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Nudge gone evil

Princeton has published the ongoing results of its “Dark Patterns” project. The site says:

Dark patterns are user interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, steering, or deceiving users into making unintended and potentially harmful decisions.

So, Nudge gone evil. (And far beyond nudging.)

From the Dark Patterns page, here are some of the malicious patterns they are tracking:

  • Activity Notification: Influencing shopper decisions by making the product appear popular with others.
  • Confirmshaming: Steering shoppers to certain choices through shame and guilt.
  • Countdown Timer: Pressuring shoppers with a decreasing count-down timer.
  • Forced Enrollment: Requiring shoppers to agree to something in order to use basic functions of the website.
  • Hard to Cancel: Making it easy for shoppers to sign up and obstructing their ability to cancel.
  • Hidden Costs: Waiting to reveal extra costs to shoppers until just before they make a purchase.
  • Hidden Subscription: Charging a recurring fee after accepting an initial fee or trial period.
  • High Demand: Pressuring shoppers by suggesting that a product has high demand.
  • Limited Time: Telling shoppers that a deal or discount will expire soon.
  • Low-Stock Notification: Pressuring shoppers with claims that the inventory is low.
  • Pressured Selling: Pre-selecting or pressuring shoppers to accept the most expensive options.
  • Sneak into Basket: Adding extra products into shopping carts without consent or through boxes checked by default.
  • Trick Questions: Steering shoppers into certain choices with confusing language
  • Visual Interference: Distracting shoppers away from certain information through flashy color, style, and messages.

Home page:

Academic paper:

Nathan Mathias has put a front end to this data at the Tricky Sites site:

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