An anti-pattern (or antipattern) is a pattern used in social or business operations or software engineering that may be commonly used but is ineffective and/or counterproductive in practice. -Wikipedia

Despite frequently finding that the latest Wired magazine was arriving before I had made the time to properly sit down and read through the last months issue, I thought I would make a point to take an hour or so each month to read through the latest edition, so as a little late Christmas present to myself, I renewed my subscription.

Part of the sign-up process is the traditional "would you like us to send you promotional emails" tick box. To which my first reaction is "no, of course not, I'm only going to delete them before I read them, and get suspicious that its the source of every piece of spam I get for the next month."

Then I thought that actually, this is a part of the business model of the magazine. The print industry is going through some tough times right now, and if I really wanted to support them, I would let them send me some promotions. Maybe there might be something interesting…

This is the bit of the form where you have to tick the boxes (or not.) Pretty standard - if you don't want to share your email address, then tick the box.

Screenshot 2013-12-28 13.39.50.png

Except, the wording for the second box is different. Second time around, if you don't want to share your email address, then don't tick the box.

The design pattern you would expect here is for the idea of both pieces of the form to be the same – the first box is for Conde Nast, the second is for their partners, tick them if you want to receive emails. By going against that pattern, the form design would appear to be designed to "trick" you into accepting emails that you don't actually want to receive.

Maybe it's an accident, but to be honest I doubt it.

Because, then again, at the end of the order;

Screenshot 2013-12-28 13.54.20.png

First box - tick if you dont want to be contacted. Second box- tick if you do want to be contacted. Third box - tick if you dont want to be contacted.

The outcome for me was that I started paying attention and made sure that I wasn't going to receive anything from a company that was trying to trick me into allowing them to puts ads in my inbox.

From happy to share my details to carefully ensuring that I don't, through one simple act of web form design.