Stupid Web Tricks
Back when I first got on the internet with Family Video in 1997, the service came with unlimited web hosting along with email and internet service for only thirteen bucks. Their URL was a good one: short and easy to remember. I had to get a browser from a brick and mortar software store because there wasn’t much of an internet yet. Since I had free hosting I learned HTML.
When I started my Quake site at the suggestion of someone who had seen a couple of my other game pages, its URL was famvid.com /mcgrew /games /quake /quake2/. A British gamer and webmaster named “flamethrower” who had a podcast about that game (although they were called “shoutcasts” back then) said it was “the URL from bloody hell” and defied anyone to actually type it in.
But domain name registration cost over a hundred bucks back then, and it wasn’t like I was running a business or anything. Like the sites I run now, they were ad-free. This was not because even though I didn’t realize that web ads are a losing proposition (but nobody else knew it then, either), but that ads were forbidden by the terms of service.
Then GoDaddy came along. They were cheap, but everything I read about them said that they were sleazy. I found Register 4 Less, and they were extremely cheap and they weren’t a bit sleazy. I’m still using them today. Their bottom tier of service gives you your domain name and ten megabytes of storage for fifteen dollars a year. I use that “free” service for mcgrew.info. My book site, mcgrewBooks.com, needs a bit more space than that since I’m hosting a couple dozen full books, some of them heavily illustrated, so I’m paying fifty bucks a year for fifty gigabytes for that site. I get five email addresses to match my domain along with the extra space, and a lot of other goodies; tools a commercial site usually needs. It has every tool I knew of and many I hadn’t heard of.
I registered TheFragfest.com (a “fragfest” was what the games’ battles were called; the URL “fragfest.com” was already taken) around 2000. By then, my site was wildly popular (a lot from it is in Random Scribblings) and “the URL from bloody hell” got a lot of traffic. Mirrored at TheFragfest.com, the site with the short name got very little traffic.
Later, as I recounted at the site and in the book, I realized that people never got there from typing in the URL but from clicking a link from someone else’s site. The only people who would benefit from a short URL are businesses that advertise on other media.
So what domain name did Rental City (who I saw in a TV commercial) come up with? Not RentalCity.com, which would have been the logical choice. Perhaps the domain was taken, but if you google “rental city” the business in Champaign that was being advertised comes up, at least if you’re in Illinois. If so, RentalCutyCU.com for “Rental City Champaign-Urbana” would be logical.
They chose cuatrentalcity.com, which is how the URL looked on the TV screen; all lower case and all the same uniform color.
How damned stupid are web designers and advertising people these days? First, with no spaces or capitals or change in shade or color between words, it would take more than the few seconds it flashed on the screen to decipher the jumble of letters. They should advertise it as cuAtRentalCity.com. Still stupid, but better. Or make each word in the URL a different color or shade.
I started writing this when the commercial came to mind and I couldn’t remember what was being advertised, only that its URL was brain-dead stupid. The third error should have them very embarrassed. Trying to remember who the ad was for I googled all I could remember of it, “cuat,” and was pointed to the Urban Dictionary, which informed me that “cuat” was a cross between a cunt and a twat. I sure wouldn’t want that in my domain name!
The fourth error was that they also have RentalCityIL.com as an alternate URL that displays the exact same page as the moronic URL. So instead of advertising the easy to type and remember URL, they advertise the clumsy, hard to read URL with a ghetto vulgarity in it.
Then there’s TV channel 3 in Urbana, IL, WCIA. Their URL is wcia.com, right? Wrong. They dumbly chose “illinoishomepage.net. Yeah, I’m going to type that into my phone... what morons!
None of the other TV stations are any better. WICS? Their brainless URL is newschannel20.com, despite the fact that they’re always WICS but are only channel 20 over the air; cable and satellite change the channel numbers. Idiots!
I wouldn’t have penned this except that sort of idiocy is starting to be the norm. Stop it! Hire a webmaster who isn’t a drooling dunce.
Most of the sites aren’t any better than their doltish URLs. Newspapers are probably the worst, especially on a phone. Their advertising is simply annoying, with pop-ups, pop-unders, flashy, moving, distracting graphics. Yeah, I’m going to go out and buy a product that’s just annoyed the hell out of me by keeping me from reading what I wanted to read! Numbskulls. Quietly and unobtrusively show me something I’m interested in and you might get a customer, but I try my best to keep my money away from people who anger me. Like the brainless pinheadss whose corporate policy is to card geezers for beer (or try to), like Walmart or County Market or a few gas stations.
Or have ads that make me wait thirty seconds to read something that will take ten seconds to read. Stop it, dimwits!
Twenty years ago the only people with high speed internet connections were on college networks. Everyone else was on dial-up, even though phones hadn’t had dials since the early 1970s. Your internet connection today is thousands of times faster than twenty years ago, even your phone’s internet. Yet there are so many graphics, videos, and especially third party automatic linking to outside sites’ overloaded servers (those damned ads), lines of code that is useful only to advertisers, that most of their web pages render as slowly on today’s high speeds as they did on crawling slow dial-up back before commerce discovered the web. Often they load even slower.
What slows a web page isn’t your ISP, your wi-fi or your “antique” tablet, its a hundred under-powered and overloaded web servers each serving you an ad. Your computer has to make hundreds of connections to hundreds of sites to render that one web page. I’ll bet it annoys people who have data caps even more than it does me.
Cretins. Newspapers should insist on doing their online ad offerings as they’ve always done in print—serve the ads themselves so the page renders almost instantly. Stop stalking your viewers for the sake of your advertisers and insist that they simply supply a graphic for the newspaper to publish with a link to the advertiser’s site, almost exactly like they’ve done for hundreds of years. Every site should load as fast as mine does, at least when it doesn’t have a lot of large graphics, like in Huckleberry Finn, a book I host on my site. They should also disallow moving graphics; paper newspapers don’t have those damned distracting animations!
It infuriates me when I’m trying to read the news on my phone and a pop-up pops up. Half the time the “close” button won’t work because it’s too close to the edge of the screen, in real estate that’s already been mapped to browser functions.
And if I manage to close the pop-up before simply hitting the “back” button in disgust, there are even more (although less insane) ads. And the halfwits wonder why we use ad blockers! We NEED them, you mentally retarded newspaper people! And guess what? Serve the ads from the same server as the newspaper content and ad blockers won’t block them.
Some newspapers have an ad on the bottom of the phone’s screen, with a social media bar above it, with a title bar at the top, leaving only half of the phone’s screen for actual content.
Then there’s pandering to the aliterates, the TL;DR crowd who never read a book they weren’t forced to read in their entire lives. The people you see in waiting rooms who aren’t reading. “Tap to read the rest of the story” after the first paragraph. WTF? Now I have to wait another full minute for you to pull even more ads from overloaded, under-performing web servers. What is wrong with these people, are they all on cocaine or something? Or is their target audience people who are even dumber than they are?
What’s worse is the incredibly dimwitted morons whose pages won’t render on a phone at all, like AOL. Don’t they realize that’s how most people access the web these days?
Yeah, simpletons, annoy me and expect me back. I knew a bar owner like that.
He wasn’t in business very long. No wonder the newspapers are in trouble.