WorstPlans.com updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible plans and ideas!

Category: Communication

Improve your web site’s comment section by only allowing unique comments! Now every meme image will need to be one pixel different in order to be reposted. The Internet is saved!

Background:

Moderating the comments section of any web site is a thankless and un-ending task. But what if there were some way to make it slightly easier?

Proposal:

Instead of just allowing any comments, we can require that comments be totally unique and never-before-seen.

Once a comment is made, or an image is posted, a “fingerprint” [1] of that data is saved, and that exact comment can never be posted again (UI implementation shown in Figure 1).

[1] For example, an MD5 sum.

This will automatically get rid of many types of classic low-signal posts (e.g. the historical but rarely-seen-noawadays “First post”) and reposted memes. (This may or may not be desirable, depending on the type of site being run, of course.)

 

internet-message-board-only-unique-comments

Fig. 1: If a user posts some text (or an image) that was seen before, they will get an error message similar to this one.

Observation about images:

Since images must be unique to be reposted, the easiest way to re-post a meme image would be to make a small change to it and re-save it (or make no change at all, but re-save it using a lossy compression method). For a lossy image format like JPEG, this would lead to an interesting situation in which memes became more and more corrupted-looking as they are modified and re-posted over and over. This would even allow the lineage of a meme to be traced by looking at its variously-compressed versions.

PROS: May discourage certain low-effort posts that you’d want to moderate away anyway, saving moderator time and improving web site quality.

CONS: If a 32-digit hexadecimal number is used as the output of the “fingerprinting” hash function, then only a maximum of 16**32 comments can ever be made to your web site. If your web site gets 1 million unique posts per year, then some time in the year 340,282,366,920,938,448,064,954,991,902,720 A.D., all of the hash values will be used up, and people will no longer be able to post on your web site. Also, your visitor counter will probably have overflowed by then!

Journalists, take note! Print journalism can still be saved, with this one exotic culinary suggestion! Change your newspaper or magazine to this format today!

Background:

Print news has unfortunately been dealt a mortal blow by a combination of the Internet and mobile phones.

But there’s still one way to take advantage of the physical nature of printed news—a way that cannot be replicated by news on a phone!

Proposal:

We can bring printed newspapers and promote a healthy lifestyle in news aficionados with this one simple trick:

  • Instead of printing newspapers on paper, we print the news on a flat, edible substance (as shown in Figure 1).
  • Then, as you read the news, you can also eat the “newspaper.”
  • This also saves time at work, since the newspaper could serve as both reading material and lunch.
edible-news-with-text-contrast-improved.png

Fig. 1: Your daily news could be delivered in a number of different edible forms. The ideal surface must be flat and able to somehow be printed on.

Material Selection:

Candidate materials:

  • Matzah (or any other gigantic cracker / biscuit)
  • Seaweed. Caveat: may be too dark to be easily written on.
  • Beef jerky
  • Fruit Roll-ups”—these have the advantage of also being rollable, as the name implies (like a newspaper).
  • Bubble Tape.” Due to the narrowness of Bubble Tape, it may only be suitable for “news ticker”-style updates or 1930s stock ticker info.

PROS: A potentially healthy and efficient way of becoming more news-savvy. Be the first one in your neighborhood to get into the new “edible newspaper” health food craze!

CONS: You would definitely get crumbs everywhere.

 

This cutting-edge “Dial-up Internet” simulator enriches the web-browsing experience and promotes strong moral values even in a decadent Caligula-esque era!

Background:

Part 1: As Internet speeds have increased, web sites have become more and more enormous (Example: Figure 1).

Part 2: Additionally, people have become more and more accustomed to impulsively wasting time on the Internet.

 

usa_today_loading_2.png

Fig. 1: The USA Today front page in 2018 consists of 8.1 megabytes of data (including images and ads) over 1047 unique requests. It takes 47 seconds to fully load all resources.

The issue:

Here are the two problems that we can solve simultaneously:

  1. Enormous web pages are slow to load
  2. People impulsively browse the Internet and have no attention span, since new content is only a few moments away.

Proposal:

Although there already exist tools to artificially restrict Internet bandwidth, none of them provide the full “1998 desktop computer” experience.

Here, we propose a “Dial-up Internet simulator” that re-creates the dial-up Internet experience of the 1990s (Figure 2).

dialup-internet-simulator.png

Fig. 2: When you attempt to use any Internet service for the first time, a lengthy modem connection process occurs, as illustrated here. If you leave your connection idle for more than a few minutes, you will be disconnected and need to endure the dial-up process again.

This “dial-up simulator” system could be implemented either as a browser plug-in, or at the system level.

Conclusion:

The benefit of this system is two-fold:

  1. Web site designers can use it to preview their site in a low-bandwidth mode, encouraging them to design faster-loading sites.
  2. Site visitors can use it to encourage self-discipline and reduce impulsive time-wasting browsing.

PROS: Encourages reduced-size web pages, and discourages time-wasting on the Internet. Brings back the nearly-forgotten “modem connecting” noise.

CONS: None!

Errors-by-Mail: the new feature in computer operating systems! It supports the printer industry and makes it easier for you to keep track of any problems with your computer!

The issue:

When clicking “OK” on an error message on a computer or phone, it’s easy to instinctively dismiss the message and then later wonder what it said.

Unfortunately, the moment has passed, and there’s usually no way to read the message again!

This is especially true with phones, since an error message typically takes over the entire screen while it is displayed, making it impossible for a user to just put the error message into a corner and deal with it later (or never).

Proposal:

All logged errors on a computer could be sent to the user by physical mail (as in Figure 1), as follows:

  1. An error occurs on a system
  2. The system sends the error and the user’s postal address over the Internet to Errors-by-Mail, a hypothetical hip startup in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  3. Errors-by-Mail prints the error message and puts it in a regular envelope, then puts it in the mail.
  4. A few days later, the user has a hard copy of any error that occurred on their system. The user can then re-read this message at their leisure.

 

error-message-by-mail.jpg

Fig. 1: Here, a python error message has been helpfully mailed to the user. With this service, you would now have a record of any error messages that you encountered on your phone or computer.

PROS: Supports “Big Printer,” lets users easily keep a physical record of any problems with their computer or phone.

CONS: Postage could add up. But perhaps this is a positive feature, as it would encourage users to never do anything that might generate an error.

Prevent the UNWASHED MASSES from sharing their stupidity on your top-tier Internet forum with this new insane life-saving trick that you owe it to yourself to know! Don’t hike in the wilderness without this one weird tip!!!

Background:

Online discussion forums often have posts that look like this:

Air pollution actually SAVES 10,000 lives per day worldwide

>109 Comments

[Upvote] [Downvote] [View Comments]

Or:

Futuristic economic model allows Swedes to make $200,000 a year without having jobs

>274 Comments

[Upvote] [Downvote] [View Comments]

The issue:

Crucially, the comment page is usually completely separate from the original article, so readers can post their gut reactions to the headline without reading the associated article (example headline in Figure 1).

1-horsehaters.png

Fig. 1: An example Reddit-style headline. Better comment on it! In order to comment quickly, I’d better only read the text of the headline!

Proposal #1:

In order to be allowed to comment on an article, you have to show that you have actually read the article.

This works as follows:

  • The person who posted the original article also writes a couple of quiz questions that would be easily answered by anyone who had read the article.
  • In the comment box, the submit button is replaced by a question and several buttons with possible answers. (Figure 1.)
    • For example, “What country is the article about?”
      • With the possible response buttons:
        • “Submit comment: JAPAN
        • and “Submit comment: INDIA.”
    • If you click the wrong button, your comment is sent to the server and appears (to you) as if it has been posted, but it doesn’t show up to anyone else (this is also referred to as “shadow banning”).

 

2-buttons.png

Fig. 2: If you wanted to comment on the article in Figure 1, you’d need to click on one of the buttons here. If you click on the wrong one, your comment is deleted.

Proposal #2:

One problem with the first proposal is that it makes it slightly more annoying to post an article (since the original poster has to write a few quiz questions).

In proposal #2, the questions are generated automatically, and are extremely basic, like “What is the last word in the article?” or “What is the first word in the second paragraph of the article?”

(This is a method that was used in 1980s and 1990s computer game copy protection.)

Although this method would not prevent a user from just clicking the article, letting it load, finding the relevant word, and closing the article, it would probably increase the likelihood that the commenter would read at least a portion of the article, since it would have to at least be loaded in their browser.

Conclusion:

Figure 3 shows how the user interface might be implemented.

 

3-comment-example.png

Fig. 3: An example of how this might work in an actual Internet post.

PROS: Might improve the quality of Internet comments. Also a great way to annoy your users.

CONS: None! It’s the pinnacle of Internet commenting technology.

 

Stop worrying about a “loose cannon” coworker jeopardizing your company’s reputation with this one weird tip from 17th-century France!

The issue:

Sometimes, a representative for a company causes a public relations disaster by saying something dumb on camera (Figure 1).

Obviously, we’d like to avoid this.

But although it’s easy to avoid interview disasters over email (just have a PR department filter the outgoing emails), this doesn’t work for real-time in-person interactions.

ceo-normal

Fig. 1: This CEO has been unfortunate enough to say something really dumb while on camera. Millions of dollars of theoretical shareholder value were wiped out as a result! If only this could have been avoided.

Proposal:

Fortunately, we can fix this problem using an idea from the 1600s!

Specifically, when the CEO (or other employee) is scheduled for an interview, they can wear a soundproof helmet (perhaps styled after the Man in the Iron Mask helmet, Figure 2).

The process then works as follows:

  • The helmet is soundproof, but:
  • The helmet has an interior speaker and external microphone, so the wearer can hear the interviewer.
  • When the wearer speaks, there is a brief “tape delay” before sound is emitted from the helmet’s external speaker.
  • This delay gives a remote monitoring PR department the ability to quickly dub over any unacceptable interview responses with their own sanitized version.
ceo-helmet

Fig. 2: Interview woes: solved! Also removes the need for time-consuming hairstyling and makeup.

PROS: Never again worry about a company’s stock plummeting as a result of a catastrophic interview!

CONS: None! Except for the possibility of the interviewee being switched out with their identical twin, as in the plot of the 19th century Dumas novel (and/or 1998 film) The Man in the Iron Mask.