What Internet Users Hate the Most


Retired Old Goat
Staff member
Interesting article at: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20041206.html
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, December 6, 2004:
The Most Hated Advertising Techniques

Studies of how people react to online advertisements have identified several design techniques that impact the user experience very negatively.

Advertising is an integral part of the Web user experience: people repeatedly encounter ads as they surf the Web, whether they're visiting the biggest portals, established newspapers, or tiny personal sites. Most online advertising studies have focused on how successful ads are at driving traffic to the advertiser, using simple metrics such as clickthrough rates.

Unfortunately, most studies sorely neglect the user experience of online ads. As a result, sites that accept ads know little about how the ads affect their users and the degree to which problematic advertising tricks can undermine a site's credibility. Likewise, advertisers don't know if their reputations are degraded among the vast majority of users who don't click their ads, but might well be annoyed by them.

Now, however, we have data to start addressing these questions. At my recent User Experience 2004 conference, John Boyd from Yahoo! and Christian Rohrer from eBay presented a large body of research on how users perceive online advertising. Here, I offer a few highlights from their presentation (my comments on their findings are solely my responsibility).

What's Bad

When users were asked how various aspects of online ads affected their Web experience, they rated the following attributes most negatively.
I found this part interesting (I'm 'cleaning' a friends PC this weekend because of a spy-ware problem)...
Another user entered the following comment on a major website's feedback form: "You people should be ashamed of yourself! I did not ask to have 3 pop ups come across my screen when I visit you. I do not visit singles sites, and I don't want to add 4 inches to my *****. As a matter of fact, I don't use any of the services that pop up on my screen. I think it is disgusting that you money hungry ******* have infringed on my computer for your own selfish gain. From this moment on, I am boycotting you, and I am advising EVERYONE I know to do the same thing. Down with you and your pop up ads."

Although it vividly illustrates user frustration with pop-ups, this second comment is unfair because the site didn't host or advocate the offending ads. The ads were delivered by "spyware" that the user had unwittingly installed. In addition to showing the strong feelings engendered by intrusive or irrelevant ads, the comment also illustrates the extent to which pop-ups have become associated with unsavory content.


Good list, but how about: "Stealthily opens new browser windows in the background" combined with "Loads slowly" and "Automatically plays sound"?

Wouldn't that be a winner? :rolleyes:


Wes Bucey

Whenever I am ready to throw a shoe through the computer monitor, I am reminded of a scene from a Clark Gable movie, The Hucksters.

Sidney Greenstreet plays an overbearing soap tycoon berating his advertising people about his philosophy of advertising.

At one point, to make his point, he spits up a big hocker onto the boardroom table. Everyone else in the room is visibly horrified and disgusted.

Sidney goes on to say, as he wipes up the hocker with a handkerchief, [paraphrased], "Gentlemen! What you have seen me do here today is disgusting, but you will always remember it."

That movie was made in 1947. I probably saw it in a third run movie house in 1950. In the 54 intervening years, I have never forgotten that moment.

I guess a lot of the folks who put annoying ads on the internet subscribe to Sidney's philosophy.


Retired Old Goat
Staff member
Wes Bucey said:
Whenever I am ready to throw a shoe through the computer monitor....
I just think of the replacement cost of the computer/monitor if I hit it.

As an added note - The only 'popup' here that is not specifically labeled as such in the link (they're in the main forum statistics page) is the one you can turn on or off in your user options for notifications of new personal messages (PMs) while you're logged in and 'online' here in the forums. If you see any other popups your computer is infected with spyware or whatever.

Advertising is *relatively* new here. The first paid advertisements (vs. 'courtesy' advertisements) on this site were Google advertisements which I first put on the site on 22 December 2003 - Almost a year ago.


Staff member
Super Moderator
For me, the single most annoying thing is the cotton-pickin' pop-ups.

There are occasions when I get unhappy with Yahoo too......their people who check profiles deleted my profile recently......a Star Trek oriented profile......must have been a Star Wars fan evidently........