One Less Reader

A reader writes:

You should do an article about how pop-ups drive people away from websites, even after the viewer opts out.  You can start with me and how I won’t be returning to your site, or reading your next book, or promoting it by word-of-mouth, because of your annoying “recommended for you” pop-up.

Do not respond to this email.



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  1. Lawrence says:

    She’s missing so much.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9
  2. Fred says:

    People still set their browsers to allow pop-ups?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 72 Thumb down 9
    • Mike B says:

      I could probably count the number of websites this person is able to return to on one hand if non popups is their criteria.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6
  3. Will says:

    You have pop-ups? Hurrah for browser add-ons, as I never knew you had them.

    Now background music that automatically plays on page load and I can’t turn off? I’ll close that tab ASAP and never return.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 72 Thumb down 1
    • James says:

      I didn’t know the Freakonomics site had pop-ups either. As for the music, you can also set your system not to allow sound.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3
      • Will says:

        Well there are many sounds my computer – and browsers – make that I want to hear, like pandora, so turning off all sounds is not desirable either!

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • Neil (SM) says:

      I think he’s referring to those “recommended for you” links that appear on the bottom-right. Not really traditional pop-up ads; they just refer to other articles in this blog.

      Does your add-on block those also? And in that case, I wonder why doesn’t Angry Letter Writer just get one?

      FWIW I stopped reading this blog months ago. And I stopped posting comments too! 😉

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
      • Will says:

        I use firefox and it is either Adblock Plus or NoScript that prevents the ‘recommended’ thing from appearing.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. Frank says:

    We apparently have very different definitions of pop-up. I guess they really wanted to see the add your “pop-up” recommendation was covering? Or I guess maybe their monitor resolution is really low?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2
    • Boris says:

      I have a 1920×1200 monitor. I like to have two browser windows side by side, so my browser windows are about 950px wide. The “pop-up” as you put it routinely covers up both article text and comments for me.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3
  5. T says:

    Learn to use an ad blocker to make these annoyances go away.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4
  6. mr. obbs says:

    What a hardo!

    (odds on him still reading the next book?)

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6
  7. Caleb b says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Disliked! Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 26
    • Lew says:

      Here’s a second to your off-topic but non-abusive comment. I slept through what my son said is the best half of pro basketball he has seen all year last night.

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  8. Jay says:

    That reader didn’t realize he could opt out of the recommendations by clicking on the “?” in the recommendation box, selecting “I would like to opt out of recommendations (if you clear your cookies you will have to opt-out again)”, and then clicking the “save” button. Oh well.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 7
    • John says:

      No, the reader says that they opted out and that the popup returns. It also seems to sit there even once you opt out, only minimized.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1
      • John says:

        I take the second part back; it disappears on page reload.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
      • YX says:

        It’s cookie based, so that doesn’t work if you don’t store cookie, or you regularly clean out cookie (which you should do).

        I could do without the pop up, it’s annoying, but not to the degree of missing good content.

        On the other hand, the quality of content is not exactly trending in a good direction.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
      • Neil (SM) says:

        I guess if he made sure to store cookies and didn’t erase that cookie — for me I use CCleaner to clear browser cache & cookies, which has the option of selecting cookies to keep when you clean. Sounds like a minor pain, but it’s quite useful for clearing your cache frequently but still maintaining your logged-on status at sites you frequent.

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      • DH says:

        I also have repeatedly tried to opt out and it just keeps coming back.

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    • Justin says:

      Nice! I had no idea you could turn those off either. Usually a “?” symbol means “Help”, not “Disable this feature”.

      That little box annoyed me, although not enough to make me want to boycott Freakonomics altogether. Jeez.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0
    • anonymouse says:

      Nice to see a useful comment amongst all the snark.

      The reader who sent the email might have been a bit over the top in making their point, but I agree with regard to the recommendation pop-up being annoying. I generally read all of the posts in an RSS newsreader and have avoided clicking through to the webpage to see comments/add my own because of that feature.

      Also – the option to opt out is nice, but a “?” isn’t exactly a standard interface cue for setting preferences, and I don’t think the reader should be faulted for not having guessed what’s behind the mystery door.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0
    • Tom says:

      While this is good to know, it’s bad design. A “?” doesn’t mean “disable popup” to anyone I asked. Ditch the “?” and add “disable” instead.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0