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Archive for September 19, 2020

Interesting Take on Ongoing Crapification of Internet User Experience

September 19, 2020 11 comments

While reading a recent Slashdot post which in turn linked to an article about how 5G wireless was not better than 4G LTE in majority of situations, I came across what some might consider to be a spammy reply- one which I had seen a number of times in past. The very short version of that reply is that the Internet has become progressively less usable and useful since 1999. It also correctly identifies the factors behind this shift (financialization, monopolization, promotion of incompetent managerial types into decision making positions etc). Since I am considering writing a series on why technological progress in past two decades have made things worse and inferior, thought this rant might interest some of you. I have also decided to cut and paste the text of that reply in full for you to read and archival purposes.

In the year 1999, you went to a site, clicked “register”, filled in basic info, and then you had an account. No CAPTCHAs. No e-mail verification in most cases. Absolutely no “phone verification”. No fake error messages based on your IP address/”reputation score”. No underhanded “oh, wait, you cannot have the account after all” messages after you’ve already registered. No evil “shadowbans”/bubbles. No photo IDs had to be scanned in and sent to the owners of the site. Nothing like that whatsoever. Those days are long gone…

* The local auction site was bought by eBay a few years ago. I then tried to sell an item using my account created in 2003… only to be spat in the face with yet another “upload government photo ID to continue” message — after I had spent hours upon hours creating and perfecting the description, photos, etc. For an account that was 10+ years old. With nothing but positive feedback on every transaction. I immediately ceased using it forever.

* I keep getting locked out of accounts when companies start using Google’s reCAPTCHA even for logging in. All attempts to contact the companies in question in order for them to have my account “whitelisted” from having to jump through these hoops have been unsuccessful. Google must track every single mouse click, and blocking it means you can’t even attempt to get past their harassments…

* I once (in recent years) actually managed to successfully create a Facebook account, with a lot of trickery and swearing. In no time, they locked me out, forcing me to upload a face photo “for my protection”. I naturally sent them a fake photo and that’s the last time I ever saw that account.

* I tried numerous times to create an account on Plenty of Fish (dating site). Every single time, no matter what information I inputted into the registration form, it would give fake error messages about how the “username is already taken” (even when trying impossible, ridiculous ones full of random alphanumeric characters).

* I registered an account at Reddit and started posting. After a while, it seemed like it was eerily, suspiciously dead. I tried copying the URLs into a new browser instance (with a different set of cookies) and all of the links returned “not found” errors. I e-mailed the site owners about this and they flat-out admitted to me that my account had been silently put in a “bubble” immediately upon registration due to the IP address being owned by a VPN/proxy service. Needless to say, I immediately stopped using the site forever.

* To my horror, I discovered one day in 2019 that “anonymous” posting has been disabled on Slashdot. (As if the constant insult of being called a “coward” wasn’t already bad enough…) Registering an account involves a massive form of information, e-mail verification with an annoying forced “password reset”, and of course a Google reCANCER blob. In other words, it’s no longer possible to properly comment on articles. It was the last place where I could in any way make my little voice heard to a couple of other people.

* Have you noticed how insanely unhelpful error messages have become in recent years? It seems to be a disgusting new practice to actively and consciously make every error message as useless as possible, frequently downright lying, and to only show these at the very last step, to maximize the amount of time and energy you steal from the person trying to register. The excuse given (if any) is to “stop bots”, but since I’m not a bot yet keep getting these BS messages everywhere, they clearly very much affect humans trying to use these trashy services. It’s beyond insulting to get some worthless gibberish about “username is already taken” when the real “error” is “you are not using your home connection directly so that we can track you uniquely and know you by name and address and see exactly which pages you load from us even if you filled in zero personal information”.

* A couple of years ago, I needed a basic website for my software project. Not just every single server host, but even “webhost” (called “web hotel” in some languages) demanded that I sent a scanned copy of my (nonexistent) government-issued photo ID and Visa debit card for the privilege of getting to pay them money. None of them of course mention this prior to wasting my time and energy filling out their endless forms…

* I’ve long since lost count of the number of times when a registration form has claimed that “an e-mail containing a verification link has been sent” but I never actually received any e-mail. (No, it’s not “in the spam folder”…)

* As with countless other “decentralized” things, I looked into The Federation / Fediverse. From their site: “we expect sites we list to have a humane code of conduct in place. Should sites who fail to ban content that can be found generally harmful, that node will be blocked from listing here.” That makes no sense grammatically, but it continues: “Harmful content can be, but not limited to, malware, graphical material of minors, abusive images, hateful content, racist content and climate denialism.” In other words, the whole thing is controlled by the exact same truth-suffocating, hateful scumbags as the centralized giants, rendering it utterly pointless.

* Recently, after Microsoft had bought GitHub, I tried to log in to an account of mine in order to reply to a reply on an issue thread. I was only mildly shocked to learn that they had locked me out with a message about having sent a “verification code” to the throwaway e-mail address I used when registering, obviously long since abandoned and inaccessible. Apparently, having the right password is no longer enough to prove that you control an account. (I could never get back into it, resulting in a dead end for the issue.)

And yes, this is on-topic no matter which news article discussion field it is posted in, because it fundamentally affects us all.

What do you think? Comments?