There’s a term for the way you’re blasted with tons of marketing emails after overlooking that checked-by-default checkbox — you just fell for a deceptive design pattern. It was coined in 2010 by user experience designer Harry Brignull, but they’ve been bugging humankind for possibly longer.
• tending or having power to cause someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid : tending or having power to deceive (Merriam-Webster, 2022)
• deceptive design patterns (also called dark patterns): tricks used in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn’t mean to, like buying or signing up for something (deceptive.design, 2022)
Nowadays, dark patterns are even more rampant. How do we call everyone’s attention, especially those of regulators, to companies unashamedly benefiting from deceiving their users? Some ideas:
- Call them out on social media for awareness.
- Put them up in a Hall of Shame.
- Write poems about them. (Wait, what?)
I’m resorting to the third option in honor of National Bad Poetry Day. Sit down, relax, and enjoy some dark patterns-inspired limericks. (Whether they’re passably bad is up to you, but the fact that they’re inspired by evil makes them… bad poems by default.)
I. Warning My Hobbyist Grandfather About Privacy Zuckering
There was a pale man from White Plains,
Who mined everyone’s data for his gains.
If you do not opt out
Of personalization, no doubt —
You’ll be targeted by ads of model trains.
III. Duo, Save Your Tears — It’s Just Italian
There once was a green owl in a screen,
Who was invested in my language-learning.
When I checked my mail,
After being gone for a day,
Dio mio, the bird won’t stop crying!
- 📺 Dark Patterns: How design seeks to control us by Sally Woellner (TEDxSydney, 2022)
- 📺 The Social Dilemma (Netflix, 2020)
- 📖 7 Famous Limerick Examples That Will Inspire You to Write Your Own by Chloë Nannestad (Reader’s Digest, 2021)
If shenanigans like this are your cup of tea, feel free to subscribe to Dev Dictionary 💌 (Still dropping some bars, ha.)
And if this inspired you to write your own limericks, let’s hear it in the comments. Happy rhyming!