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I had a situation on an auction website recently where I clicked an action button to investigate what the consequences of it were, but an accidental double click ended up committing the action (with financial repercussions, and terrible support to get it reversed, but that's another problem).

There was an item I listed that I wanted to see what the fees were for withdrawing it, so I click the "Withdraw listing" button, expecting to see a confirmation dialog, which did appear. However, the dialog opened up with the "Confirm" button positioned directly underneath the cursor, and accidentally double clicking confirmed the action.

It got me thinking, is there any general suggestion that confirming an irreversible action should require definite user input, e.g. moving the mouse to a different button, typing 'confirm', add a timer?

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  • It doesn't apply to NZ but here in the EU there's Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights, Article 8 – Formal requirements for distance contracts: "2. If a distance contract to be concluded by electronic means places the consumer under an obligation to pay, the trader shall make the consumer aware in a clear and prominent manner, and directly before the consumer places his order, [...]". Feb 28, 2023 at 0:50

2 Answers 2

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I think you've given an excellent example of a poor implementation of 'pacing the user'. The confirmation dialog was there, but it was too prone to erroneous input.

In my opinion however, having to type 'delete' for everything you ever delete is pretty ridiculous overkill. Rather, the effort that a user is asked to make, should be proportional to the severity of the consequences.

In your example it's not entirely clear whether you moved the mouse in between clicks whereby coincidentally pointing the cursor at the new button, or if they presented the second button at the same location as the 'withdraw listing' button. I'll assume the latter.

It sounds like withdrawing the listing equals permanent deletion, and that resubmitting it might require a lot of time. I think that they'll eliminate a lot of click noise if they simply swapped the 'Confirm withdraw' and 'Cancel' buttons, assuming they have an abort button (as they should).

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I think that the main problem is the placement of important actions one under the other and unreasoned user flow for confirmation action. Such an error should have come out at the testing stage, but as we can see, it was not noticed.

As Roo wrote: the effort that a user is asked to make, should be proportional to the severity of the consequences.

This means that if a user wants to, for example: delete an account, transfer a large amount of money, create a new user - admin, etc., then he must go through several levels of confirmation.

In addition, it is desirable to add a more complex confirmation option, for example: write text, select an element in the picture, a code word, or something else.

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