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I've just published a blog article on Google's deceivingly clever trick to increase the opt-in rate for its Chrome usage statistics collection program. Take a look at the Chrome ToS screen, especially the opt-in part at the bottom of the screen:

Chrome's ToS screen

To me this feels like a misleading attempt to improve the opt-in rate of the usage collection program and can therefor be marked as a dark pattern. However, if you look at the screen's purpose you could also argue that it's just a second 'agreement' the user enters into.

Am I right to call this a dark pattern or am I being too paranoid about this?

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For clarification, I believe the posters concern here is the design that makes it appear as though you are accepting the terms of usage. It looks similar to a checkbox that would be in that location normally to accept the terms, however in this case, you can leave it unchecked and still accept terms –  Nrgdallas Apr 1 '13 at 21:14

5 Answers 5

I don't see this as a dark pattern at all.

I haven't done any testing on this, but I've never been the slightest confused about that. The opt in is directly related to the TOS, and this seems to be a good place to put it.

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If it's not a dark pattern, it's pretty close. I call shenanigans on it. Obviously they are attempting to increase enrollment by leveraging the rote pattern of clicking the checkbox and submitting the ToS form. They are relying on the universal fact that no one reads any of this stuff. Sneaky. If they wanted to be on the level. They should put that statement below the submit button so that people understand its extra... Like a P.S. in a letter.

But they missed the obvious way to get sign ups, Make it opt out vs opt in! All they have to do is make it checked by default, place it wherever they wanted and enrollment would probably be 100%.

Here is a study that shows how default settings... opt in vs opt out greatly affect enrollment in programs. Basically, in Belgium, organ donor rates are 100%. The Netherlands 28% after a huge campaign to get people to donate their organs. Why? the forms in Belgium have organ donation as opt out, Holland, opt in. It's a fascinating read on how defults influence our decisions.

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/38/15201.full.pdf+html?sid=18280d6f-e409-4572-9be1-0050f523da54

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In my opinion, this is not a dark practice.

It doesn't fall into the user experience category nearly as much as it lends itself to user rights (or something similar). This is standard practice by many software companies, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo!, Blackberry, etc.

The "dark"-ness depends on the purpose of the interaction. The user data and feedback that google will receive will provide an excellent understanding of the usage patterns. They can then analyze any problem areas, and improve the user experience.

Privacy, profiling and anonymity are other issues. This? Not dark per se.

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The checkbox's label can be misleading as it uses a passive form without any possessive pronouns. The outcome is put first while the medium is second.

Although this must be quite efficient from a conversion perspective it forces users to read and process the whole sentence. This is not ideal in terms of UX but not enough to be labelled as a dark pattern.

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Users will register this as another Accept & Continue pattern, likely at an unconscious level.

For the [ Download ] and [ I agree ] buttons, there is no risk involved. As with many things of this nature, the mind is in "flow-through" mode and relies on visual cues. This process is just like the Next, Next, I agree, Finish process of software installation.

Now, if this check box been separate from the [Accept and Download] button, it would've been acceptable. In the present form? It is certainly deceitful, and likely qualifies as a dark pattern.

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