Sites We Hate
In the preceding pages, we spread the love. Now, we smear the hate. We deliberated long and hard, relying on empirical evidence as much as personal dislike to make our case against the big kahunas (AOL Mail) and the annoying small fry (Cockybastard.com).
Terminate with X-Treme Prejudice
In the case of X10, the line between love and hate is thick and impenetrable. On a daily basis, this online store subjects millions of surfers to pop-up ads more chafing than a shoe full of wet sand. In the first quarter of 2001 alone, Jupiter Media Metrix estimates that 32.8 percent of all Web users were exposed to the pop-up scourge at various points around the Net. To be fair, X10 provides an option for suppressing its ads, at [x10.com/x10ads.htm]; on the downside, it only works for 30 days. These people must be stopped. [x10.com]
2) AOL Mail
You’ve Got Hell
AOL’s clunky interface remains stuck in a time warp—and the Web-based version is even worse. For starters, it tends to trash all incoming missives after just one week (regardless of whether you’ve clicked Keep as New). Furthermore, you can’t sort your mailbox by subject or name. You can’t create a signature file. You can’t change message styles or fonts. We could go on, but you get the picture. We only wish AOL would. [aolmail.aol.com]
A Diet Low in Humble Pie
Q: What do you get when exhibitionism collides with HTML? A: John Halcyon Styn’s vainglorious Web shrine. The site took top honors at the 2000 Webby Awards for Best Personal Site, but we’d like to nominate it for Best Example of Unbridled Narcissism Online. When Styn isn’t busy modeling another gender-bending outfit, he’s either naked or, in a sort of vanity reductio ad absurdum, wearing a T-shirt with his own URL emblazoned on it. Not since Zsa Zsa Gabor has someone tried so hard to be famous for the sake of being famous. In a universe teeming with vanity sites, this is the one to beat. [cockybastard.com]
Not a Funny Bone in Your Body
There are some e-mail gags that, like a hacking cough, simply refuse to go away. No forward is more emblematic of this than the bogus photo of the sightseer atop the World Trade Center, allegedly taken seconds before the September 11 attacks. When the image first began circulating online, we thought it was marginally clever, albeit tasteless. And okay, so we chuckled at the first few takeoffs (TouristGuy at the Hindenberg disaster, for example). Then Tourist of Death came along and posted hundreds of poorly doctored images of the same guy in all sorts of moronic scenarios. Note to webmaster: See comedy no-no No. 17—beating a dead horse. [touristofdeath.com]
A Wolf in a Sheep’s Web Site
At first glance, Martin Luther King Jr.: An Historical Examination seems straightforward enough. It shows a picture of the slain civil rights leader, along with links purporting to lead to information about his life and work. But look more closely and you’ll note that one link is called “Jews & Civil Rights” (it leads to a paranoid anti-Semitic essay by David Duke). In fact, all the links lead to some type of un-King-like screed (“The Beast as Saint” is one memorable title) or foul call to action (“Bring the Dream to life in your town! Download flyers to pass out at your school”). This deceptively named hate site is one of the most notorious and cynical ruses in Internet history—who knows how many students have followed its links for a school paper?—and earns the distinction of being our most hated “hate” site. [martinlutherking.org]
The Juice, Still Loose
Most people, when accused of a double murder and then acquitted in criminal court—but still found “responsible” for it in civil court—would just slink away somewhere and hope as few people as possible would notice. But not our pal the Juice. AskOJ, the online incarnation of America’s favorite sociopath, hosted chats with him at one point. We’re thankful that at least the site hasn’t been updated in a while, but can’t someone delete this once and for all? [www.askoj.com]
Hang It Up, Already
In 2000, MCI WorldCom settled with the FCC for $3.5 million for “slamming” (the practice of switching consumers’ long-distance service without consent). You’d think something like that might make the telecommunications behemoth bend over backward to serve its customers well. Ha. Its poorly designed site, MCI.com, confirms our suspicion that the multiplicity of calling plans exists primarily to confuse consumers. Of course, you could always get more info in the FAQ section. Oh, that’s right—there isn’t one. It’s no wonder that not one but three MCI telecom services made the Top 10 worst rated companies list on PlanetFeedback [planetfeedback.com]. MCI fares just as poorly on Epinions.com, where, as of press time, 89 percent of consumers voted against recommending the service to others. [mci.com]
Excuse Our Bile-Sharing, But…
The subscription-based doppelgänger that is posing as Napster is a shadow of the program we fondly remember. The original offered us songs of proms past, letting us relive guilty pleasures like the Cure. The truth is, we’d gladly have paid for the music, given the option. Okay, so we don’t really hate Napster itself. But we wholeheartedly hate the fate of Napster—the relaunched site just reminds us of our deep loss. [napster.com]
Stars and Strippers
At WhiteHouse.com, it’s unlikely you’ll learn much about the war on terrorism or President Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney. However, you will discover lewd images of “Hot Interns” draped in American flags, as well as videos of the “First Ladies” of X-rated cinema. The site is not a vestige of the Clinton administration, nor is it affiliated with the real White House [whitehouse.gov] site. It’s a porn site that uses a misleading domain—.com, instead of .gov—to direct traffic to itself; the deliberate misnaming tactic is a common one used by sleazy sites (see No. 5 in this list). We’re not sure which makes us gnash our teeth more: knowing that young children are accidentally stumbling upon the site’s “Teen Buffet” or that the Feds lacked the foresight to register the .com version in the first place. [whitehouse.com]
The Trite Stuff
Cyberspace may be infinite, but frankly there are some sites for which there is simply no more room online. While there’s no defining criteria for such space-wasters, they tend to possess one or several of the following attributes: midi music, kitten wallpaper, an empty guest book, and an “under construction” logo. Of course, to be totally contemptible, the site’s title must also include some clever combination of the following words (feel free to mix and match from columns A, B, C, and D).
A. B. C. D.
Oolah’s Evil Lair of Whoopass
Web Goddess’s Little Corner of Sailormoon
The Porter Family’s Awesome Gallery of Dragonball Z
Captain’s Trippy Shack of Wassup!!!
Geekboy’s Cool Crib of Coolness
Tobias’s Peculiar Cyberworld of Tori Amos
Hui Wei’s Unofficial House o’ Hijinx
Lovey’s Cute Fan Club of Edmonton Oilers
Bunnygirl’s Ultimate List of Ate-My-Balls Links
Zerb’s Time-Wasting World of Spock
DeTh ShADoW’s Lame Page of Simpsons Sounds
Viking’s One-and-Only Webcam of Linux and Mac Stuff
Peewee’s Twisted Playhouse of Warez
MacDaddy’s ’80s Temple of Movie Reviews
Mr. Lucky’s Super-Phat Domain of Free Stuff
Spaz’s Secret Bible of Redneck Jokes
Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Yahoo! Internet Life.