Content Stripping

Image via wikipedia

People seem unhappy with how they receive content on the web. Many web publishers seem intent on distracting readers and even tricking them. And readers are getting fed up.

Reader pushback started a few years ago with the arrival of options that let readers see a “text view” of their content. Apps and browsers let people strip out all the annoying graphic clutter from a webpage, many of which contained impossible-to-read, pale, anorexic typefaces.

Next readers pushed back by installing ad blockers in their browsers. They grew wary of popups, and animated ads that literally started to take over the webpage.

Publishers might want to ask how might jaded readers pushback next? There are several intriguing possibilities.

Coders and statisticians often endeavor to “normalize” data — to take the noise out of the data so that is easier to work with. Suppose readers followed suit, and had an option in their browser to normalize their web content, to squeeze out the noise. What might they be able to do?

First, readers might want to normalize the prices they see. Perhaps the browser could round all prices to the nearest whole value. Suddenly, all the $9.99 priced items will show as $10. Easier on the eyes, and more truthful as well.

Next, readers might want to strip out all the puffy and meaningless marketing words in the copy that seem like BS. Already, writers can use a tool like the Hemingway app to strip out unnecessary, meaningless words from text. Why not offer this service to readers as well? They could even add their most hated cliches and buzzwords to a personalized stop list, so they needn’t see these offensive terms any longer.

Finally, maybe readers could disrupt deceptive practices in A/B testing. Many recent studies about human economic behavior want to make us believe that people are “irrational” and prone to decide things against their better interests. Unscrupulous marketers test which way they can trick readers to make a decision most desired by the marketer. But suppose readers had the ability to choose how they viewed the choices they are given. Instead of marketers trying to decide which wording on a button gets the highest click rate, readers would have the ability to substitute the copy on buttons with a more neutral and accurate wording. With readers in charge of what they see, A/B testing could become meaningless.

A lot of readers want to strip the nonsense out of web content. They are not irrational for wanting to do that.

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