Content I don’t share

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I can tend to be an over-sharer on Twitter, and probably an under-sharer to almost non-sharer on Facebook, but whatever. Dramas. These are the reasons I generally don’t share a web page regardless of how great the content on it may be…

The website tells me I’m blocking ads because of Privacy Badger script blocking, and refuses to show the content unless I disable it (hello Wired). Privacy Badger isn’t blocking your ads, it’s blocking tracking and other data collection scripts often incorporated with your ads.  I don’t use ad blocker plugins. This isn’t about the content of your ads or the visual space they may take up. Adware scripts are getting worse and worse, and sites are also not incorporating malicious code that’s not even related to ads. Hackers were running cryptocurrency mining through the LA Times website. If you’re visiting websites, a VPN and a good script-blocking browser plugin are your condoms against getting infected with whatever they’ve got running. If your site can’t load with Privacy Badger on (a fairly low bar) then I’m not sharing it with people who may also be using that, and certainly not with people who may not be.

Your site is behind a paywall. I may even subscribe to your site, and don’t really have a problem with you trying to find ways to make some money to fund your work. Great. But I’m not your marketing team. If I’m sharing something you’ve posted, it’s generally because I want people to see it. If they’re not subscribed, then they won’t. I’m not here to convince people to pay you. That’s you’re job. If people are sharing your content, give people clicking that page a pass and then ask them to subscribe if they start clicking others. Sort that out.

Your website’s content is behind an infowall. This is almost as bad. Not quite, but almost. If I promote your content and then you pop up a box asking for everyone who clicks it to give up their details then I’m basically trying to convince people that what’s behind that is worth it, and also worth trusting your data retention and control policies. I don’t know you that well. You want people to subscribe to you, show them why they should. That’s also not my job.

Your website has these huge “Promoted Content” or “Interesting For You” (hello BoingBoing) sections that are basically ads and clickbait flimsily disguised as news articles. Usually these feature awful photoshopped photos of people with skin conditions or weight problems, and say something like “wait until you see…” or have some reality TV personality with some gossipy who-have-they-shagged headline. There’s almost always some kind of “Then And Now Photos Of Formerly Mega Popular Celebs” click garbage. These things are web pollution, working to make people more stupid, and at scale. Not having it. When I share your content, I’m also sharing the accoutrement of links around it.

You put videos on your web pages that start as soon as the page loads (hello Daily Mirror). I’m more of a reader. If I want to watch your video, I’ll click the ▶ on your video. If it starts on it’s own, I’m part of your bounce rate and in Google Analytics, and not your share rate on any social networks. No one likes this. Stop it.

You don’t put all an article’s content on a single page (hello Forbes, etc.). I’m not going to be part of your click rate, but will join your drop-off rate. I think this one is best summed up by this image.

Forbes should be ashamed of itself. It’s content doesn’t need this.

You’re link isn’t using https. Understand why.

Every page on your site is slathered in sharing buttons. No one needs these, okay? No one. There’s a url bar that people can find the url and slap it anywhere they like. I’m not opposed to a few, well-placed icons even if they’re pointless, but too many sites make these more dominant than the content itself. They slow down loading and can, in the case of Facebook, be collecting information that people don’t want to send there. Stop it.

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