Dark Pattern at Quora.com

The Email from Quora

So as usual Quora does, i got an email, if i can answer “X” question because i answered “Y” related question, years ago.

I clicked on it with the intention to unsubscribe. When i clicked on the link, i was auto-logged in.

Hmm… that was smart and efficient. I don’t have to remember my password and the login steps are out of the way. Then i decided to log out.

How do i log-out ?

As the typical universal pattern for Log Out / Setting and Option goes

  • i clicked on my profile picture.
  • scanned, for log out.
  • did not find it.
  • closed the profile call-out.
  • scanned elsewhere

Can you take this quick test ?

In 5 Seconds, find out how to logout.

IMP: Get into a User mode and not a Designer Or Critic Mode.

Quora Logged In Snapshot
Quora Landing Page
Quora.com Profile Callout
(smaller version for mobile)

This is very well crafted design, by intent the Business doesn’t want to dissuade the user from logging out.

Observations

As for any user, it would be really difficult to find the log-out link.

The Dark Pattern Rises

I was almost convinced that logout link is not in this call out. But, i was committed to logout, i tried to find other places on the header…. Still nothing.

So i clicked it on the profile picture again, and scanned each text carefully.
There it was. Intentionally demoted visually.

Quora Logout Dark Pattern
Quora Logout Dark Pattern
Quora.com Profile Callout
(smaller version for mobile)

So from an Information Perspective, Quora does know that it’s important for users to find log-out link.

But it doesn’t want the user to find it easily. So they cheat the hierarchy.

I also quickly checked few of the popular software’s and sites for similar task. And they have it very clear.

Other Popular Sites

Reflecting

I even thought that this was not a dark pattern, but it was indeed done with good intent. Intent with an assumption that user would not want to logout… But then, the answer would be simple, if user does not intend to logout, he’d not initiate that action.

When Business Triumphs user needs

This is what happens when Business need is forced over the user. Some product manager is given a metric to chase, say.
– How many authenticated users per month ?

Quora is not alone

I’m not frequent on Quora. But I am frequent on LinkedIn and LinkedIn has a ton of dark patterns. Probably for some other blog post (it will need a series)

Fact: I did not actually logout there, but the Designer within me prompted me to write this post. Oh we designers.

What if I was asked to design this ?

Its easy to criticize sitting switching tabs in browser. Enough designers do that already. What would i have done if i was the designer and PM/Business head came to me asking to get X metric.

I think i would start with a “5 Whys” , maybe a few more whys to determine root cause / intent of the PM/Business head and then suggest an alternative which wont be a dark pattern.

Good Design is Honest – Dieter Rams

An Example of Honest Cookie Consent Form

Just came across this user consent form. Asking for consent is so common these days but rarely do the companies make it honest.

This design by @UsabilityGeek is just right, even the defaults are set to off. To execute a good design, you need intent.  #design

UsabilityGeek.com’s Cookie Consent Form Design

The Complete Moral Bankruptcy of Manipulating Human Psychology To Turn Users Into Addicts

The “Morality Of Manipulation” Only Exists On A Spectrum From “Highly Immoral” to “Absolutely, Relentlessly Evil.”

An argument on the moral implications and the regulation in use of Psychology to manipulate users to have them complete / repeat a desired outcome.

https://hackernoon.com/the-complete-moral-bankruptcy-of-manipulating-human-psychology-to-turn-users-into-addicts-d09b98281ef?token=TCPWvHKaC6sQrLis

A look back at Y-Combinator

Today, i came across this Jessica Livingston Co-Founder and Partner at Y-Combinator. In brief it talks about the root of Y-Combinator

The part which i liked most is:

Keep working on something that a few people love. The press may ignore you, but users won’t, and that’s what matters. Laboring away in obscurity, as frightening as it feels at the time, is the way a lot of good things happen. Maybe the way most good things happen.