The 10 Biggest Web Annoyances

4. Need for Standards

Aggravation factor: 58 percent

Few things are more infuriating than going to a Web site and being told, "The page you have requested requires Internet Explorer to function properly."

(The photo at left spells out currently available browser support for Google Docs. Safari is not included)

The historical origin of this problem is Internet Explorer's incomplete (and sometimes incorrect) support for the core standards that are used to build Web pages. Because IE commands the largest market share among browsers, many Web designers build pages not to conform to standards, but to conform to IE. With Firefox's success, more and more sites (with the notable exception of some Microsoft sites) work properly in Mozilla's browser. But that leaves users of Opera or Safari out in the cold still. From online banking applications to newer Web 2.0-style sites, pages may not load properly on all browsers, which forces people to use different browsers for different sites.

If browsers were built to meet a consistent set of standards, this hiccup would disappear. Though each new version of IE has improved its support for standards, the problem persists because so many Web site developers continue to code only for IE, or IE and Firefox.

Having trouble creating a new document in Google Docs? The site's advice is so simplistic that it is unlikely to solve any real problems.

Among the high-profile offenders in this area are Google Docs, Washington Mutual, and Yahoo--none of which supports the Opera and Safari browsers.

5. Trolls in Forums

Aggravation factor: 58 percent

The Internet can be a spacious platform for all sorts of community interaction, provided that the participants conduct themselves in a civil manner. Too often, though, they don't.

"I hate when I am on a forum and people just post random comments about how much somebody is a jerk or how their religion saves," said PC World reader Roberta Dikeman of Dublin, California. "Can we please stay on topic--or post that drivel on your own sites!"

Hiding behind the pseudonymity of a Web alias, trolls disrupt useful discussions with ludicrous rants, inane threadjackings, personal insults, and abusive language, deliberately baiting forum regulars into pointless controversy and disharmony.

Trolls lurk everywhere--in Google and Yahoo newsgroups, in blog comment areas, and on specialty message boards created to offer technical help to users.

The free and fruitful exchange of ideas on the Web suffers when Web community owners have to moderate discussions and keep a tight rein on membership. But such actions are among the few effective ways to maintain civiliA-ty and sanity in online forums. Another approach is for users to police the community themselves by collectively ignoring or dismissing malicious interlopers.

6. Buying Event Tickets

Aggravation factor: 54 percent

Sites like Ticketmaster have managed to transform one of the Internet's biggest conveniences--the ability to buy and print out event tickets in a few mouse clicks--into one of its biggest rip-offs. Never mind that automated ticketing companies have dispensed with much of the traditional overhead (staff, rent, equipment) associated with selling tickets at a physical location. Never mind that they don't have to print the tickets you buy or ship them to your home.

Ticketmaster.com, the world's largest ticketing agent, adds a $9 "convenience charge" to the price of every $32.50 ticket for a concert in San Francisco, for example, plus a $4.90 "processing fee" on top of every order. So if you buy one ticket, you pay 42 percent of the face value of the ticket in fees to Ticketmaster! In contrast, assuming that the show isn't sold out, you can buy the same ticket at the Civic Auditorium box office sans convenience fees for $32.50--a savings of nearly $14.

One reason that Ticketmaster can impose such prices is that it faces little competition in the events ticketing business; the company holds exclusive contracts with the majority of venues in the United States. In 1994, the rock band Pearl Jam famously complained to the U.S. Department of Justice that TicketMaster's high prices were made possible by a monopoly, but the DOJ ultimately decided that Ticketmaster hadn't broken any antitrust laws.

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