation links etc. which will also discourage real users and maybe kill this concept in the long run.

I never heard of this one; pretty neat!

That would be an great app. The user could globally set their fake name and email address -- for example I'd use my old Yahoo mail that I keep for spam storage... in the cloud(tm)!!! The app could query and update a central store of signup sequences for known sites (the names & order of the fields to supply, or even a sequence of fake keystrokes to send when the time comes, kind of like KeePass's auto-type feature).

Would admin@spamcop.net be more effective?

What browser plugin do you use?

Just saying I want to, I'm not actually doing it. I hope somebody develops such a plugin now so we can fill their pretty little mailing lists with all the millions of subscribers they want and deserve.

Shoot, I didn't pick up on that and got my hopes up!

I usually subscribe postmaster@(domain) to the newsletter as RFC822 requires the account to be active ;)

I doubt it's actually active on most domains even though the RFC asks for it to be so. I would even guess that admin@(domain) might be more effective. Just a guess on my part though.

My initial thought is that signing up abuse@(domain) would be a clever irony. My next thought is that abusing the abuse inbox is probably a dick move to the sysadmin who's job it is to keep things working.

My default action with these popovers is to Cmd+Opt+C to trigger DevTools Select Element feature, click on the modal background div and just delete it from DOM. Most of the times quicker than hunting for the small X button somewhere.

I'm not sure the headline succinctly conveys the prime message of the article, which is that modals have replaced pop-ups as a nuisance.

In general, I agree. My reaction to most modals is to simply close the tab. Often it's halfway through an article. I can't be bothered to finish it if I'm being interrupted rudely.

I started just closing the tab if a site thinks I want to signup before reading the content. If sites are do desperate for the quick fix, I do not expect them to have good content below that modal dialog.

Two step process here:

1) Subscribe "abuse@(sitedomain)" to the newsletter. I don't know if anyone still uses that convention but it reduces my frustration.

2) Add the site to my ad blocker blacklist so I don't waste my time by visiting again.

Why can't we just agree to do away with popup windows/overlays altogether? Then this kind of thing would be harder, and hacking a workaround would be more obviously bad practice.

Software interfaces are becoming common even in car consoles and heavy equipment. Bad UI is moving from annoying to life threatening.

'9' != 'yes'

Is a life threatening inequality if the '9' on a phone keypad, and the 'yes' is the confirmation of a popup. Are you calling 911 or agreeing to upgrade the os? Dramatically different intents yet indistinguishable if they should occur at the same time.

Popops are perhaps one of the best known examples of user hostile GUI patterns. Popups induce 'mode errors' and violate user security and safety by redirecting input at random and potentially critical moments of user interactions. We've known for a very long time, perhaps since the 90s that the correct way to notify a user must not assume user awareness and must not steal focus. Notifications should be added to a list that can be reviewed buy the user at any time. Never steel focus, never obscure users activity, never assume you have the users full attention or or mental capacity to make choices. The time for such considerations must be chosen by the user.

Good thing we replaced those annoying Flash banners with javascript </irony>

Old guys like me saw this coming from miles away, it's just history repeating itself.

To give you all a heads-up: in the future browsers will ask you "This site wants to open a new javascript dialog. Show/block"

Of course, not that simple.

In the future, every other website will ship their own rendering engine (from some big CDN, of course) that prohibits you from messing with their precious spam. Heck, I honestly do expect some startups doing just this kind of "innovation" as soon as WebAssembly gets slightly more polished and cross-browser, so probably just another year or two from now.

(That shit will be fought with AI/ML nextgen ad-blockers, that would try to "see" what that positioned <div> is - a spammy modal or some legit navigation sidebar... and I don't dare to think any further, as we approach the singularity.)

After that, only text will be allowed. The coolest feature of HTML7 will be the <blink> text. ;)

From the perspective of crowdfunding

1. The crowdfunding sites themselves maintain HUGE newsletter lists and use very advanced analytics to determine what to place in those newsletters.

2. For campaigners, the size and activity of your email list is a huge factor in determining your campaign success. Just like this web tool https://www.thunderclap.it/about sending a direct email blast to a good list can mean the difference of a successful hard launch and campaign, or a lackluster or failed campaign. The email lists of the sites themselves which feature several campaigns, are hugely influential on campaign success, and in my experience has at least once lead to the production of 4x our total raise goal in a single platform newsletter feature of our campaign.

Sometimes people do want to be notified. Newsletters are something of a different issue, but the case above seems like a newsletter to me. Especially because we used our first campaign backers + second campaign + interest landing pages and social media gathering email campaigns to continually send emails about new campaigns and products.

Essentially therefore I'm arguing, the ability to gather a quality, targeted email list and generate a recurring newsletter without a 10%+ attrition rate [1] is both difficult and valuable.

[1] CANSPAM compliance requires unsubscribe link, my personal interpretation is 1-click unsubscribe should be the rule, no loading email setting pages behind login walls. Good design is honest. Crowdfunding requiring physical good production in quantity is very difficult for the uninitiated. And then it remains difficult, time consumer over time, and requires constant attention. This is essentially scaling issues but in the physical world. So many of the failed to deliver crowdfunded projects are not so much dishonest as naive, but also consider Jobs' thoughts on the subject

> great artists ship

though Dieter Rams (most famous living Industrial Designer) says

> designers are not fine artists who we are often confused for

> Just like this web tool https://www.thunderclap.it/about

This is not a "web tool", this is a spam tool.

> Sometimes people do want to be notified.

No they don't.

> Essentially therefore I'm arguing, the ability to gather a quality, targeted email list and generate a recurring newsletter without a 10%+ attrition rate [1] is both difficult and valuable.

The web is a beautiful dream. It's being destroyed by people that talk about "attrition rates" and "targeted whatever".


> > Just like this web tool [redacted]

> This is not a "web tool", this is a spam tool.

So let's not put the link in as many threads as possible!

I'm sorry but calling said tool "spam" is hyperbole to the point of factual incorrectness. Furthermore, this said tool is recommended by Indiegogo's Field Guide, a direct publication of Indiegogo.com, the world's second largest Crowdfunding Platform. I suggest you re-evaluate your fallacious assertion.

Aside: You seem very argumentatively aggressive in your comments. Is that serving you or those you're communicating with?

> I'm sorry but calling said tool "spam" is hyperbole to the point of factual incorrectness.

The first sentence from Wikipedia on "spamming" is:

"Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send an unsolicited message (spam), especially advertising, as well as sending messages repeatedly on the same site."

Do you disagree with this definition?

> Furthermore, this said tool is recommended by Indiegogo's Field Guide, a direct publication of Indiegogo.com, the world's second largest Crowdfunding Platform.

I have nothing against Indiegogo, but it's not very hard to figure out that they have a vested interest in their users spreading their crowdfunding campaigns as far and wide as possible -- they make money if they get funded and they get free advertisement as a side-effect. Why should I care what they think about this issue?

> Aside: You seem very argumentatively aggressive in your comments. Is that serving you or those you're communicating with?


The author isn't opposed to newsletters at all, they're opposed to newsletter popups.

I've implemented these as well, they're not my favorite and it wasn't my decision to add them. However, after a certain point, for those popups which only appear after engaging with the content, there is some validity to the idea of this as a form of progressive signup/engagement.

Second, newsletter popups, with exceptions such as {Pinterest; Quora; Cook's Illustrated} these popups are not a pay-wall.

The better criticism is of the poor interaction design of such systems that don't treat any click outside of the modal as a modal exit command.

In Firefox, right click on popups and bring up "Inspect Element". Then find the top level element of the popup in the inspector, and Delete Node. The modal disappears. This even bypasses some paywalls. Some sites won't then scroll, though.

An add-on to dismiss modals should be possible. Most people do ad-removal add-ons by looking for explicit HTML text, but there are more general approaches. Look for a big box that has a high Z index. That's the modal. Then proceed up the tree until you rejoin with the main document text. Delete the subtree with the modal. Then force scrolling behavior to return to the default.

Do you know of a way, say in the JavaScript console (I'm guessing?), to reset scroll behaviors? I'm not clever enough with JS or CSS to have figured it out. Deleting the modal using the inspector is what I do but I can't get around the scrolling...

This will solve the problem for you on most sites:

document.getElementsByTagName('html')[0].style.overflow = "scroll";

The css property you're looking for is "overflow," usually on the body or html tag.

Thank you, I didn't know the property name and it wasn't obvious (to me). :)

I tried that on a page. The scroll bars reappeared, but were not draggable. Trying to drag them activated some mechanism which scrolled part of the screen.

It may also be necessary to remove event listeners.

Hiding the element doesn't work in more than half the cases. Some plug-ins randomize the modal ids. Others hide the page scollbar unless you interact with the modal.

> This is because there is no single implementation of modal windows. Many are custom-built.

Actually, 90% are from the same few plugins. Unfortunately, those plugs are designed with dark patterns to prevent Element Hiding Helper or Element picker from removing anything from that domain.

Some use use randomized IDs each page creation. The worst offenders remove the page scrollbar during the modal so even if you can hide the modal, you can no longer any pages on that site.

Just hit the back button when this happens.

A website covering its content with trash is a good indicator that the content wasn't worth spending your time on in the first place.

They wont do that. They feel entitled to the content. They feel entitled to someone else's work for free but only in the format they demand.

NoScript unless they earn the privilege of executing code. I wish whatever spec would have covered the concern had stated script execution MUST prompt the user.

Disabling Javascript has singlehandedly fixed several annoyances I had, even with ad blocking. No more tabs draining my battery (ok, css animations are still a problem), no more things jumping around, no more page popups, no more Intercom chat windows from people eager to talk to me, no more 3rd party crap Javascript tracking me (ublock prevented them already, but it's nice to know there's no way they can bypass adblock). Things load and render fast.

Some pages still require Javascript, and SSO is usually a pain, but for those cases I have a Chrome profile with Javascript enabled and a simple Hammerspoon script that launches that profile in incognito mode for the url I have on my clipboard.

Oh, and Gmail basic html mode is so snappy!

It seems like every HN thread about a "web annoyance" ends up with a comment extolling the virtues of NoScript. I don't surf the web without it!

Yes, that's also the way I browse the web since a few years. Otherwise it's a pain to use the web today.

I'm irrationally annoyed by these popovers to the extent that I'm tempted to just start locally blocking every site that has them. Just need a handy button to add the domain of whatever page I'm viewing to hosts.deny and preferably fire off an email to the site's admin telling them I prefer never visiting their site again to having to be subjected to their method of promotion.

It's interesting how most of the solutions here surround just blacklisting those websites, removing them entirely like ad blocks do with ads. I'd like to point out in a lot of cases we visit those websites not because there are 20 other sites with the same content, but because we care about their content! That's why we're there. Or if there are other sites with similar content we haven't found them yet and/or that would require additional expenditure of time/energy to do so. So I'm not so sure why this is a highly shared solution here.

I also think we have to differentiate between behavior that is user action based vs. default case. Pop ups were stopped by browsers because they were triggered on page load for example, it was an action that should have produced a deterministic outcome. If part of a page that is not tied to a user action is blocked that is a passively executed scenario and can be used arbitrarily to censor anything by anyone and that's not a place we should move to.

I do agree with the article, but sites continue to ask me for stuff, what I do, is fake data, nothing is painful than that.

The full-screen modal-with-windowshade newsletter prompts are super annoying. But I realize bloggers will always want to "expand their reach," to use the distasteful marketing term. I'd much prefer the prompted blinded in from the side quickly, or ideally, appeared in the site's sidebar. I'm guessing they're used everywhere because you could drop in a code snippet to do everything for you, and a vast majority of code snippets are the "in your face windowshade" variety.

I don't know what to do about this situation other than to write my own paste-in package for newsletter signups, which I don't really have time for. I guess the best thing I can do is announce: if your newsletter prompt doesn't cover the main content of the page, I'm much more likely to subscribe (~20%) than if it's a modal + windowshade (0%).

I'd sort of be okay with them if they appeared immediately and were easy to get rid of. But with them it takes me a minute to reach the content (page load time included, which is about 30 seconds on average for me nowadays with modern websites on a 16mbits ADSL connection).

How about extension with some kind of machine learning? You know, all 4 borders and all 4 corners going dark w/o user interaction. At the same time some kind of form input appear at highest z-index.

Extension would delete that DOM subtree rightaway. + some kind of cloud harvest from users reporting false-positives.

Sure, but how do you do that in a way that can't be circumvented? Alice creates a page with a newsletter popup, then Bob installs a plugin with a MutationObserver [0], so Alice just adds some code to disable any such MutationObservers.

Plus how do you determine when it's an unwanted modal? You don't want to block the login popup, for example. Maybe you can block all modals except for the ones generated from a "click" event, but what if the site sets a "click" listener on the <body> tag?

[0] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/MutationObs...

Lots of predictable complaining. OTOH, email marketing works pretty well with 'average folks', or it did in the past. So: maybe avoid it on your geek oriented site, but on something meant for regular people, it might work well.

To put a finer point on it, no, I'm not too dumb to find a regular ordinary signup link somewhere when I'm interested, and no, I didn't accidentally forget to click yours. Face it, website, I'm just not that into you!

Anybody know an FTC commisioner's email address? I've always thought it would be funny to put that into every subscription nag I see. (The FTC is in charge of enforcing US spam laws.)

This is why Google needs to start penalising lightboxes.

How about cookie policy popups/notifications/extra-top -bar? It's getting increasingly annoying to browse the Web. Basically you have to close some signup modal, cookie warning, chat head before you can start reading the content only to get another blocking modal right after scrolling - which will 'kindly' ask you to disable ad blocker... It's getting better and better!

At least with the Brexit, we'll hopefully stop seeing them on UK sites.

I run a newsletter biz and avoid all these gimmicks. Real attention is what matters not phony metrics - even if attention is hard to measure.

I have to try with having special gmail e-mail address and set every mail that gets there as spam.

If more people would do this they could penalize the host.

Since we're talking about ads and such, has anyone tried AdNauseam [0]? It's an extension based on uBlock that clicks ALL ad links in the background. I find the idea fascinating because flooding my ad profile with random noise sounds appealing.

[0]: https://adnauseam.io/

I would be quite content if the Web became something more akin to a "Reception", i.e. that there was the opportunity to meet/chat with a Real Human, instead of automated software.

Is it not true that automatic things are better when experienced at the hands of a human, than a machine? I think this factor is at play here ..

I think the OP here hit the nail on the head: if you don't like it, leave. He has no right to demand a web property owner appease his every whim. The owner has every right to have modals on their site. Just like Walmart has every (legal) right to mistreat their employees. So I don't shop there.

> The only solution is to unite in changing our behavior. We need to give website operators an ultimatum: Remove the modals, or we leave.

Firstly: most of these modals only show up on exit intent and only once per ~90 days (if you allow cookies), so this ultimatum is fairly hollow.

Secondly: do you value your pageview so highly that you think web publishers must respond to your demands? Are you paying these sites for their content/whatever else you're looking at? If not, then maybe clicking out of a modal once per 90 days is a fair price to pay for whatever it is that you're looking at.

Thirdly: as you mention, the reason these modals are all over the place is that they work. Fortunately, all highly-effective marketing tactics get repeated perpetually until consumers become immune to them...that will surely happen here, you might just need to wait a bit longer.

should note that, like @petecooper below/above, I'm in the newsletter business and don't use these modals. But I also see no reason why people who want to use them shouldn't use them

Why don't adblockers work on these? Don't they just block elements based on CSS selectors? If so, why can't we collect a database of CSS selectors for the top 1000 sites, CSS classes used by popular modal popup libraries, etc.?

You can suspend the modal pop ups, at least the majority of them, by detecting if they use Bootstrap or Foundation and add CSS code to take over the modal classes from those libraries. Most sites use one of those two framworks anyway.

I give the forms junk data now to make it expensive for them to maintain. I only ever hit the form once, but I have heard of people writing bots to hammer these forms in the realm of hundreds or thousands of submissions.

> The only solution is to unite in changing our behavior. We need to give website operators an ultimatum: Remove the modals, or we leave

Another solution is to have ad blockers also block modals, like there is to be for popups

The article explains why that's nontrivial.

Old Opera browser used to have a button to disable CSS that would return page to a readable state. Also it was helpful on websites with white-on-black color scheme.

CSS `display: none` works a surprising amount of the time with those pesky overlays, unless they're using their backend to govern access.

Why I don't want to become a member or join your newsletter? Because some asshole is going to hack it and steal my information!

This problem also exists on YouTube channels. It's when the YouTuber is asking to subscribe at the end of his/her videos.

Do you really feel so entitled that you're upset at a person asking for support at the end of a video?

A post against modal windows usability that contains a link to a site that use one, that's incoherent.

...and no, I don't want to log into your walled garden Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I run a whois on the domain and enter the technical contact in the subscribe box.

I wish popup-/ad-blockers would start picking up these modal popups as well.

If a modal box asks me to subscribe to a newsletter, I use legal@{website}

Another good use case for spam blockers. They work wonderfully for this.

first I hated those popups, but then I turned it into a funny game -- in every popup which asks for email I fill in email address like "f*ck-off@this-popup.com" :)

Author linked to the i hate popup modals tumblr, where I was confronted with a (subtler than most, granted) popup. http://pasteall.org/pic/show.php?id=113889


Please leave out threats like this from comments, even if they're made rhetorically; they're not part of a civil and substantive discussion.

Is this a No Ontological Inertia[0] thing, where destroying the creator also destroys the creations?

[0] http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoOntologicalIner...

Seems a bit disproportionate. Hoe about finding out what kind of car they drive (assuming they drive) and what the license plate is, then setting a bounty for proof of newsletter ad stickers slapped on that car's windshield when it's parked at streetlights etc?

If you don't want to see my pop up asking you to subscribe to my newsletter after you've scrolled through half the article I wrote (that you have shown to be interested) then you are free to leave and not come back. Deal.

And I often do, thanks for the invitation.

On the other hand, if there's a non-popup at the end of post that asks for my email address, and if I liked the content and think more would be useful ... I'll provide it.

There’s no keyboard shortcut you can use to get rid of them.

Sure there is:

  1. Alt-F4
  2. Ctrl-Alt-Del

I've found that many of them respond to ESC, probably for accessibility reasons.

It's almost become a reflex when the page suddenly goes dim to thwack the key before whatever garbage they decided to shove in my face finishes loading.

That's nice when you are on a web browser designed for desktop use, but that recourse is never present on mobile, which is where I encounter a large majority of modals.

It's doubly annoying when you have to press that tiny little X with sausage fingers like mine. Not to mention when they are coded to only display an image of an X rather than an actual close link and you get redirected anyways.

I hate these thing with a burning passion.

back button works :)

    2. CMD-W
    4. CMD-Q

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