The old Reddit hosted a large variety of communities with each subreddit having its own distinct layout and color scheme. These diversities and distinctions were a main feature. All hosted subreddits retained their identities and acted as community forums where people bolstered their interests and had productive interactions.
The Redesign made a huge departure from this, however, and introduced standardized layouts and made the site feel as close to conventional social networking sites as possible.
It can be easily seen in the design decisions. Before the redesign, Reddit had paginated content and users at most used to browse one or two of the front pages to keep up and engage with trends. Now, it has a never-ending feed where users just keep scrolling indefinitely and waste time. They've just taken a page from Facebook and Twitter's books and made it an addictive train of mindless consumption instead of diverging from conventional social networks.
Not only did the redesign hide all that from most browsers, but Reddit seems hostile now to the idea of providing some small stable collection of information for users to consult first. It wants people to keep asking the same questions over and over again, because that means engagement. If you are a moderator who deletes repetitive questions or low-effort posts and refers the poster to a FAQ, you might get ousted as mod by higher-ups on Reddit for being against the spirit of the modern site.
Yes! I think this is one of the elements that many people miss from the old web, it might be "uglier" but much more genuine, I'm thinking about MySpace, imagine how would it look if it was designed today, probably as the change in Reddit you are describing.
Edit: Another memory that comes is Winamp's skins, compared with today's Spotify, Apple music apps, I know is not an orange to oranges comparison... but it's on the same trend.
Anybody interested in being a co-founder? ;-)
I'm interested in keeping this meme going (in the direction of the original article).
Anyone else jumping on the bandwagon? Don't miss out -- this could be the next coinbase thread.
I would feel bad, but I was the person who seems to have coined the term earlier in this thread, albeit accidentally :-)
> can't get addicted to
That would also mean not having dopamine injectors like Upvote, Like, Share etc. But these also serve as an important function as a feedback tool.
As an experiment I removed public display of vote points from my problem validation platform which is themed on HN. Only the owner of the post, comment can see their points.
Apart from removing herd influence from the voting, I feel this has greatly reduced overall negativity i.e. especially discouraging someone from posting their problem however small or silly others might feel it to be.
What are the other possible dopamine-inhibitor changes for UI, which can let the users receive feedback without much friction?
in reference to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captology
I had this realization as a senior in college, and it's the reason I never went into game design. I knew too many dropouts for whom gaming was part of the equation.
I found it really interesting as someone that struggled with video games previously. I don't currently struggle with them (though if I had the right desk setup I probably would have a hard time staying away from them still), but certainly there are always other things that take their place. I was kind of floored to realize that I can actually focus really intently on a video game, and thus I do possess the ability to focus despite my difficulties to do so on boring work tasks.
Maybe you'll find something interesting, inspiring, or thought-provoking within it: https://www.deprocrastination.co/blog/play-the-ultimate-game...
My experience is that addiction to sites like HN is built more on fearof facing up to some other part of your life.
I really hoped that Jane McGonigal was onto something big when she started trying to put these dark patterns to positive use, but it seems to have fizzled. Sometimes it takes a couple of hype cycles for a good idea to stick. Fingers crossed.
A killer anti-design feature for a place like Hacker News would be to limit how many links and comments get posted every hour or day. Which would have me reloading less often, which would - accomplish the goal of me spending less time here, I guess?
But seriously, the thing most likely to keep me from infinite scrolling or reloading is to have a roommate or live-in significant other.
And I wish it was as easy as just having fewer links on HN. I'd just go to Reddit instead.
The imoortant stories tend to resurface and lurk on reddit too.
I love this simplicity about hackernews. Try that on google, twitter, reddit, instagram and you'll see html elements with classes like "_9AhH0" that change daily, and I'm not exaggerating.
I haven't used the feature, so I'm not sure quite what it does.
Our brains aren't built for constant stimulation like that. Every step back I've made from social apps has been a positive one for my mental health. I was amazed at how much my anxiety dropped when I deleted the reddit app, for instance.
I've recently read a fair number of interviews/comments from people who helped create the original social apps, and it's really interesting how many of them regret it. I don't necessarily mean the founders who cashed out, I mean as one example the software engineer (whose name I forget) who was one of those primarily responsible for the first implementation of the Like button on Facebook. The great irony of social networking is that as its use has increased, our self-reported levels of isolation and feelings of loneliness have skyrocketed. It's accomplished exactly the opposite of its stated mission, and I can't help but feel the whole enterprise is a net negative.
Aza Raskin, creator of "infinite scroll": https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/i-m-so-sorry-says-invento...
Ditto except for email.
> I was amazed at how much my anxiety dropped when I deleted the reddit app, for instance.
Well, instant-messaging still has its contribution to anxiety. If it's urgent then call me, otherwise email me. (Not that I abide by this principle myself...)
Unfortunately, to many people have started using social networks / instant-messaging apps as alternatives for mailing lists.
Infinite Scroll on Desktop Only
Added benefit for me would be that when I'm on my desktop I usually have the goal of getting work done, and infinite scrolling conflicts with guilt of not working. So less infinite scrolling.
It's not a global anti-design feature, since it's still possible to use the app for many hours. But the app allows the user to pre-commit to reading a mix of news, since it isn't possible to just read news from one side in the app. 
If my news all comes from huffpost and breitbart, I won't be more informed than someone who just reads the New York Times, just angrier and disaffected.
I write code now however I was a private yacht chef in a past career. I can make food that makes people high -- its a drug. When I started with yacht charters with 8 - 12 guests for a week or 10 days cruising the Exumas or BVIs and the guests were rude to me I responded by cooking the best food they ever tasted day in and day out knowing that they wouldn't be able to stop eating. If you are an asshole, you will eat the best tasting food on Earth. "Diplomacy is telling someone to go to hell and make them look forward to the trip."
On the flip side, I started working on private, not charter, yachts for a couple different families whom a decade later I still speak with. They, however, didn't eat as well. The dishes were a lot more wholesome and plain. The whole reason I started coding was because I was in the middle of the ocean bobbing around spending only 3 hours a day working, cooking for guests and crew and started hacking on my laptop on the galley table looking for something to do to stave off bordom which we all know causes mutiny on ships. Nobody can eat restaurant style food breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It causes people to be fat, heart disease, and diabetes. Of course, for special occasions, anniversaries, birthdays, or the owners want me to show off for a night to their guests I would use the skills I developed working years in in 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants, however, the rest of the time, we would all * take a break * from eating fancy food. Sometimes I'd kick of the owners off the boat sending them to a restaurant for the night but they preferred my simple dishes where ever we went. It is appreciated.
When I started with charters at the beginning working on yachts I was instructed to provide multi course restaurant food. On my first charter a guest said they love the food however seeing the fish sandwich I prepared for the crew asked if they could just eat the same things they saw me serving the crew. It is a hard pill for a chef to swallow that people don't want fancy stuff all the time. What is my purpose? To pass the butter? That moment forth I cooked the same things for guests and crew accept for when people are assholes. A lot of chefs are insecure if they aren't doing restaurant style food. I'm lucky that I have already proven myself so I don't have to anymore. It became the dumbest easiest job ever with the hardest part having to catch dinner first.
But, yeah, I get how it is healthy to take a break.
Yeah, welcome to the club, pal.
(For those who didn't get the reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e0CD3fvLp0)
I've eaten fish in multiple restaurants of varying quality over the years, with some really really good ones in there. However my favorite fish dish is still a "Backfischbrötchen" (German word for a fried fish sandwich with remoulade, leaf of lettuce, some cucumber/tomato/onion slices), just the smell of which makes my mouth water every time I pass the moored cutters/fishing boats in my home town's harbor.
Regarding games, there's such a thing as "too fun" and game publishers know it. There's a blurry line you cross beyond which lies exploitation, and publishers passed that line a long time ago. It's all about the monetization strategy. When I was younger I was a big fan of alternative monetization schemes like game demos, and often wondered what would happen if sites like PopCap would charge microtransactions like some sort of semi-free arcade. Well now I know the answer, and it's gaming hell.
I think a few things:
- Publishers are unethical for behaving this way
- We can't expect publishers to fix this for us
If we choose to fix it, it's up to us. App stores, by taking a cut, are disincentivized from taking action.
One approach might be a standards body focused on the treatment of the player, with a seal of approval that's front and center for parents and mindful players to see. If the rules are clear and concise and the effort is well-organized it should be trivial to get participation from indie titles and move up from there.
I glanced at ethicalgames.org and noticed a lot of concern with corporate doings. While this is important I think it would dilute the intent here: to discourage exploitation of the end user.
While I get the point, this is a dangerous precedent to set. We are the final arbiter of what we do, this cannot be forgotten or thrown away. People do bear responsibility for their own actions, all of them.
While that is true, decision overload is also true: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2017-03-15/...
It takes mental effort (and hence energy) to resist temptation. We only have a limited amount of mental energy to spend each day. How much energy is highly dependent on each individual's situation, but it's not infinite. The more energy we are forced to spend on worthless distractions, the less energy we have left to make decisions that do matter and can meaningfully change our lives.
Acting like it's ok to be abusive and coercive to people "because they bear responsibility for their own actions" is a more dangerous precedent to set, in my opinion.
- radio ads
- FB groups
- sponsoring events for singles groups at churches and other religious orgs
- targeted postal ads
- invite codes with rewards
- hiring local influencers
- hiring ppl to hand out flyers at community colleges and at events
- sponsoring events for college clubs
- cinema pre-roll ads
I've had trouble finding reliable data on the cost effectiveness of these different methods. I expect to waste about $10,000 on trial-and-error before finding out what works.
What do you think? Do you have any ideas to add to the list?
I think more targeted niche areas might be better - gay guys dating, fetish specific dating, religion specific dating etc.
$10,000 won't get you far in SF Bay Area imo. Cinema pre-roll ads are very expensive. Also, since this post is about ethical anti-design, you might end up going in the unethical territory to make your money back based on how much money is required to be spent.
Sorry for being negative Nancy.
Also, why do you think it would be cheaper to market to a niche?
I expect that launching in the SF area will be easy for two reasons:
1. The area has a lot of people with extra money who already use dating apps.
2. A lot of people in the area like to try new apps.
I'm saving SF until the app is more polished. I don't want to tarnish the brand here.
Friction is a very well-understood tool in the designers toolkit. The key question is whether its added in places that are beneficial to the user.
Think of a 2x2 of user benefit x company benefit.
1. Benefits both user & company ex: GitHub's 'Danger Zone'
2. Benefits company but not user ex: difficult unsubscribe flows
3. Benefits user but not company ex: 'ethical' designs like stopping addictive behavior
4. Benefits neither: this is just bad design
The key is to create a movement to get people to do more of 3 and less of 2, and that's well underway with stuff like what Center for Humane Technology is doing. I don't think we should call that field 'anti-design' though. Instead, much like many engineering fields that bake in professional ethics into their work, we should frame it exactly opposite: the pinnacle of good design.
This seems like an unbacked assertion.
Cynically, the fediverse lives and dies with its userbase. If nobody's using it, it will die. If everyone is using it, it will grow and prosper.
Thus, the Fediverse too, as a matter of survival, has to incentivize people to use it. Cynically speaking: in the early phases, it's vital to enslave people's brains to produce content.
What njms is advocating here is effectively User-Centred Design (aka "Human Centred Design"). It has an ISO standard: https://www.iso.org/standard/52075.html
I was a Psychology undergrad in the 1990s and I was taught about this stuff way back then. It is sad that design has fallen so far from this standard.
One rule of thumb that I have when I'm making games is to avoid tie-ins to external ecosystems where it's not necessary - that the reason to play a game should come from the game itself.
I know someone who had a game that was well-liked on kongregate (flash games portal), and at some point they did a tie in where you could unlock cards for the the kongregate collectable card game by getting certain achievements in said game. The developer got a giant spike of hate as people forced themselves to get these pretty difficult achievements in a game that brought them no joy so they could do something else.
And I also, I guess don't mind so much if people don't like my games/bounce off them. That's ok. And if I find myself pulling tricks to keep their attention longer than the core gameplay can, then I take a step back and reevaluate what I'm doing. Many of my favourite games I never finished (some of the zachtronics ones got a bit too tricky and I dropped out, but never without a smile on my face) - I was happy to play them until I bounced. It's ok for engagement to come to an end - one doesn't need to trap people in loops.
But there's an aesthetic pleasure to be got from being trapped in a loop, and maybe you might need to trap people long enough for them to get into the meat of the game, but I'm a lot more wary about that than most I've found.
Re the article itself: I'd say clicking the 'next' button is a traumatising experience when it results in a several second load and a pile of ads to scroll through. I just can't get behind it as general advice...I just can't. If the page loads snappily then maybe ^^
I guess GDPR/Cookies prompts may fall into this category as well. I've appreciated them as a barrier helping break me from engagement loops in the past.
We talk a lot about privacy here on HN, but I'm starting to believe that the most important problem is maybe not privacy, but the addiction generated by those platforms.
Even if they are entangled (because algorithms need out private details to be trained), we could have perfectly private platforms, but still have a lot of people manipulated and addicted.
Should designers make can openers that are a pain in the back so people hate it to use them?
- the meal you wanted to cook.
- the type of can you have at home.
- how many cans you opened.
- time of the day .. and really any data they can.
And now they can target you specifically with Ads that are tailored to you, so you can use the can opener as much as possible, no matter if you cook your meal or not.
Then yes, the designers should add friction, IF their goal is to live in a world where people get to cook their meals.
Is like the typical thing that happens when someone enters Facebook with one goal in mind, to check on something, and suddenly 45 minutes passed and they don't remember why you came on the first place.
Why am I not convinced of the seemingly obvious infinite scroll example? It's not addressing the root problem, and we need to first and foremost think critically of the substance, rather than UI ergonomics. No doubt UI ergonomics can play a role, but I'd rather see people think about how to avoid having an infinite pool of addictive content in the first place. How can we create systems that are inherently limited by their intent, rather than just making the UI worse (although pagination in terms of design is anyway a contentious subject).
That sounds vague, so I'll give a few examples:
- An email service that only sends you your mail every day or x time interval, so you don't feel compelled to keep checking for new things.
- A social network that only lets you make small groups of friends with no global feed at all, so you don't need an algorithm to filter out all the noise and rank everyone's post behind the scenes.
As an aside, just take a moment to let that sink in, in case you haven't. There's a hidden AI deciding how important your friends' thoughts and photos are to you, to keep you addicted to content and keep scrolling, in an effort to show you more ads and make more money. It does so by recording everything you do on the service, and also things you do on other websites. This is not a sci-fi dystopia movie plot, this is what Facebook fundamentally is.
The "but it's free" argument I understand, and accepted for a long while also, but more recently I've started to reject this as a sound argument. Is it really so that if something is free, it gets a pass? I don't think that's true outside the internet. If someone's giving away free home insurance, and "only" requires you to have cameras installed in every room so they can better asses the responsible party, etc., would we as a society really look at that and say "but it's free" and move on with our lives? Hard to prove, but I'm doubtful that this wouldn't receive a massive backlash. What if the "free" plan was the only one available, and there were no comparable insurance companies around to reasonably switch to? What if they were using the recordings to sell data about you to ad companies?
It's free, yes, and sure, I could have "nothing to hide", but the idea of a company recording me in my home and selling how I behave to other companies to make money and get me to buy more stuff is still a fundamentally perverse arrangement.
Well, went a little off topic there, I suppose. But my point being is that I'd like to see services that actively try to make the product usage time finite from the concept, rather than just making the UI more frustrating to use.
I like to try older candies that haven't been optimized to be easy to eat. Usually they satisfy a sweet craving with a smaller serving.
Or compare kettle cooked potato chips to Dorito's. It's still easy to eat an unnecessary amount of calories with kettle chips, but they are more satisfying chip-for-chip than mega commercial stuff.
If social media sites are well-designed, what does that say about their purpose?
To play along with your analogy: if social media sites are well-designed, they do what they're supposed to do: communicate information or misinformation. And just like how we don't crack down on knives even though there are plenty of stabbings, we shouldn't be cracking down on social media & online speech even though there are plenty of liars and idiots who spread misinformation.
A well-designed system does what it's supposed to. Facebook's either supposed to be addictive, or it just is by accident. If it's by accident, it's poorly designed. If it's not, it has an objectionable purpose.
There's no doubt that Facebook can negatively impact one's self-esteem and life, but that's like any entertainment. Even alcohol addiction is better understood and arguably more brutal, yet the only restriction on alcohol is an age limit.
Some info: https://www.livescience.com/49585-facebook-addiction-viewed-...
There’s an old saying that I absolutely love: I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.