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I am reading about Dark Patterns but it is confusing if there is a solution for it. I have read numerous types of them and have gone through research papers but I couldn't find a solution to it.

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  • Do you have an example of a dark pattern you can't find a solution for? Generally, the answer is simply to stop trying to trick your users. – Elliot Jan 13 at 21:09
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    I am always happy for people to raise awareness about design ethics and its implications, however I would suggest changing this to be a more specific question that can be answered within the format and guidelines of UXSE. As the question stands it is probably more suited to a chatroom discussion rather than a Q&A :) – Michael Lai Jan 14 at 0:06
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From the description (emphasis added):

A design pattern which is carefully crafted to accomplish some result but does not have the user’s interests in mind.

In other words, a dark pattern is an aspect of a user's experience in which they are intentionally taken advantage of; the site/developers are not designing an experience best suited to meet their customers' needs. Instead, they have contrived one in which their own wants (or stakeholders' desires) take priority.

Dark patterns can emerge through a number of ways. A non-exhaustive list of strategies includes:

  • lack of transparency to the user as to what the status of the system is
  • confusing wording or interfaces
  • hiding options or settings out of plain view
  • preselecting options that the user may not want
  • presenting upgrade paths as if they are necessary for basic functionality
  • making it particularly difficult to cancel a service

The solution to avoiding dark patterns, naturally, is to simply not design in a way that attempts to usurp users of their power of choice.

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One could argue that 'dark' patterns are not necessarily bad in itself, because often they are just designed and/or implemented without validating whether it is fit for purpose. Other times there is a malicious or harmful intent not clearly communicated to the user, and again the patterns are not the issue here because in other contexts they would be perfectly suitable.

In both instances, education on the part of designers and developers is the key here. It is the root cause of the problem that most designers and developers are not trained or equipped to deal with ethical problems, and the managers also don't have the tools required to manage this at their level. Most importantly, the company vision and culture needs to be authentic in its goal to try and help the users rather than seek profit.

There's no quick and easy fix to this, but there are steps we can start to take towards addressing this. There are other questions with the design ethics tag that you might also want to have a look.

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    To the point! May be because there is no constitutional law in place to restrict certain companies from tricking the users. (Like Data Privacy laws). Design ethics education is the must to know aspect that many companies are not in favour of. @Michael. Could you please share any reference on this? – Ashwin Kulkarni Jan 14 at 2:02
  • @AshwinKulkarni glad that you have an interest in this topic! I think Mike Monteiro seems to be the go to person for topics in design ethics: monteiro.medium.com I have also written articles on this topic but I suggest going to the Ethical Design Manifesto as a starting point (2017.ind.ie/ethical-design) and other questions tagged "design ethics" and "ethics" on UXSE :) – Michael Lai Jan 14 at 2:24
  • Thank you! 2017.ind.ie/ethical-design seems to be good place like you said. – Ashwin Kulkarni Jan 14 at 2:41

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