Because it can’t all be sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and Google Hummingbirds.

We at Econsultancy consider ourselves as promoters of best practice. ‘Achieve Digital Excellence’ reads our brand new strapline in the big red dot up there, and with this modus operandi we carry a great responsibility.

The responsibility of wading through the darkest digital waters (confusing and potentially dangerous metaphor alert) and remaining constantly poised to spear the very best of the internet. We do so in order to bring you the most considered insight, through research, practice, good old fashioned investigation and occasionally asking Twitter for help.

Of course for every tasty salmon we catch, we also have a net-full of bottom feeding suction eels too. We don’t really know what to do with them and they’re piling up around the floor of the boat.

So let us unburden our unpleasant haul upon you, with this round-up of the worst things to happen to the internet in 2013:

(not provided)

By moving towards making all searches secure, Google has stolen your search-term data from Analytics. It'll probably knock your dinner-tray out of your hands and put your head down the toilet too, if you don't start sticking up for yourself.

This chart shows how referred traffic is quickly approaching 100% (not provided):

Help is at hand however, as Graham Charlton reveals eight alternatives and workarounds for missing data in his article from October.

The inexplicable popularity of Snapchat

Yes it’s older than 2013, but this year the most pointless social media platform of all time (until Justin Bieber eventually releases his ‘selfie network’) really obtained purchase in popular consciousness.

I rant about it here in my article that was perhaps more diplomatically titled than I intended, is Snapchat right for your brand? but basically it’s a user-unfriendly haven for cyber-bullies that should be stomped out quickly and without mercy.

Snapchat has already turned down two multi-billion-dollar cash offers from Facebook to buy it out so surely, hubristically, its time is running out.

Plus it has the worst homepage, ever.

I didn't even hyperlink the image. THAT'S how little respect I have for it.

Vine selfies

Vine made a small but unpleasantly exploitable tweak in April, which allowed Viners the ability to use the iPhone’s front-facing camera.

Thus the ‘Vine selfie’ was belched from hell. It’s smugly demonstrated above by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

An open letter to…

Dear All

Let’s do our bit for the Royal Mail and pop our lengthy missives in an envelope, pay for a stamp and keep our personal feelings towards the recipient directed solely at the recipient, shall we?

Yours truly,



WHSmith took its entire website offline after it found that pornographic eBooks were available through its Kobo e-reader in a move that showed little understanding of digital or even basic common sense

Imagine a parent finding a nudie-mag underneath their son's mattress, and then setting fire to his bedroom.

The blackout lasted for four whole days, and David Moth covers the damage done to its sales, PPC and brand here.


I could talk for hours about how much I hate Bitstrips and how if I see one of my Facebook friends publishing a Bitstrip I suddenly like them a lot less.

This article isn’t just for the ventilation of spleen though, let’s put some of that ‘best practice guidance’ to use and offer some help as well.

Here’s how you block Bitstrips from your Facebook wall:

Privacy Settings (on the right-hand side)>Blocking (left-hand side)>Block Apps (at the bottom)>Type in 'bitstrips'>Press Enter.

You’re welcome.


Nominet has ploughed ahead with its rolling out of .uk domain names despite almost nationwide revulsion and protestation at the idea.

Devaluing the long established and adding to online businesses' digital spend, Nominet’s desire for internet users to be spared the exhaustion of typing three extra characters into a URL seems motivated by greed and ignorance.

Here are seven more reasons why .uk domains are a bad idea to really get the blood boiling.

Evian's 'Baby & Me' advert

Baffling and upsetting in equal measure. I don't know who this is meant to appeal to, nor do I wish to find out.

Miley Cyrus

With the singularly offensive appropriation and exploitation of a black culture footnote, and so very few clothes, Miley Cyrus matched the presidential elections and the Superbowl in tweets-per-minute during her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September with 300,000 TPM.

And with every minute that has passed since, the world has seemed a much darker, hollower place to live.

Gmail’s triple-tabbed layout

Pretty great if you’re a non-marketer. Pretty rubbish if you’re a marketer and email marketing is integral to your strategy.

Mailchimp reported that open-rates dropped from 13% to 12%, which as Forbes suggests doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’ve emailed 100,000 people, it means 1,000 fewer people saw it than normal.


I had to open this one up to a democratic system of debate, as I’m actually quite fond of Apple’s complete overhaul of its operating system, however I have to listen to the consensus for this and the consensus is saying “it’s a pile of crap.” 

Here are five major user experience problems with iOS7, but the general gist is that every iPhone user had to undo hundreds of hours of learning just to begin getting to grips with it.

The swipe ambiguity, especially within Safari, is still a bit of a nightmare, with unexpected menus popping out all over the shop.

Where did that come from?!

I’ll just sneak my list of eight improvements in iOS7 here and hope nobody else notices.

YouTube's comments update

Welcome to the detoxification of YouTube! Did it work?

Mittens says 'no'.

Big data

Not the result. Just the term. Although in this article on personalised videos I painted myself into such a corner that I had to refer to it as ‘the sheer volume of data on offer to companies from their vast customer databases’.

There's probably an easier way.

It's probably called 'calling it big data'.

The continuing menace of pre-roll ads

Pre-roll ads are at the top of most of our hate-lists (you have one, admit it), and 2013 saw some particularly grotesque examples of ‘unpoliced’ and inappropriate pre-rolls on social video platforms.

Chris Lake goes into venomous detail in his article is it any wonder why we hate pre-roll video ads. A non-skippable 30 second pre-roll ad on a 90 second long advert? Yes thank you very much, I have no joy in my life and would enjoy shortening it immensely.



Well, at least I didn’t paginate this thing.

That's enough from me. Let’s open up the floor to our loyal followers on Twitter and see what they have to say:

Lots of people also mention their hatred of something called ‘doge’ or ‘doges’. I don’t know what that is, and I'm happy just to leave it that way.

For more horrors of the internet, read our top 16 social media fails of 2013.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 18 December, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (11)

Save or Cancel
Parry Malm

Parry Malm, CEO at Phrasee Ltd.

Oh man, preach on. I'm loving this list.

One thing I don't get, however, is he hate that people have for Gmail tabs. It's an incredible user experience improvement. Email is moving on to a new interaction model. It's not dying, it's just evolving, so email marketers have to evolve with it.

Oh and I'd probably add the Harlem Shake to the list. Because I totally care about how much an inane, trite and aped video shows that a <agency><startup><team> is crazy and kooky.

over 4 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch


It was coming from an email marketing perspective, but you're the expert so I will defer to your better judgement on that.

(FYI, Parry - there's another Simpsons-ism hidden in here somewhere...)

over 4 years ago

Parry Malm

Parry Malm, CEO at Phrasee Ltd.

Oof, it must be pretty well hidden. I'm drawing a blank. Every waking moment of my existence will now be spent cross-checking Simpsons scripts for the reference. Thank you sir.

over 4 years ago


Andy McCullough

Section 1 Header - (not provided).

So, number 16 - failure to check your work on a website :)

over 4 years ago


Matt Isaacs, Senior Ecommerce Manager at Perricone MD

The 3-tab thing is the only decent thing Gmail have done in the last 2 years and I mean this from both sides of the coin.

I think it just needs a bit more time to correctly analyse behavioural changes and looking at open rates over the same time period for gmail is probably no longer valid. And even if they do drop, that's no indicator of whether or not that is a bad thing. The ones who do open may now be more engaged as they are taking the time to read everything.

For me personally, I am now engaged with more newsletters than I ever did before, because instead of angrily deleting everything as soon as it disturbed me by landing in my inbox (yes I know I asked for it), I can now take 5 or 10 minutes to review everything once a week, read the stuff I want then bulk delete everything else.

Its the first time I've opened anything from Ticketmaster in about 6 months!

over 4 years ago



Photo gallery stories are immensely annoying - toooo many clicks for too little in return

over 4 years ago


Martin Broadhurst

I have today, I think the Gmail 3 tab changes were welcome. I say this from a user experience perspective. I open far more email marketing than I ever did. I'd say I now open 20% of the marketing emails I receive.

over 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Marketing Consultant at Atomise Marketing

@Andy McCullough - [Not Provided] refers to the rise of 'not provided' traffic in Google Analytics - see for more details :)

over 4 years ago



No mention of David Cameron's "think of the children" ISP level content filter, and acceptance of censorship by the general public.

Sure Vine selfies are annoying, but Gov. mandanted censorship under the guise of morality rate a little higher in my book.

over 4 years ago



I'd also add Harlem Shake as the weirdest thing ever.

over 4 years ago

Adam Davis

Adam Davis, Customer Strategy Manager at Softonic

"This site uses cookies..."

How much did that nonsense cost.

over 4 years ago

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