If choice it be

A pet peeve that’s long outgrown its cage:

[A] phenomenon that’s grown more and more frequent over time: the stupendously annoying coercive forced-choice. It is presented by the pop-up window that offers you something you don’t want and didn’t ask for — be it an update or a service or a product or a website link — and then gives you a choice of responses. But the responses aren’t a simple “yes” or “no. And definitely you never get to choose “go away and leave me alone forever.”

Instead, you get a variant of something snide and sarcastic, where the supposed “no” response reads something like “I don’t want this wonderful free service because I’m a moron.”

Road & Track used to do this a lot on its Web site: they’d promote some piece on, say, The Most Exciting Cars of the 1990s, and then give you the negative option in small print: “No, I’m far more interested in dull, unexciting cars.” I haven’t seen them doing it lately, though.

And there’s one other scheme: hide the X that’s supposed to close the pop-up window. Upper right corner, right? Not necessarily. I’ve seen them stick it two inches away from that corner, inside an otherwise-transparent border. I’ve even seen it in a different corner entirely — upper left, anyone?


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 July 2017 · 2:18 pm

    This is one of those things, like telemarketers that spoof numbers, eighteen layers of packaging that must be breached to get to the analgesic, and magazine blow-in cards that make me think that minor demons exist, and apparently have achieved full employment.

  2. McG »

    3 July 2017 · 3:14 pm

    Ads on phone game apps may make the touchable part of the X way too small, and make the screen read any touch overlap of the ad itself as, “YESYESYES! I WANT TO BUY! BUY! BUY!”

    I’ve been put through some of those three or four times before the ad finally closed.

  3. Jay »

    3 July 2017 · 9:09 pm

    Apps and websites that pull that nonsense get deleted, never to return.

  4. J Greely »

    4 July 2017 · 10:48 am

    One trick I’ve been seeing recently is a big obvious “X” inside the pop-up window, and the actual close button small, faint, and in a non-standard location.


  5. CGHill »

    4 July 2017 · 11:33 am

    Now that’s downright wicked.

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