Eric Crews

Passing on the Double Underline

by Eric Crews | Sep 30, 2010
Surfing the Web nowadays, I guess you get used to being bombarded by advertisements on almost every Web site that you visit …. no, not THOSE sites … I’m talking about your normal everyday run-of-the-mill Web sites. I usually make it a point not to click on any paid ads that I happen run across … mainly just for spite. Well, that and because I feel like I’m harassed enough by advertising in other media during the course of a day. Even when I do a generic Google search, I avoid the “sponsored links” like the plague. Again, I really don’t have one significant reason for this other than they happen to be “ads” and they happen to annoy me. The few that I actually have clicked on in the past gave me no results related to my initial search so that may have also jaded my enthusiasm for them. That being said, lately I’ve also become annoyed by the double underlined links that seem to permeate all of the articles or blogs that I’ve been reading. I’m one of those who just happens to move the mouse around as I’m reading a Web page and without fail I inadvertently mouse over an “in text advertisement” (usually marked by double underlines) within the content. As soon as this happens, the ad immediately pops up –sometimes playing automatically –severely distracting me from what I was trying to read. To me, these types of ads are highly invasive and have never motivated me to buy any of the products being pitched by them. Web usability expert Jakob Nielson seems to feel the same way and sums it up quite nicely by stating that “One of misery design’s most insidious recent examples is the idea of embedding links to advertising on the actual words of an article using a service like IntelliTxt. By sullying the very concept of navigation, such ads not only damage the user experience on the host site, they poison the well for all websites. Such links make users even less likely to navigate sites, and more likely to turn to trusted search engines to guide them to the next page.” Today, I was overjoyed to find some instructions (note the “tips & warnings section) for turning off these ads. This solution worked for the particular site I was on, but may not work on all sites. I also ran across a Firefox browser add-on called “Greasemonkey” that you can customize to your liking, but I haven’t installed it yet. Greasemonkey can do a lot more that just block in-text ads and does seem to be a little more involved, but either option might be worth a try if you’re as tired of those annoying double underlines as I am.
  • Usability

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