The Testing Show: Dark Patterns

The Testing Show: Dark Patterns

Have you found yourself looking at deals and services online that seem too good to be true? Wondering “where’s the catch?” You’re not alone. There are lots of ways that software uses and manipulates us to give up details about ourselves, or to somehow get us to pay for services that we either didn’t want, or to provide information about ourselves and our habits to others that we don’t really want to be known. These practices are grouped together under the phrase ‘Dark Patterns” and Emma Keaveny has made it a point to learn about and warn about them. We discuss several varieties of Dark Patterns and debate where on the spectrum they fall, whether they be nuisances, poor design or an outright breach of ethics.

Also, where were you when Amazon’s E3 services went down on February 28, 2017? Did it affect you? It affected some of us, and at the time we recorded this episode it was a very fresh memory, so we had plenty to say about it.

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Transcript:

MICHAEL LARSEN: Hello.  Welcome to The Testing Show.  I’m Michael Larsen, your show producer, and this week we have an international panel once again.  Let’s go ahead and introduce our regulars.  Jessica Ingrassellino?

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Hello.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Perze Ababa?

PERZE ABABA: Hello, everyone.

MICHAEL LARSEN: From Israel, Joel Montvelisky?

JOEL MONTVELISKY: Hello.  How are you?

MICHAEL LARSEN:   From the UK, we’d like to welcome Ms. Emma Keaveny.  Did I get that right?

EMMA KEAVENY: Yay.  Hell yeah, you did.  Hi, everybody.  [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: Awesome.  Thank you.  So, I don’t want to be too plagiaristic of Greater Than Code, a podcast I enjoy listening to, but I love the way that they do their introductions with their new speakers.  Emma, we’d love to hear a little bit about your origin story.

EMMA KEAVENY:  Uh, right.  Okay.  [LAUGHTER].  Well, I wasn’t always in testing.  I’ve actually come from a factory background.  I was a team leader at a big factory back in Ireland.  Really hated my job.  I got to the stage where I was like, “I need an out.”  I had a really good friend of mine who said, “Hey.  Try QA.”  So, I did ISTQB and all of that good stuff and realized, “Ooh, there’s more to this than meets the eye,” and I hooked up with a guy called Richard Bradshaw who brought me into Ministry of Testing.  Then, there’s a scholarship to win a year’s training, go to TestBash, and I hounded Rosie.  The poor woman couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a tweet from me or an e-mail from me or something.  So, needless to say, I won it.  Go to TestBash, get all this cool training, meet all these awesome people, and I came back with a job.  So then, I moved over May of that year, and I’ve been at Interica, which is a small company based in Uckfield, just outside Brighton.  We deal with archive of data and retrieval.  So, mostly we deal with gas companies.  I have been here almost three years.  [LAUGHTER].  I’ve still got my job, and it’s just getting better and better.

MICHAEL LARSEN:   That sounds fantastic.  Let’s see.  So, the first thing that we want to do here, we like to riff on something that’s in the news, and I always realize when we call it “the news,” we’re doing that with a broad stroke.  Because, seriously, when we record these episodes, it can be weeks until they appear.  So, what we’re recording as “news of the day,” so to speak might be very old by the time we actually, [LAUGHTER], get to talk about it.  But still, we’d like to talk about “the bigger picture” that goes on with these stories, and so I think that a fairly good number of us were directly affected by a little incident that happened on Tuesday, which would have been February 28, 2017 and that’s Amazon S3 basically going completely south.  A show of hands, who was affected by that?

PERZE ABABA: Ugh, you could see two of my hands right now.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

EMMA KEAVENY: Yeah.

PERZE ABABA:   If I had three, I’d actually put them all.

JOEL MONTVELISKY: Yes, definitely.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  So the reason I wanted to mention this, of course, is that for the direct news piece, Amazon S3 basically had a tremendous problem in which many of their servers on the East Coast were inaccessible; and, for me especially, I was right in the middle of doing a test run for our product and literally could not access a server that we needed to get to just to be able to even start our tests.  For several hours we were dead in the water, and that was a new experience for us.  I thought, “Well, this is kind of fun.”  I had a good chance to spend a couple of hours doing some retooling and looking at some scripts that I hadn’t touched in a while and actually doing some reading while I waited for it to come up, but it was that bad.  Definitely affected our Ops Team with them running around going, “What’s happening?  What’s happening?”  And frequently updating saying, “Okay.  Here’s what Amazon says on their page and time delays that they’re seeing, and we don’t know when this is going to happen.”  So, we had a whole lot of people running around.

JOEL MONTVELISKY: Well actually, PractiTest has a company we work with, it’s hosted on Amazon AWS and everything.  Fortunately, our main servers were not very much affected.  There were some side issues with reporting and stuff that were stored on S3, but exactly on that date I had to do a couple of training sessions.  Now, here’s the funny part:  Our system was working great; but, in order to do those training sessions, our customers needed to download a client to do the web conferencing and the company was completely down, meaning no one could actually download that.  Yet, we also got some reading time and some quality time talking to our customers explaining why technology actually sucks sometimes; but again, it was cool and fortunately everything actually got sorted out eventually.

PERZE ABABA:   Personally, for me, I am currently involved in a performance testing baseline as well as stress testing project, and we do use JMeter as well as BlazeMeter.  So, none of our BlazeMeter tests that were scheduled were running at all.  So, we had multiple tests that were on queue throughout the whole outage, and here’s the funny thing too.  It is that the moment you’re put on queue, it doesn’t actually know what to do after that.  So, I had these 2 very specific tests that, 12 hours later, were still waiting to be allocated some virtual machines.  So, it was a pretty interesting day to like observe some of these error cases for these software-as-a-service, or at least platform-as-a-service, companies that heavily rely and always assuming that these, you know, services will always be on.  It took them awhile to update their status message because that needed to be within S3 as well.  So, that was an interesting and funny and frustrating day.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  This shows the “lie” to a lot of statistics, if you will.  When we talk about 99.99 percent uptime, that sounds fantastic on paper; but, of course, it doesn’t take into account that 0.001 percent when downtime hits and just how devastating that downtime can be for somebody, even if it’s just for a few hours.  We will certainly find out what the financial impact is.  I know for a fact that this was definitely a financial hit for us, for some our users, and I hope that we have smoothed that out so far.  I think this definitely is an “introspection point,” if you will, in the sense that, “So what does this mean for everything in the cloud, and where do we go from here?  We go down, what do we see from this?  Are we going to start to see back-up plans that have us using multiple services so that if one goes down we’ve got somebody else in place?”  I’m really not prepared to talk in depth about that.  It’s just something I just happened to think about.

JOEL MONTVELISKY:  Speaking from the side of a provider, because that’s mostly what we do, it’s about knowing how you can manage that, and I guess some of us are starting to think about it, “Okay.  So, we need to co-allocate.  We need to co-host, and we need to start working with more than one service or at least more than one area in order to do that.”  I think that, again, most companies are already realizing, “That’s a must.”  Because, as you were saying, you don’t know if it’s going to be an outage of five minutes or an outage of five hours, and there’s a huge difference between both of them obviously.  The only way to work around it is to say, “Hey.  We’re going to be working with more than one provider.”  I guess most companies are starting to realize that.  Again it starts to sound, even though it’s a very big investment—not only in money but a lot of logistics and even development because you need to start working in a more intricate and more complex environment.  It is something that most companies will need to do at the end of day.

PERZE ABABA:  Well, yeah, that’s a pretty interesting point.  We kind of live in the counterculture right now, where we live in a world where MVPs are really being pushed forwards.  We push as many products as we can with minimum infrastructure hardening as possible because we just want to get it out and that seems to be, you know, one of the challenges that we have, even though a lot of these companies that went down are already in the business for years and years but they keep on trying to continue to innovate and kind of forget, like, the operations side of things.  So, hopefully this is a time for them to be introspective.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Thank you, Perze.  Much appreciated.  All right.  So, we’re going to a little transition at this point, and we’re going to get into our main theme.  Our main theme today is Dark Patterns, and that’s the reason that we’ve asked Emma Keaveny to be on the show with us today.  So Emma, what are Dark Patterns, and why should we care about them?

EMMA KEAVENY: That’s a very good question.  Well, dark patterns are basically little designs, UX designs, on a website, or in life too, to trick the user into doing something they wouldn’t normally do.  So, you know, unbeknownst to them, they either sign up for something or they spend money on something they didn’t realize.  It wasn’t straight and plain in their face.

MICHAEL LARSEN: So I’m going to show my age here, Emma.  This is always what I considered to be that classic example.  I’m probably one of the few people who remembers the original Columbia Music Service, where you could buy 11 albums for just 0.99, and they would ship you these 11 albums.  All you would have to do is, “Buy 4 more albums at our regular price for the next 3 years and you will meet the needs of our contract,” and then realizing that when they started sending you these albums, if you did not jump through all the hoops necessary to prevent them from sending them to you, that you would have them arrive in the mail and then you would have this invoice for effectively double what it would cost for you to go down to your local record store.  Show of hands, who remembers records?  Who owned a turntable?  Anybody?  Anybody?

EMMA KEAVENY:  Yep.  I signed up.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  [LAUGHTER].

JOEL MONTVELISKY:  I remember my dad actually having one, but I don’t really remember using it.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  Joel, you’re killing me here.  [LAUGHTER].

JOEL MONTVELISKY: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN:  But seriously—

JOEL MONTVELISKY: You asked for it.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  —this was a very distinct memory for me.  As a kid, I signed up for this myself.  So, I was on the hook for paying for this.  When I came to realize just how much money it costs to do this and how difficult it was to opt out every month, this was in the days before the Internet, you really had to do a lot to make sure that you were not the recipient of one of these.  If you were the recipient, trying to cancel an order and get it to be reversed, took forever.  It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I swore I would never do that again.  Then we come to the Internet, and the problems with it are (in some ways) even worse.  I don’t want to necessarily disparage anybody about this, and I’m not going to call them out by names.  Others, feel free.  If you want to, that’s okay.  There is one service that I do actually like, and I got in it because it said, “Hey.  We’d like to offer you a free trial and with it you can see what our product does and how it works.  Oh.  But, by the way, to be able to make sure that we can get everything set up for you, we need to have your credit card information.  It’s okay.  We’re not going to charge you.”  [ANK].

EMMA KEAVENY:[LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: Oh, they most certainly did.  Then trying to reverse those charges or get off that service.  Oh notice, there’s nothing on their site about getting off the service.  You have to spend a couple of hours digging around the site doing a crawl someplace to try to find a phone number so that you can actually contact a real-live human being who will actually say, “Oh, okay.  We can process that for you;” and, even then, still after multiple questions to the point to where I just said, “I don’t care how good your service is.  I don’t care how vital it is.  Putting me through this has made me infinitely less likely to (A) want to use you and (B) even tell anybody positively that they should use you.”

EMMA KEAVENY: Yeah, I completely agree with that.  The problem is that’s just one part of all this dark pattern, kind of, “conspiracy,” if you want to call it that.  What you were just describing there is referred to as a “roach motel,” easy to get into but, man, it’s so difficult to get out of it.  It’s just insane and like that.  So many people fall for that.  You’re set up for like a 30‑day trial, then the next thing you know, you’re getting a monthly charge because you forgot to deselect it or unsubscribe or whatever.  That’s just one of many.  Like with Windows 10, there was another case.  It was a Just in Case Clause.  So if you have Windows and you didn’t want to upgrade to Windows 10, they still didn’t care.  They still downloaded it, [LAUGHTER], but they just kept it in a hidden folder in case, later down the road, you might actually want to go to Windows 10.

If you’re not really a Windows fan and you really don’t want to go to Windows 10, you’re never really going to do that; but, in the meantime, this file is taking up 3 GB to 6 GB on your operating system.  Not only that, you’ve spent money to download something you didn’t already want.  If you’re not every tech savvy, you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’re just going to be running out of space.  You’re going to have find money for hard drives or memory cards.  It’s a bit of joke.  The problem is, these companies and the likes of this, they really take advantage of people (A) not knowing what they’re doing.  It may be the age of the people (the users), and time.  People don’t have time to look through a website and make sure they’ve read every single word that’s on the page, and that’s a lot of the problem because they can hide stuff straight in front of your eyes.  If you’re not looking for it, the next think you know, you’ve just bought yourself a bloody mug that you didn’t want from Sports Direct.

MICHAEL LARSEN:    So, a little bit of a plug here.  What I’m looking at for some of these examples here, there is a site called, darkpatterns.org.

EMMA KEAVENY: That’s correct.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Yeah.  So one of the things that I love here, just the term alone.  Who wants to tell me a little bit about “Privacy Zuckering?”

EMMA KEAVENY:  [LAUGHTER].  That’s a good one.  See, when I was doing my talk last year, “Privacy Zuckering,” that’s actually, probably, the newest term that’s come to Dark Patterns.  That came in, I think, maybe, last year—early last year, if not late the year before.  It’s so crazy, I mean, like how many of us actually have Facebook.  You know, it’s a place to show my family what I’m doing and all the pictures and where I’ve gone; when you have the app on your phone, you’ve got to allow for so much.  You’ve got to allow Facebook to get into your photos, into your contacts list, you know, into your music list, into everything, and you’re like, “Why?”  But, if you don’t accept that, you then can’t use it.  It’s quite nasty, but what do you do?  Do you really care about it?  I mean, do you mind that, you know, he knows what you’re doing or where you’re going or what information you have?  If you’re really private, would you be using Facebook anyway?  I don’t know.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I totally understand that, and I walk a fine line with this.  Historically, a phrase that I have, ever since that I’ve been involved in the tech world—I read a Wired article back when Wired was brand new, (a phrase that I found interesting)—I remember the article.  It was called, The Art of Surveillance.  This whole idea that, in the future, cameras would be tracking us and it would always be on and, you know, people would always be watching—(the phrase that always stuck with me and I’ve usually used this as my modus operandi at all times) is, “The only way to truly be free in this world is to be truly open about everything.”  Let people see everything, talk about everything.  Never have a secret, because then somebody can potentially use it against you.  For years, I actively believed that and I operated that way.  So when things like Facebook or Myspace or other tools came out, “Hey, great!  There is this free tool I can use, and it’s really helpful for this.  Oh, they want my personal information.  [PFFFT], whatever.  Big deal.  What can they possibly do with that?”  Honestly, now, when I start to see advertisements pop up on my wall because I did a search a little bit ago or I made a mention to somebody in a conversation that I was in and suddenly I’m seeing searches based on the fact that I made a sideways comment to somebody, that’s when I said, “All right.  Here is the dark side to my personal philosophy.”  They’re letting me know, “Hey.  You know, we’re really keeping track of just about everything you say and do.”

JOEL MONTVELISKY:  Yeah.  But Mike, I think that you’re missing the point here.  Because, on the one hand, I’m 100 percent with you.  I always tell my wife, [LAUGHTER], it’s like, “We’re not really that popular.  We’re not really that interesting.  Even if someone was to know what we were to be doing, come on, who would really care about it?”  So, I guess we’re more or less on the same page here, but then when I start seeing any ad that people are trying to specifically point me to based on a search that I did or a mention that I did, then what I try to remind myself is, “Hey.  Remember you’re not paying Facebook for anything that you’re doing.  So, if you’re getting a free service, remember nothing is free.”  So, this is what you’re paying for.  If you want to be able to share with your family about what your kids have been doing and know what your friends from high school have been doing, that very-focused advertisement that exists is extremely annoying, I know it, especially when you’re seeing the same ad time and time and time again and you really are not, [LAUGHTER], interested in it.  But, what I tell myself is, “This is what I’m paying.”  If you don’t want to pay it, then just log out of Facebook.  This is what it’s actually costing us.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I’m 100 percent onboard with that.  I know exactly what you mean.  Again, it comes down to the fact that if you are receiving anything “for free,” you are the product.  Anytime I feel frustrated, I always remind myself, “That’s the whole deal for this.  Your information is what people are buying,” which again comes into the whole idea of Privacy Zuckering and the old data brokerage industry.

EMMA KEAVENY: [LAUGHTER].  The problem here is we get used to it, and we kind of expect it now.  We always know there is some price to pay.  Sure.  If we were to have a website that was flawless, that you could go into and you could sign up for something, and nothing happened and you didn’t order anything extra, and you weren’t subscribed to this, that, and the other, you’d be like, “Is this actually a real website?  Is this real?  Is it doing what we want it to do?”  Because we’ve now become accustomed.  Like with Ryanair, I remember about 2‑or‑3 years ago, getting a flight just to go home to Ireland would take me 20‑to‑30 minutes.  I’ve done it a couple of times.  I’ve gotten to where you pay and I was like, “That’s not my price.”  I realized I had insurance where I forgot to tick the right box or select the right country or not a country in this instance.  They’ve now changed it.  It still takes me 20 minutes, because it’s not as bad as it was, which is really good, and I even double checked it.  I’m not going to make the same mistakes as I’ve done before.  Well, I haven’t gained, [LAUGHTER], any time because I’m expecting something to blow up in my face, which is quite sad.  So even though they’re making an improvement, I’m still waiting for them to kick me in the butt for it.

JOEL MONTVELISKY: I’m thinking whether this is a dark pattern or if we’re going over a separate route of people just saying, “Hey.  You know what?  I don’t care about the complexity that we’re putting in there.  I’m going to make it less complex for my developers, less complex for my designers, even though it’s going to make it a lot more complex for my customers to do it, because I feel that is something that I, at least, see quite a lot on the Internet where people say, “Hey.  I want to give you so many options, and I’m going to put all the options in there.”  It might be that I’m very naive and they’re doing it so that they can actually suck my money out of me without knowing, but I sometimes believe it is mostly about laziness.  These guys didn’t try to think about my profile, didn’t try to think about the stuff that would be actually easy for me to do, and they just shoved everything in my face and that’s why it took me 20 minutes to sign out and buy the stuff that I wanted to buy on Amazon for my kids.

EMMA KEAVENY:  I agree with that somewhat, but we’ll take Ryanair since we’re discussing it anyway.  With Ryanair, it was fine.  It’s loads of options and it’s great.  If you want to book your hotel and your car, you know, it’s up to you to go through that.  I don’t mind that.  That’s fine.  I understand that.  It’s just a lot of the options they have.  For example, with the insurance part, if you’re just going to Ireland and it was like, “Do you want insurance?”  Well, it wasn’t a simple, “Yes,” or “No.”  When you dropped down the dropdown, you know how you have your top five most cities or countries you go to, there was nothing in there to say, “No.  I don’t want insurance.”  You had to scroll down and you went to, “Don’t insure me” in a list of countries.  Now, I’m sorry, that in itself is bad design right there.

A lot of people have gotten through this stage of booking a ticket, all they’re going to see is, “Country.  Where are you going to?”  “Oh, I’m going to Ireland.”  They’ll accidentally put it in there not realizing it could be for the insurance or they don’t see, “Don’t insure me,” assume they have to take it, and then they’ve just been charged with—what?—an extra 10 Euro or whatever it is at this stage.  Okay.  I understand.  It’s not in your face saying, “Here, don’t insure me,” with big neon lights.  But, it needs to be easily accessible.  You know, if it’s somebody who is of an older generation trying to book online, they wouldn’t know to scroll down and look for, “Don’t insure me,” under a country list.  It’s just not right.  It doesn’t make sense.  You want something nice and easy.  I know Ryanair is cheap and cheerful and we all deal with them.  It still doesn’t mean that they should be trying to get any more money out of you doing it that way.  If you’ve got a good deal, you’re going to get the money regardless.  You don’t need to try and fool your customers or your users.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Another dark pattern that I’d like to talk about here—and this is one that I’ve personally dropped services for—is the friend spam.

EMMA KEAVENY: [LAUGHTER].  Yes.  This is what got me into dark patterns to begin with.  When I was testing LinkedIn—and I’m going to plug out Weekend Testing right there.  Fantastic.  But, this is what got me into dark patterns.  Sorry, I get all excited at that.  We were testing the LinkedIn App and I was looking at the contacts and unbeknownst to me I had actually sent off a whole load of invites via e-mail, which is fine.  It didn’t cost me anything.  But, I went on ahead and did it via my phone.  So everybody, [LAUGHTER], that was in my contact list got sent a text to go join LinkedIn because I had sent it.  Now, I didn’t realize that’s what had happened nor was I warned about, “This is going to cost you money,” which it did.  Now, it wasn’t a lot of money.  That’s not the point.  It cost me, say, about 7 GPB.  But, if you can imagine 10 people, 100 people, or 1,000 people doing the same kind of thing, it kind of racks up quite a bit.  The fact that, if you went back on the app, you could go ahead and do it again.  [LAUGHTER].  So, if you weren’t sure and you didn’t realize something went through the first time, you could be sending this list three-or-four times.  Something that cost you 7 GPB is suddenly up close to 30 GPB.  It’s an absolute joke, and it took me ages to realize I’d done that.  Neil Studd actually messaged me and he said, “Em, you just sent me a message.  Do you know what you’re doing?”  [LAUGHTER].  I was like, “I did?  I don’t understand what’s happening here.”  Then he was like, “Yep.  You’ve just hit the friend spam on the dark pattern,” and then that’s what got me into this whole topic.  [LAUGHTER].  It’s fantastic in that regard, but it’s scary when you see what’s out there.

 

MICHAEL LARSEN: Yeah, agreed.  Also, one of the things that with the friend spam, you think, “Oh, it’s no big deal.  Oh, it’s a free app.  Well, okay, I guess that’s okay.”  There is a cost, and the cost is there’s a hit to reputation.  If I go through my Twitter list and suddenly discover that I’ve got a bunch of people who have un-followed me or, more to the point, have blocked me because I inadvertently spammed them and didn’t even realize it, and now I can’t even go back and apologize to them and say, “No.  Really, I didn’t mean to do this.”  Now understanding that some of these companies do this and the way that they do it, I’m a little more lenient and tolerant and I kind of roll my eyes.  But, when I do get a repeat offender, I will reach out to them and say, “But just to make sure, do you know that this is happening in your name?”  [LAUGHTER].

EMMA KEAVENY: You know, it’s funny.  You’re always worried about what you’ve done.  I’ve never thought about the reputation and people saying, “I’m going to block you for the amount of crap that you send me,” which is quite scary really, [LAUGHTER], because I’m more mortified that I’ve actually accidentally sent it than the repercussions of it.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yeah.

EMMA KEAVENY: [LAUGHTER].  It just amuses me, this whole thing, to be honest.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I don’t know what this pattern is called.  I’ve had the discussion with people.  So Emma, I guess I’ll ask for your opinion quickly on this pattern.  On the U-Haul website, where they select all the options for you, and they’re like, “If you don’t want these 8 things then tick this box,” but the box is below the fold on the design, so it’s literally you kind of have to scroll to the bottom of the page to un-tick the box so that way you don’t get charged the $30.00, and they have 4 pages like this.  So they’re like, “Oh, rent a truck for $19.95.  Oh, why don’t you get all these things?”  And, every box is checked as if you want it.  I thought this was a very dark pattern, but I had other people in a discussion say, “Oh, it’s not.  It’s just UI design and the company has a right to make money,” and blah-blah-blah.  But, I really feel that that’s dishonest to a customer to say, “Oh it’s 1995, and we’re going to check $200.00 worth of charges for you over the course of 4 pages and hide the option in small print below the fold.”

EMMA KEAVENY: It’s not against the law.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO:  [LAUGHTER].  It’s not against the law.

EMMA KEAVENY: Here’s the thing

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: But—

EMMA KEAVENY: And, that’s the thing.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: —is it a dark pattern?

EMMA KEAVENY: Oh, most definitely.  I mean, that’s the problem with the dark patterns.  They can get away with doing it.  I mean, how do you stop U-Haul from doing that?  They probably have that checkbox here, you know, “If you don’t want to be charged, deselect.”  I’ve seen websites where they alternate the questions on page 1, “Check here if you don’t want to be subscribed,” and then the second page, “Deselect here if you don’t want to be unsubscribed.”  It’s crazy how they get away, and the onus is on the poor user to go through four pages.  Of course it’s a dark pattern.  Absolutely.  Anything that tricks the customer into spending more money or subscribing into something they are not willing or understand what their getting into, that can’t be right in anybody’s eyes, regardless of the business, and I know it’s perfect for them because they’re making extra money and they’re getting extra data and information off people.  That’s all well and good, but for Poor ole’ Joe Schmoe, I mean, he just/she just wants to buy a truck or rent a truck and move house, because they’ve already got enough stress doing that.  Why should they have to go through four pages to say, “No.  I don’t want to be charged $30.00 extra.”  It’s ridiculous.

But then, what do you do?  I mean, is there anywhere else you can go?  I mean, what?  What do we do?  I mean, we kind of have to put up with it?  It’s not like you can call them up and say, “Look, your website is pure crap.  I mean, I’ve got to go through 4 pages because you want to charge me an extra $30.00.”  They’ll just turn around and say, “Well, there’s plenty of other websites you could go to.”  That’s the problem.  There seems to be power on their end, that they can do all of this, and we, as users, for as many as we are, we can’t seem to get together and say, “I don’t think so.”  I mean, even with the darkpatterns.org website.  I mean, it’s great.  They’ve changed it up this year.  Last year, they had like a list of all these different websites that had hid one dark pattern that was listed on the webpage, but only a few of them changed their ways and only a few of them changed their flow and listened to what the consumer had to say.

If they’re not brought to court or if there’s not a big massive strike or standup, they’re just going to keep on doing it.  I mean, what do we do?  What are we supposed to do?  Like I said earlier, we’re so used to it now, is there any point in trying to fight it, because it’s just part of an expectation, “That’s how it’s always been?”  I don’t know.  It’d be nice—it’d be interesting—to hear what the public would have to say about this.  What would they like to do?  Is there a way to get around it?  Is there a way to try and curb it?  I know, in some countries they’ve got particular laws to do ad blocking and to make sure if something is on sale, there’s no hidden cost behind it, that everything is upfront and in your face, but that’s only in a couple of countries that I’ve read recently.  I think it’s Australia and I think some in the UK, but not much.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Unfortunately, it sounds to me like this is something we could probably riff on for a couple of hours, and we’ve only scratched the surface with what we can do here.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I mean, I want to respect everybody’s time.  I know that we have other things that we have to do in the day.  So, I’m going to have to be that bad meanie and say that, “We have to end our fun a little bit early here,” so that we can get everybody back to what they want to do.  But, this is where we usually do our shameless self‑promotion and shout-outs.  If it’s okay with everybody, I’d like to give a plug to another podcast that I really appreciate and listen to quite frequently.  It’s the CodeNewbie Podcast posted by Saron Yitbarek.  The episode in question that I think ties nicely into this is Episode #122, and it’s called, The Ethics of Coding with Bill Sourour.  They cover a lot of interesting things in that about, “If we’re looking at these dark patterns, are they deliberate design issues that are just, ‘This is bad code and we can do better,’ or are these actually unethical situations that we should be calling people out for.”

EMMA KEAVENY: Yeah.  If you want to understand why businesses are actually trying the website like this you should read, Evil by Design.  It’s absolutely fantastic.  It’s scary, because they literally go through the psychology of how people read, what they skim through.  They take you into every habit human beings have when it comes to reading, you know, to how they look at a website.  You know, how they perform in life.  They take that, and that’s how they create these websites.  You know, where you could have like a big-massive white box in the middle of the screen and the user will be concentrating on that.  You’ll have your small terms and conditions underneath and you could have just literally said, “By entering in the white box, you’ve signed your life away.”  You’re going to enter into the white box because you’ve not even seen the text underneath.  It’s such a good book, such a good read, and I swear it really does open up your mind.  It’s called, Evil by Design and it’s by Chris Nodder.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Awesome.  Fantastic.

PERZE ABABA: The NYC Testers just had our last Meetup with Martin Hynie as well as Anna Royzman talking about [Audio Skip].  So, just please watch out Meetup site, our Meetup link, for the next series of NYC Testers Meetups.  We do have a very relevant Meetup topic that we discussed late, as of late last year.  You know, we had Dan Billing talk about, Dark Patterns.  I will send that link to Michael on the Show Notes.  So, we look forward to seeing you guys, for our listeners who are in the New York City Metropolitan area.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Fantastic.  Thanks, Perze.  All right.  Thank you so much for being on the show; and, for everybody listening, we will see you in two weeks.

EMMA KEAVENY: Thank you.  Bye.  It’s been a pleasure.

JOEL MONTVELISKY; Bye guys.  Thank you very much.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Thank you.

PERZE ABABA: Bye, everyone.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]