A Cracked Look At The Impact Of Spam

from the you've-got-some-insight-on-your-comedy dept

As you may know, I'm a pretty big fan of Cracked.com. They also share a lot of values with Techdirt. Recently, they published an angry tirade against spammers that's also an interesting look at how years of steadily-increasing crap have shaped user habits and expectations online. Examples include things like browser toolbars, which are almost universally hated and yet still bundled with lots of software and foisted upon users during the install process, often through a confusing combination of checkboxes and accept/decline buttons:

Can you imagine how we would jump down the throat of any real-world business that tried that shit? Imagine ordering your lunch at McDonald's, but when they got to the "fries" question, they phrased it as, "Don't you not want to not have fries with that?" Then, no matter how you answered that ridiculous triple negative, they told you, "By pulling forward to the next window, you are agreeing to buy fries" and shoved them into your car anyway, claiming, "No, you said you wanted them, so now you have to pay for them. No take-backs!" Also, the fries are poison.

It also takes on the fact that most web users ignore virtually all advertising, since so much of it is untrustworthy to a degree that old media rarely reached:

On TV, even if the ad is laced with misleading information (no, Axe Body Spray probably won't lead to instant female-on-male street rape), at least we know that the product is real. Toyota isn't selling you a cardboard car. If you order one of those stupid robe/blanket things, they're going to deliver that retarded, sex-repellant monstrosity to your house. The few ads that do reek of scam are the late night commercials (Enzyte, bullshit diet scams, one-year online colleges), and at least you know when they're coming. You can separate them from the legitimate products. On the net, you just have to assume that everything you see is out to screw you, the only exceptions being brands that you already know.

It's an entertaining read, and one that underlines one of the biggest ways online advertising is different from traditional advertising. When space was limited, the battle was for exposure; when space is unlimited, the battle is for trust and relevance in an increasingly uncertain and noisy world.



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