Chad Perrin: SOB

9 July 2008

an example of how reddit violates the POLS

Filed under: Geek — apotheon @ 03:59

One of the cardinal rules of Web design usability is that your navigation elements should be consistent across the entire site.

For a long time, I’ve liked reddit quite a lot. It’s sorta like Digg++, with a generally better quality of front-page headlines, better discussions, a better interface for essentially everything — just a whole lot of better. Of course, considering how awful much of Digg’s qualities are, that’s not so difficult.

Good ol’ reddit has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. I dislike some of them. One in particular is a very minor, perhaps even trivial, problem — but it’s such a blatant violation of the most basic of good design sense that it really bugs the crap out of me.

There’s a navigation element that appears on the comment page for all reddit headlines. Unfortunately, it’s located in a different place, and looks very different, depending on how you arrived at the comment page. So much for the Principle of Least Surprise.

I grabbed some screenshots to show examples of the problem. Look for the letters RPG in each case.

Example 1: The Website Title Line

category listed on the title line

In this example, the RPG cateogry link is located on the Website title line.

Example 2: The Headline

category listed with the headline

In this example, the RPG category link is located with the headline.

Example 3: The Submission Line

category listed in the submission line

In this example, the RPG category link is located in the submission line.

Because of the varied placement and appearance of the category link (in this case, for the RPG category), it’s not immediately recognizable as a link at all a lot of the time. This is exactly the sort of problem that consistent navigation elements are meant to avoid.

Does copyright really help — or stand in your way?

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 01:31

In two simple perspectives on copyright, I brought up some ways one can view copyright in a new light — a light not cast by the copyright dependent corporate industries represented by publishing houses and record labels. Obviously, as simple as they are, neither is meant to be a comprehensive treatment of the matter. I hope, though, that readers will at least consider the statements and how they match up with the reality of the matter. Don’t just dismiss them in your rush to offer your own position on the matter: actually think about them.

I decided to offer this response to one of the more common arguments for copyright law. It begins with a quote from a comment on two simple perspectives on copyright, which encapsulates that argument pretty well:

Copyright allows people to try to make money off of certain types of creative work, which gives them an incentive to actually produce that work.

the response


If you have exclusive rights to it, and it’s popular enough, you may never have to create anything again. For every successful creator who is motivated to create more, there’s another motivated to create less. Worse, in a corporate system, it’s inevitable that the creators will not be the major beneficiaries of the profits from their government granted monopolies on ideas.

Copyright isn’t even necessary to make a good living off your creativity. Selling discrete units is far from the only way to make money from your creations — especially now that technology has advanced so far beyond the days of the Gutenberg press. In fact, while those who’ve succumbed to inertia, who are convinced the only way to make a living on creative works is through copyright law because that’s the only way they’ve ever made money on creative works, lament the greater ease of copying and distributing their works without their permission, the truth is that the increased ease and decreased cost of copying and distribution could be a major windfall for content creators. Think about it — why do writers need publishing houses? Why do musicians need record labels?

They only “need” these corporations’ “help” because of the cost of copying and distributing their work. The amount of revenue you need to generate has to overcome these costs before you make any money — which is why publishing houses and record labels insist on acquiring your copyright in exchange for a relative pittance handout from the profits for your own work. With the ability to copy and distribute your own work so easily and cheaply represented by digital technologies (think: Internet), you can now distribute your work yourself, without going through a corporate middleman, and keep all the profits (minus some minimal overhead, of course).

You don’t need anyone else’s permission to publish your work. You don’t have to give anyone else the power to restrict your ability to do what you want with what you’ve created.

If you’re making money with your creativity, but you have to give up ownership of what you create, you’re getting taken for a ride. Obviously, you shouldn’t just abandon a reliable revenue stream if you need the money. What you should do, though, is look for a way to break free, to regain your independence, and to ensure that no corporation has the legal power to tell you what to do with your own creations.

Maybe, at a later date, I’ll go over some business models you might use to establish that independence, and to generate revenue without relying on the artificial scarcity model that relies on copyright law.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License