Using the modern web doesn't feel empowering. It feels immensely frustrating.

The web is barely usable without ad-blocking. Pages take an age to load and the content jumps around as more ads download and display. Also the ads are spying on you.

The entire JS ecosystem is dependency hell and sometimes you have to download massive JS files just to view a web page. The JS is probably also spying on you.

Worse still, JS is also probably why the Back button doesn't work properly on so many sites.

It feels like frontend engineers and web designers do their hardest work to make the whole experience of browsing the web completely miserable.

Why can't I open some embedded YouTube videos in full-screen? Why can't I just click Back when I want to go back without breaking the entire page? Why is this video playing by itself when I didn't ask it to?

Who are the people designing these completely terrible experiences? What happened to them? Who hurt them?!


Not to mention GDPR requests for consent, which frequently use dark UI patterns to make it obtusely difficult to opt out of tracking and advertising cookies.

Happy with being tracked? Sure, just click this "Accept" button.

Don't want to be tracked? Here, uncheck these 412 checkboxes by hand listing everywhere we might sell your data to.

... Seriously? Watch as I close this tab and never revisit your site.

Same goes for hiding content under "please don't ad-block" dialogs. Leave. Me. Alone.

@neilalexander You have to be the sites you want to see on the web, or something Gandhi never actually said...

@pizza_pal I'm not a web designer, I generally make it my mission to avoid designing web sites. I would feel more inclined to just go and write specs for an alternative metadata-based web.

@neilalexander Like the Semantic Web? There's a lot of "ethical design" philosophies out there too, like making stuff so blind people can use it with adaptive technology and whatnot, and also not making sites as annoying and confusing as shit...

@pizza_pal The Semantic Web is really a step in the right direction but I don't think it goes far enough. Ultimately a computer can be taught very easily how to render a "news article", "wikipedia page", "weather forecast", "photo album" etc. So why not just send me the *content* and let me view it on my own terms?

And if we can't accept that, then I'd accept a future with XML+XSLT so that a) data is specified, b) it's easy to see the source and c) I can ignore presentational data if I wish.

@thinkMoult @neilalexander Oh, that's cool. I've been looking at a bunch of minimal site formats, frameworks, style guides, etc. I need to put them all in zotero so I remember them. I've been working on this web-based GUI editor for a bibliographic metadata format and all the javascripts and so forth are making me crazy.

@neilalexander my favorite is being in the US and seeing the GDPR notices and then finding out that 90% of them don't allow US users to opt out. that, or they claim to allow opt-outs but actually don't, or if you opt out the page won't work/load at all .....

so much fun

@neilalexander It is pretty hard to find pages without tracking nowadays. They really succeeded in spreading the virus using these share buttons that people volonteer to add to their pages.

@bjonte Indeed. The psychological manipulation is strong with share buttons, and the tracking capabilities endless.

@neilalexander Just got a page today which, when I pressed "Escape" (accidentally – but yes, I sure wanted to escape that) assumed I didn't consent (Yeah! Good guess) and informed me that, in that case, they couldn't show me the content (which I had already read before activating JS to be able to use their menu). WTF. Violates GDPR for the dependency.

Hint: In many cases, I found "Reading Mode" is a good way out.

@IzzyOnDroid @neilalexander oh yes, reading mode also often makes these cookie warnings go away without needing to click "accept" :) however, you still have to load the whole page first, including js, or the browser won't show you the reading mode icon :-/

@daniel_bohrer @neilalexander for that part, there are uBlock Origin and uMatrix. But admittedly, some pages simply don't even show a single letter without you permitting it at least some of that JS crap. Such sites I usually avoid completely.

@daniel_bohrer @neilalexander For me (and that's how I hadle it on my sites) a page must load even if JS is unavailable/blocked. Limited use for additional features is fine, but mustn't be mandatory. All essential information should be accessible without.


@neilalexander Not to mention websites bitching about GDPR so they block you, or geo-bitching (aka geo-blocking) since you are visiting from the wrong country.

@superruserr @neilalexander Then there's the websites that use cloudflare, which are to a one unusable. Which is a lot of them, these days. #greatcloudwall

@neilalexander All of this is exactly what I'm not doing with What a Great Link (, and I really hope I'm able to make it work so I can be an example for others to follow.

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