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July 26, 2009 06:38
As the regulars certainly know, and more than a few new anons have discovered, rather abruptly, I have the capability, through the use of some mildly clever AJAX scripting, to redirect a specific user, on a specific page, to any other page on the site, or for that matter, anywhere else on the internet. While the potential abuse for such a feature is rather high, I usually only use it send someone to the specific FAQ page that answers their very frequently asked question. Occasionally I might send someone to google maps, or weather.com or wikipedia when the situation warrants it, but I never send anyone anywhere obscene..... although I certainly could.
However, getting back to the point of this entry. Why do this at all? I mean, it would SEEM obvious. Having a well written, thoughtful, and more or less complete response to the more regularly asked qusetions would seem to provide a better answer than actually typing in a new response each and every time it's asked. If I'm feeling snarky I may do so anyway, but most of the time, I'm busy. I can easily field questions from 10 anons if they ask simple questions and I can send them off to the appropriate page with the click of 3 links on the admin page, and while they're off reading the novel I just provided them with, I can be responding to the other users... who are inevitably also asking similar questions.
Most people don't have a problem with any of this.
A few people do.
So... why? For that matter, lets take that question literally, with regards to the site. Why do I do this. What made me do this? Good questions. Thankfully, I have an answer. It's an answer so frequently asked and so historically significant, that it even gets its own prominant place on the sidebar, very close to the top. I even have multiple versions of this document, which convey the same basic message, but are organized differently, depending on if I think someone just wants the story, or if someone is looking for a more surgically targeted answer to a specific subset of Why why WHY! In any event, they ask why, I send them there. THEY are the ones who bothered to ask the question, and I made an assumption that they wanted an answer. Sometimes, it would appear that is not the case. Some will come back, almost immediately (certainly not having read any of it), complaining that they wanted me to actually give them the answer right there in the message box. They didn't want to go READ anything.... (apparently my messages are exempt from that restriction).
This brings up another curious ponderance. I can understand someone not wanting to dedicate half their day to combing through my site, reading every page of literary masterpieces that I have composed over the years. However, it seems that almost everyone is able to find the chat window, the field to send their messages, and figure out how to send them without any problem whatsoever. Of course, very few read the policy link right above it, but that's beside the point. The ability to send messages to me seems to even cross cultural and language boundaires, as people who don't speak ANY English have no problem finding the chat field. However, a large number of people can't find the lamps. Or the other cams. This MIGHT have to do with placement on the page. There have been studies involving what parts of a webpage get the eyeball attention and what parts tend not to. It's possible people see the cam and the chat window and just ... miss the rest of it.
Considering that possibility, I have occasionally moved things around in the main theme. The cam alwyas stays in the upper left quadrant, but I've moved the message window around. They always find it, no matter where on the page it is. But they still miss everything else. Is this some type of learned browsing habit? The ability to instinctively spot any means of communication, especially on a live, interative site such as this one? What would happen if I deprived them of it? Would they spend more time reading, or just leave quicker? Is the chat window an anchor that keeps them here a few minutes longer than they otherwise would? Are the simple questions they ask simply their brain's way of making an excuse to stick around for a few more seconds, when habit is trying to push them to continue browsing? In this case, I might be able to see the offense. They're already on edge. They've broken their own personal rule and subjected themselves to a timesink. And instead of the response they were expecting... they get a whole new page. A page filled with lots of gory details, of which they simply have no intention of ever getting into. They never wanted to know in the first place. Their brain tricked them and now things have gotten out of hand.
At least, that's my theory on it. I've also noticed another change in behavior. When I first implemented my little page reloading trick, most people were stunned and then either impressed or scared as a result. A lot of people thought I was hacking their computer. The rest wanted to know how the heck I did it. I still get a few of those now and then, but for the most part, nobody even seems surprised. Either other sites are doing it now, or people have gotten smarter to the point where the concept of their browser suddenly changing to another page just isn't a revolutionary event anymore. With all of the full page advertising you see out there, that covers the whole page, apparently it's just not much of a surprise anymore. In fact, it's also possible that people are equating my page reloading tricks with the advertisements they see elsewhere. That MIGHT explain some of their annoyance. Perhaps a nice notice message, as the page is forwarding, comforting them.. telling them how we're doing this as a favor to them, to ensure that they get the very best answer that money can buy....
Ehh.. who am I kidding.. they won't read it anyway.