Bad Poetry Inspired by Bad Design Patterns

Caye Borreo
2 min readAug 18, 2022
Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

Hi folks! This is #5 of my Substack newsletter, Dev Dictionary. Feel free to subscribe to receive new posts and support my work. 💌

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.

deceptive (adjective)

• 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 (, 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:

  1. Call them out on social media for awareness.
  2. Put them up in a Hall of Shame.
  3. 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.

II. One-Two Punch: Misdirection and The Roach Motel

There was once a young man from Rizal,
Who wanted to cancel Adobe’s free trial.
He opened his account,
Only to find out,
He’ll owe thousands if he does — tragical.

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!

More from Dev Dictionary

array (n.)async (adj.)deceptive (adj.)hamburger (n.)terminal (n.)



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!