Quite quickly after I wrote my email to Findings about their email notification anti-pattern, I got a response back from Lauren Leto:
Give it to us. I applaud you shouting at us from a rooftop. I also hate defaulting to all notifications and agree that it was a douchebag startup move but can assure it was one made accidentally - a horrible oversight that the entire team feels bad about and will work to amend for you and the rest of our users.
We try to be a site for the common user - nothing like Facebook taking cheap shots wherever they can. I hope we haven’t forever turned you off from our site. Relaunches are hard and mistakes were made but nothing like this will happen again.
Apart from the use of the passive voice (“mistakes were made” rather than “we made mistakes”), that’s a pretty damn good response. She didn’t try to defend or justify the behaviour. That’s good.
She also asked if there was anything they could do to make it up to me. I asked if I could publish their response here. “Yeah, feel free to post”, she said.
I think it’s important that situations like this get documented. It could be especially useful for new start-ups who might be thinking about indulging in a bit of “growth hacking” (spit!) under the impression that this kind of behaviour is acceptable just because other start-ups—like Findings—implemented the email notification anti-pattern.
As Lauren said:
I think every startup manages to mess up one of these at some point in their life, either willingly or unwillingly. A clear listing of all offenses could be useful to everyone.
That’s where Harry’s Dark Patterns wiki comes in:
The purpose of this pattern library is to “name and shame” Dark Patterns and the companies that use them.
- For consumers, forewarned is fore-armed.
- For brand-owners, the bad-press associated with being named as an offender should discourage usage.
- For designers, this site provides ammunition to refuse unethical requests by our clients / bosses. (e.g. “I won’t implement opt-out defaults for the insurance upsells because that practice is considered unethical and it will get you unwanted bad press.”)
The email notification anti-pattern isn’t yet listed on the wiki. I’ll see if I can get Harry to add it.