Page Pitfalls

I've browsed a lot of Pokémon websites, and one of the things I've noticed is that certain kinds of pages crop up again and again - pages that seem like a good idea in principle but are too often fundamentally flawed in execution. This section goes over some of these kinds of pages, explains the problems with them and attempts to point you in the right direction towards making them more useful.

All examples on this page are based on my overall experience noticing these kinds of sections, not on any one website in particular. Please don't take them the wrong way.

"Draw Your Picture" Tutorials

Tutorials are great. I love tutorials. Unfortunately, though, not all tutorials are very good at actually teaching people something.

How Do You Know Them?

You know you're dealing with a "Draw Your Picture" tutorial when significant parts of what the tutorial is attempting to teach are skipped over in a single step as if they were obvious.

An Extreme Example

(A real tutorial would have screenshots. I've not included any here because they're beside the point.)

Here's an art tutorial!

  1. Make a new image in Photoshop.
  2. Make a new layer and draw the rough sketch of your picture. There is no need to be too detailed here.
  3. Turn the sketch layer's opacity to 50% and make a new layer. With a 3px black Brush tool, make the final lineart on the new layer.
  4. Turn the sketch layer invisible and add a new layer below the lineart layer. With a large, solid brush, fill in the colors. Don't worry if they spill out of the outline; you'll fix it later.
  5. Using a smaller Brush tool with lighter and darker versions of the base color, shade your picture. Go over it a few times to make more layers of shading.
  6. Zoom in. Now use the eraser tool, first with a large brush but then smaller ones, to go around the picture and erase all the coloring that's gone out of the outline.
  7. Ta-da! Your picture is now finished!

Alternatively, for a more humourous, slightly more exaggerated take, see here (warning: profanity).

What's Wrong with That?

What sorts of people do you expect to be reading this tutorial? How much do they know about drawing?

I'm sure this is an accurate description of the process you follow when you draw your amazing artwork in Photoshop. But it communicates nothing of what actually makes your artwork so amazing. The only things the tutorial actually teaches are things like making a rough sketch on a separate layer from the final lineart - valid tips, to be sure, but fairly obvious ones, and not exactly the key to your artistic success.

Meanwhile, the things that actually make the difference between great and poor art - smooth, flowing lineart, solid anatomy, dynamic poses, expressive faces, well-chosen colors, mood-appropriate lighting, realistic shading - are mere throwaway mentions if they're mentioned at all, as if the reader is just supposed to figure them out on their own. And if they can already do all that just as well as you can, don't you think it's pretty likely they already know to make a rough sketch before they make the final lineart, too?

Why Do They Exist?

It's very understandable that a good artist would make a tutorial like this. After all, the better you are at something, the more natural and instinctive it feels, and the harder it is to step back and articulate exactly what it is you're doing. To you, shading may really seem as simple as just "Shade the picture" or "Imagine a light source and then shade where the shadows would fall." But it won't be so simple to everyone else, and unfortunately the people who don't find it that simple are exactly the kinds of people who might look to art tutorials for help.

How to Improve

Narrow down a specific thing that you're really good at. It can be any kind of thing - to continue using drawing as an example, you could do a tutorial on a general aspect of art like shading, on a specific technique or style that you've mastered, or even on a particular object or body part you have a knack for drawing well. Mull over exactly what it is that makes you good at it: what mistakes do you see others making? Why aren't you making those same mistakes? Do you remember not having been good at this thing, and if so, do you remember any insights you've had since that made you better at it? Then focus your tutorial around communicating this information - the stuff that actually makes you really good at this. It will be a lot more useful for it.

Note that so long as you teach the subject matter of the tutorial well, it's okay to skip over anything that's not relevant to that subject (for instance, "Draw your lineart" is fine as a first step in a tutorial that's about coloring). It's only a "Draw Your Picture" tutorial if it's skipping over important parts of what the tutorial is trying to teach.

Lists of HTML Tags

Teaching people HTML is a cool thing to do, in today's age of the web, but sadly, often the HTML guides found on small Pokémon websites are questionably useful at best.

How Do You Know Them?

When something advertised as an HTML guide consists entirely of tags and what they look like on a page.

An Extreme Example

This is my HTML guide. Check back later for more!
HTML

You put your page in between the html tags.
Bold

Becomes: Text here
Italic

Becomes: Text here
Underline

Becomes: Text here
Marquee

Becomes: Text here
Image

Becomes:
Javascript Alert

Brings up an alert with your text.

What's Wrong with That?

Again: who do you think is going to be reading this guide, and how much HTML do they know already?

There is no explanation of what HTML even is. A person who doesn't know HTML who sees this guide will have no idea what it's talking about, while a person who already does probably also already knows the basic tags being taught here. It's hard to imagine exactly what kind of person is going to benefit from a guide like this.

Moreover, less pragmatically, HTML is a semantic markup language - tags don't look like something, they mean something. Showing a tag and what the outcome looks like represents an unfortunate misunderstanding of HTML, because you shouldn't decide what HTML tags to use based on how you want the outcome to look at all - after all, you can easily make any tag look however you want using CSS. Instead of using the i tag because you want some text to be italic, you should consider what tag best captures the reason you want the text to be italic. Is it for emphasis? Then use the em tag. Is it a mathematical variable? Use the var tag. Is it a foreign-language phrase like cogito, ergo sum, or does it represent thoughts or telepathic speech in a work of fiction? Then use the i tag, which in the HTML5 standard indicates text that should be read in an alternate mood or voice, and give it a class attribute indicating what it is specifically. With proper semantic markup, websites make more sense as read by a screen reader, can be parsed more accurately by search engines, and make meaningful styling easier without changing the HTML (for instance, since converting the various italics in my fanfic to be more semantic, I could easily style telepathic speech to look different from emphasized text by changing just CSS if I wanted).

In light of this, it becomes obvious that any good guide to HTML tags should explain what each tag means, not just how it's rendered on the page by default. The b tag means text that should be highlighted without denoting special importance in the sentence, such as a keyword - not just "bold".

Why Do They Exist?

The first problem probably derives from similar reasons as "Draw Your Picture" tutorials: it's hard to properly step back from something you know well and figure out how to explain it to someone who doesn't know it at all.

The second problem, meanwhile, comes simply from the fact that thinking of tags in terms of how they look is a very common misunderstanding of HTML. A lot of people learned HTML from guides or books that teach it that way, and thus they understandably further the misconception when they make their own guides. But additionally it just feels more intuitive to a lot of people. When people format text in a word processor, they're just making sections of text bold or italic - they don't have to specify anywhere why each particular piece of text is bold or italic. And when they go on to learn HTML, they're likely to think in terms of "How do I make this text bold?", not "How do I indicate that this text is strongly emphasized?"

How to Improve

If you want to make an HTML guide, decide first what kinds of people you're targeting. If you're aiming for absolute beginners who have no idea about HTML, be sure to explain what it actually is and how to get started making a website, and make sure you cover not just individual tags but the overall structure of a page. If you want to aim for more advanced users, meanwhile, try to focus on teaching more advanced tricks that people won't necessarily know even if they know basic HTML. And in all cases, study the HTML standard and try to teach what tags mean, not just what they look like.

Militant Anti-Anti-Pokémon

I used to have a long page on this site countering Anti-Pokémon arguments. But that was in 2003, and a lot has changed since then.

How Do You Know Them?

By "militant", I mean Anti-Anti-Pokémon pages that are directly aimed at hypothetical Pokémon haters, countering their accusations, and trying to rally other Pokémon fans against them.

An Extreme Example

The Anti-Anti-Pokémon Alliance!!

I have had it with all the flaming between Pokémon fans and Pokémon haters! They both need to stop, NOW!

Join the club against Anti-Pokémon! To join, you must have a website, you must not flame, and you must help counter Anti-Pokémon arguments!

Here are some counters:

Pokémon is gay!

Don't use the word 'gay' in a derogatory way! If you mean the old meaning of happy, yes, Pokémon are quite happy! ;)

Pokémon like Houndoom are evil because they are based on demons!

No, they're not! In the anime, there was even a Houndoom that saved a Togepi from a tree!! Besides, they're based on the Greek Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, so there's nothing demonic about them.

Pokémon teaches kids to solve all their problems with violence!

No! Pokémon are never supposed to be used to settle personal disputes between trainers! Besides, it's the Pokémon that are fighting, not the trainers.

What's Wrong with That?

Step back and think for a moment: when was the last time you saw an Anti-Pokémon website?

There really used to be a kind of internet war between Pokémon fans and Pokémon haters, where each side ran sites with arguments against the other, founded clubs and sometimes invaded each other's guestbooks with flames. But that was a long time ago. Anti-Pokémon as an internet movement formed when the original Pokémon fad was fading and Pokémon had become uncool, and Anti-Anti-Pokémon was born out of a perceived need to combat that threat. But now, over a decade later, the kids who loved Pokémon in the old days have become young adults, half of whom have rediscovered their love of the games and the other half of whom remember them with nostalgic fondness. Nobody maintains websites dedicated to hating Pokémon anymore - or if they do, they're such a niche group that there is no reason for Pokémon fans to worry about them.

For all intents and purposes, Anti-Pokémon the internet movement no longer exists. And that means Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections that still act like it does today seem like strange relics from a different time.

Why Do They Exist?

In 2003, I found a website named Mewtwofan's Pokémon Page, which had an AAP section. I was horrified to read its accounts of Pokémon haters' claims, read some of the Anti-Pokémon sites discussed there with disgust, and quickly made my own AAP sections. I imagine most AAP pages came about similarly: somebody read about AP and AAP on another site and decided to join in, without doing much in the way of personal research on how common any of what they're talking about actually is today - after all, if it's on that other site now, it has to be going on now, right? Through a chain of sites, the flame of AAP has carried on into a time when it's really not as relevant, unbeknownst to the webmasters propagating it.

How to Improve

Despite the downfall of the Anti-Pokémon internet movement, there are still common misconceptions about Pokémon going on among older people who disapprove of their children or other relatives liking it, and some Pokémon fans still feel insecure and isolated in liking it. Speaking to these fans makes a lot more sense today than targeting the imaginary Anti-Pokémon internet scourge, if you want to have AAP sections on your site.

Generic Game Information

I've never strived to have pages about every Pokémon game on this site, but a lot of Pokémon sites do. And that's fine, but too often, these obligatory game pages aren't much better than no page at all.

How Do You Know Them?

We've all seen them: a short piece of text explaining a game's features the way the game box might.

An Extreme Example

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are the latest installments to the Pokémon series and the first games for the Nintendo DS system. They feature a new evil team, Team Galactic, trying to capture the legendary Pokémon Dialga or Palkia, depending on your version. As the games are for the DS system, they are also the first Pokémon games to feature online capabilities through Nintendo Wi-Fi, allowing players to trade or battle with friends all over the world. Unlike the 2D look of the previous games, Diamond and Pearl will feature a 3D overworld, but battles are still 2D. There are 107 new Pokémon in the games, bringing the total up to 493. The starters are the fire monkey Chimchar, the water penguin Piplup and the grass turtle Turtwig. The day and night system also makes a welcome return from Gold, Silver and Crystal.

The game starts as you receive a news report about a red Gyarados at the Lake of Rage. Then you must head out with your rival to meet Professor Rowan and his assistant and obtain a Pokémon of your very own, after which your journey will begin! Travel around the Sinnoh region to collect Pokémon League Badges by fighting Gym leaders, and then face the Elite Four to become a Pokémon Champion!

What's Wrong with That?

This honestly sounds like an advertisement for the game more than actually useful information. Why should people want to read this page? If they're deciding whether to buy this game? Well, then they'd probably prefer a proper review that goes better into its strong and weak points - otherwise they could just look at the product description at an online retailer or an official website, which is a considerably more obvious and accessible place to look for this sort of thing than a random Pokémon fansite. Meanwhile, the information is all vague, obvious stuff that a Pokémon fan who has played the game will have gathered in the first couple of hours of gameplay, so it's unlikely to benefit them at all either.

Why Do They Exist?

Often these pages are really leftovers from release coverage, where the point of the page would originally be to summarize what's known about an upcoming game so far. This also contributes to the tendency of these sections to talk as if the game is new and mysterious, even long after the release date.

Other times, however, they mostly seem to stem from the webmaster's desire to have a page about every Pokémon game (or every main series Pokémon game), even when they don't have much of anything to say about the game. And I get that desire for completeness - I really do. But ultimately, your site does not really gain anything with a page like this.

How to Improve

I'd honestly suggest you just leave out these pages if you really aren't interested in making a real page about some game. Having a link on your menu that leads to a page with nothing of worth on it just wastes your visitors' time, and the completionist satisfaction of having every game on your menu is probably not worth that.

But if you really want to have general game pages, try to offer something slightly more insightful than your average advertisement - depending on the character of your site, this could be your personal take on the games (but be careful not to fall into My Opinions, Let Me Show You Them), an overview of the fandom's reaction to the games at the time or how their features have fared in later generations, information about mainstream media coverage and hype for them, an actually comprehensive (or striving to be comprehensive) list of new features, or anything else you can think of relevant to the games in a general way.

Additionally, if you maintain pages like this for unreleased games, be sure to update them to remove any promises of "more info soon" or "little is known about this feature so far" once the game has been released, to avoid that awkward datedness that so frequently ends up plaguing these pages.

Confusing Game Mechanics

I love discovering more about the internal mechanics of the Pokémon games, and I still remember the feeling of awed fascination I felt the first time I read about the formulas behind how they work - a fascination I've tried to pass on to others in my game mechanics pages. But explaining complex game mechanics is a delicate affair, and it's easy to get wrong.

How Do You Know Them?

When a game mechanics page leaves out crucial information, introduces it only after it has already been invisibly assumed by the writer, or generally says things in such a way that a newbie to the concept would inevitably be lost.

An Extreme Example

IVs are values that determine your Pokémon's stats. If the IV is ten points higher, it means the stat will also be ten points higher. The IV in each stat also determines the type and power of Hidden Power.

EVs are special values that can increase your Pokémon's stats by 63 points! Unlike IVs, EVs start at zero and then you can raise them by battling certain kinds of Pokémon. For instance, Tentacool gives one Special Defense EV and Grovyle gives two Speed EVs. Effort is not split, even when the level experience is split. For every four EVs, one is added to your final stat. You can have at most 252 EVs in each stat and 510 overall. You can also feed your Pokémon special berries to lower their EVs to change their stats if you want to.

What's Wrong with That?

While the statements in this example are roughly true and someone who already knows IVs and EVs will be able to nod along with it, someone who doesn't is likely to be thoroughly confused. It doesn't explain the range of possible IVs; it fails to indicate that the stat boosts it lists are for level 100 stats unaffected by natures; it doesn't make clear that there is an independent IV and EV for each stat including HP; it doesn't explain how base stats come into it; it only very vaguely implies that IVs are set when you encounter the Pokémon and can't be changed; it doesn't explain at all what it means by "effort is not split"; it doesn't go at all into the important implications of the 510 overall cap on effort points; and the final sentence about berries is too vague to be useful. A clueless reader could gather from this that IVs and EVs affect stats somehow, and that you can raise your stats by battling certain Pokémon, but not much more than that.

Why Do They Exist?

As with "Draw Your Picture" tutorials, explaining things that you know inside and out to someone who knows nothing about them is always harder than it seems. It's easy to forget to explain all of your premises when it doesn't even occur to you that you're assuming them, and the path of inference may be longer than you think.

How to Improve

When writing about game mechanics or other somewhat technical subjects, try to think carefully about what a person who doesn't know any of this already will be thinking throughout. Mentally ask yourself for every sentence, "What does a person need to know to understand this? Have I established all those things?" In practice, it's often easiest to get a third party who really is unfamiliar with the concepts to read over it and tell you if something confuses them, but any second opinion will help.

Torturing the Visitor

A lot of less serious Pokémon websites contain at least some pages that are merely meant as silly fun. Silly fun can be amusing, charming and entertaining, but sometimes it loses track of the "fun" part and becomes merely tiresome.

How Do You Know Them?

This is a pretty broad issue, but here I'm particularly going to be talking about pages where, through one means or another, a page intended to be fun or amusing forces the visitor to suffer through endless meaningless lists or repetition, resulting in it being just plain boring.

An Extreme Example

The example shows the "tedious marquee" flavor of this. I would show the "hundreds of alerts" flavor, but those are hard to demonstrate in a box without forcing visitors to this page to actually suffer through them.

Hi! This is my marquee, which is really long! There's a prize at the end, by the way. Okay, I'm bored. Let's recite the alphabet: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z. That was fun. Hey, maybe we could list all the Pokémon in National Pokédex order! Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venusaur, Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise, Caterpie, Metapod, Butterfree, Weedle, Kakuna, Beedrill, Pidgey, Pidgeotto, Pidgeot, Rattata, Raticate, Spearow, Fearow, Ekans, Arbok, Pikachu, Raichu, Sandshrew, Sandslash, Nidoran (f), Nidorina, Nidoqueen, Nidoran (m), Nidorino, Nidoking, Clefairy, Clefable, Vulpix, Ninetales, Jigglypuff, Wigglytuff, Zubat, Golbat, Oddish, Gloom, Vileplume, Paras, Parasect, Venonat, Venomoth, Diglett, Dugtrio, Meowth, Persian, Psyduck, Golduck, Mankey, Primeape, Growlithe, Arcanine, Poliwag, Poliwhirl, Poliwrath, Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, Machop, Machoke, Machamp, Bellsprout, Weepinbell, Victreebel, Tentacool, Tentacruel, Geodude, Graveler, Golem, Ponyta, Rapidash, Slowpoke, Slowbro, Magnemite, Magneton, Farfetch'd, Doduo, Dodrio, Seel, Dewgong, Grimer, Muk, Shellder, Cloyster, Gastly, Haunter, Gengar, Onix, Drowzee, Hypno, Krabby, Kingler, Voltorb, Electrode, Exeggcute, Exeggutor, Cubone, Marowak, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Lickitung, Koffing, Weezing, Rhyhorn, Rhydon, Chansey, Tangela, Kangaskhan, Horsea, Seadra, Goldeen, Seaking, Staryu, Starmie, Mr. Mime, Scyther, Jynx, Electabuzz, Magmar, Pinsir, Tauros, Magikarp, Gyarados, Lapras, Ditto, Eevee, Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Porygon, Omanyte, Omastar, Kabuto, Kabutops, Aerodactyl, Snorlax, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite, Mewtwo, Mew, Chikorita, Bayleef, Meganium, Cyndaquil, Quilava, Typhlosion, Totodile, Croconaw, Feraligatr, Sentret, Furret, Hoothoot, Noctowl, Ledyba, Ledian, Spinarak, Ariados, Crobat, Chinchou, Lanturn, Pichu, Cleffa, Igglybuff, Togepi, Togetic, Natu, Xatu, Mareep, Flaaffy, Ampharos, Bellossom, Marill, Azumarill, Sudowoodo, Politoed, Hoppip, Skiploom, Jumpluff, Aipom, Sunkern, Sunflora, Yanma, Wooper, Quagsire, Espeon, Umbreon, Murkrow, Slowking, Misdreavus, Unown, Wobbuffet, Girafarig, Pineco, Forretress, Dunsparce, Gligar, Steelix, Snubbull, Granbull, Qwilfish, Scizor, Shuckle, Heracross, Sneasel, Teddiursa, Ursaring, Slugma, Magcargo, Swinub, Piloswine, Corsola, Remoraid, Octillery, Delibird, Mantine, Skarmory, Houndour, Houndoom, Kingdra, Phanpy, Donphan, Porygon2, Stantler, Smeargle, Tyrogue, Hitmontop, Smoochum, Elekid, Magby, Miltank, Blissey, Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Larvitar, Pupitar, Tyranitar, Lugia, Ho-oh, Celebi, Treecko, Grovyle, Sceptile, Torchic, Combusken, Blaziken, Mudkip, Marshtomp, Swampert, Poochyena, Mightyena, Zigzagoon, Linoone, Wurmple, Silcoon, Beautifly, Cascoon, Dustox, Lotad, Lombre, Ludicolo, Seedot, Nuzleaf, Shiftry, Taillow, Swellow, Wingull, Pelipper, Ralts, Kirlia, Gardevoir, Surskit, Masquerain, Shroomish, Breloom, Slakoth, Vigoroth, Slaking, Nincada, Ninjask, Shedinja, Whismur, Loudred, Exploud, Makuhita, Hariyama, Azurill, Nosepass, Skitty, Delcatty, Sableye, Mawile, Aron, Lairon, Aggron, Meditite, Medicham, Electrike, Manectric, Plusle, Minun, Volbeat, Illumise, Roselia, Gulpin, Swalot, Carvanha, Sharpedo, Wailmer, Wailord, Numel, Camerupt, Torkoal, Spoink, Grumpig, Spinda, Trapinch, Vibrava, Flygon, Cacnea, Cacturne, Swablu, Altaria, Zangoose, Seviper, Lunatone, Solrock, Barboach, Whiscash, Corphish, Crawdaunt, Baltoy, Claydol, Lileep, Cradily, Anorith, Armaldo, Feebas, Milotic, Castform, Kecleon, Shuppet, Banette, Duskull, Dusclops, Tropius, Chimecho, Absol, Wynaut, Snorunt, Glalie, Spheal, Sealeo, Walrein, Clamperl, Huntail, Gorebyss, Relicanth, Luvdisc, Bagon, Shelgon, Salamence, Beldum, Metang, Metagross, Regirock, Regice, Registeel, Latias, Latios, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Jirachi, Deoxys, Turtwig, Grotle, Torterra, Chimchar, Monferno, Infernape, Piplup, Prinplup, Empoleon, Starly, Staravia, Staraptor, Bidoof, Bibarel, Kricketot, Kricketune, Shinx, Luxio, Luxray, Budew, Roserade, Cranidos, Rampardos, Shieldon, Bastiodon, Burmy, Wormadam, Mothim, Combee, Vespiquen, Pachirisu, Buizel, Floatzel, Cherubi, Cherrim, Shellos, Gastrodon, Ambipom, Drifloon, Drifblim, Buneary, Lopunny, Mismagius, Honchkrow, Glameow, Purugly, Chingling, Stunky, Skuntank, Bronzor, Bronzong, Bonsly, Mime Jr., Happiny, Chatot, Spiritomb, Gible, Gabite, Garchomp, Munchlax, Riolu, Lucario, Hippopotas, Hippowdon, Skorupi, Drapion, Croagunk, Toxicroak, Carnivine, Finneon, Lumineon, Mantyke, Snover, Abomasnow, Weavile, Magnezone, Lickilicky, Rhyperior, Tangrowth, Electivire, Magmortar, Togekiss, Yanmega, Leafeon, Glaceon, Gliscor, Mamoswine, Porygon-Z, Gallade, Probopass, Dusknoir, Froslass, Rotom, Uxie, Mesprit, Azelf, Dialga, Palkia, Heatran, Regigigas, Giratina, Cresselia, Phione, Manaphy, Darkrai, Shaymin, Arceus. Whoo! Awesome! Let's do that again! Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venusaur, Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise, Caterpie, Metapod, Butterfree, Weedle, Kakuna, Beedrill, Pidgey, Pidgeotto, Pidgeot, Rattata, Raticate, Spearow, Fearow, Ekans, Arbok, Pikachu, Raichu, Sandshrew, Sandslash, Nidoran (f), Nidorina, Nidoqueen, Nidoran (m), Nidorino, Nidoking, Clefairy, Clefable, Vulpix, Ninetales, Jigglypuff, Wigglytuff, Zubat, Golbat, Oddish, Gloom, Vileplume, Paras, Parasect, Venonat, Venomoth, Diglett, Dugtrio, Meowth, Persian, Psyduck, Golduck, Mankey, Primeape, Growlithe, Arcanine, Poliwag, Poliwhirl, Poliwrath, Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, Machop, Machoke, Machamp, Bellsprout, Weepinbell, Victreebel, Tentacool, Tentacruel, Geodude, Graveler, Golem, Ponyta, Rapidash, Slowpoke, Slowbro, Magnemite, Magneton, Farfetch'd, Doduo, Dodrio, Seel, Dewgong, Grimer, Muk, Shellder, Cloyster, Gastly, Haunter, Gengar, Onix, Drowzee, Hypno, Krabby, Kingler, Voltorb, Electrode, Exeggcute, Exeggutor, Cubone, Marowak, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Lickitung, Koffing, Weezing, Rhyhorn, Rhydon, Chansey, Tangela, Kangaskhan, Horsea, Seadra, Goldeen, Seaking, Staryu, Starmie, Mr. Mime, Scyther, Jynx, Electabuzz, Magmar, Pinsir, Tauros, Magikarp, Gyarados, Lapras, Ditto, Eevee, Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Porygon, Omanyte, Omastar, Kabuto, Kabutops, Aerodactyl, Snorlax, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite, Mewtwo, Mew, Chikorita, Bayleef, Meganium, Cyndaquil, Quilava, Typhlosion, Totodile, Croconaw, Feraligatr, Sentret, Furret, Hoothoot, Noctowl, Ledyba, Ledian, Spinarak, Ariados, Crobat, Chinchou, Lanturn, Pichu, Cleffa, Igglybuff, Togepi, Togetic, Natu, Xatu, Mareep, Flaaffy, Ampharos, Bellossom, Marill, Azumarill, Sudowoodo, Politoed, Hoppip, Skiploom, Jumpluff, Aipom, Sunkern, Sunflora, Yanma, Wooper, Quagsire, Espeon, Umbreon, Murkrow, Slowking, Misdreavus, Unown, Wobbuffet, Girafarig, Pineco, Forretress, Dunsparce, Gligar, Steelix, Snubbull, Granbull, Qwilfish, Scizor, Shuckle, Heracross, Sneasel, Teddiursa, Ursaring, Slugma, Magcargo, Swinub, Piloswine, Corsola, Remoraid, Octillery, Delibird, Mantine, Skarmory, Houndour, Houndoom, Kingdra, Phanpy, Donphan, Porygon2, Stantler, Smeargle, Tyrogue, Hitmontop, Smoochum, Elekid, Magby, Miltank, Blissey, Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Larvitar, Pupitar, Tyranitar, Lugia, Ho-oh, Celebi, Treecko, Grovyle, Sceptile, Torchic, Combusken, Blaziken, Mudkip, Marshtomp, Swampert, Poochyena, Mightyena, Zigzagoon, Linoone, Wurmple, Silcoon, Beautifly, Cascoon, Dustox, Lotad, Lombre, Ludicolo, Seedot, Nuzleaf, Shiftry, Taillow, Swellow, Wingull, Pelipper, Ralts, Kirlia, Gardevoir, Surskit, Masquerain, Shroomish, Breloom, Slakoth, Vigoroth, Slaking, Nincada, Ninjask, Shedinja, Whismur, Loudred, Exploud, Makuhita, Hariyama, Azurill, Nosepass, Skitty, Delcatty, Sableye, Mawile, Aron, Lairon, Aggron, Meditite, Medicham, Electrike, Manectric, Plusle, Minun, Volbeat, Illumise, Roselia, Gulpin, Swalot, Carvanha, Sharpedo, Wailmer, Wailord, Numel, Camerupt, Torkoal, Spoink, Grumpig, Spinda, Trapinch, Vibrava, Flygon, Cacnea, Cacturne, Swablu, Altaria, Zangoose, Seviper, Lunatone, Solrock, Barboach, Whiscash, Corphish, Crawdaunt, Baltoy, Claydol, Lileep, Cradily, Anorith, Armaldo, Feebas, Milotic, Castform, Kecleon, Shuppet, Banette, Duskull, Dusclops, Tropius, Chimecho, Absol, Wynaut, Snorunt, Glalie, Spheal, Sealeo, Walrein, Clamperl, Huntail, Gorebyss, Relicanth, Luvdisc, Bagon, Shelgon, Salamence, Beldum, Metang, Metagross, Regirock, Regice, Registeel, Latias, Latios, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Jirachi, Deoxys, Turtwig, Grotle, Torterra, Chimchar, Monferno, Infernape, Piplup, Prinplup, Empoleon, Starly, Staravia, Staraptor, Bidoof, Bibarel, Kricketot, Kricketune, Shinx, Luxio, Luxray, Budew, Roserade, Cranidos, Rampardos, Shieldon, Bastiodon, Burmy, Wormadam, Mothim, Combee, Vespiquen, Pachirisu, Buizel, Floatzel, Cherubi, Cherrim, Shellos, Gastrodon, Ambipom, Drifloon, Drifblim, Buneary, Lopunny, Mismagius, Honchkrow, Glameow, Purugly, Chingling, Stunky, Skuntank, Bronzor, Bronzong, Bonsly, Mime Jr., Happiny, Chatot, Spiritomb, Gible, Gabite, Garchomp, Munchlax, Riolu, Lucario, Hippopotas, Hippowdon, Skorupi, Drapion, Croagunk, Toxicroak, Carnivine, Finneon, Lumineon, Mantyke, Snover, Abomasnow, Weavile, Magnezone, Lickilicky, Rhyperior, Tangrowth, Electivire, Magmortar, Togekiss, Yanmega, Leafeon, Glaceon, Gliscor, Mamoswine, Porygon-Z, Gallade, Probopass, Dusknoir, Froslass, Rotom, Uxie, Mesprit, Azelf, Dialga, Palkia, Heatran, Regigigas, Giratina, Cresselia, Phione, Manaphy, Darkrai, Shaymin, Arceus. Phew. Oh, you wanted a prize? Well, there is no prize! Haha, gotcha!

What's Wrong with That?

These kinds of pages are generally similar in concept to my Marquee of Doom (originally "Do Not Click Here"): either the visitor is perceived to have committed some kind of transgression and is supposedly being punished for it, or the act of staying on the page and suffering through its contents is presented as a feat of endurance the visitor will be rewarded for. Both entail the content being supposedly excruciating to sit through.

But that doesn't mean they should be genuinely excruciating. They should be 'fun-boring': weird inane stuff you'd probably never choose to read normally, but that will nonetheless keep you occupied. At the end you should be shaking your head with a smile, thinking back on how ridiculous it was, not sincerely annoyed. Sincerely annoying people is never the reaction you want from your website.

Why Do They Exist?

It's pretty natural for someone who sees something like this on a site to think, "I bet I could make a way more boring one." The subtle thing is just that although these kinds of pages will talk about how horrifically boring they are, the good ones are actually trying to carefully stay within the line of not too boring.

How to Improve

For those fun-boring attractions, always avoid lengthy meaningless lists and repetitions - those are things that immediately short-circuit the visitor's attention and make it unbearable. Don't make it progress so slowly that it's impossible to read it at a continuous rate. Try to be saying something that means something, even if that meaning is pretty silly and inane, at least the vast majority of the time.

In general, treat your visitors well - they're your audience, and if they feel mistreated, they'll like your site less. Don't trick them, insult them or annoy them unless it's carefully calibrated to be obviously in good fun.

Not-So-FAQs

Sections with frequently asked questions are a nice way to avoid being hit with the same questions more often after you've gotten them a few times. I'm obviously all for that in principle, as seen by the sheer length of my own FAQ - writing detailed answers to all those tiring questions you keep getting and knowing from now on you can just link to it instead of typing it up all over again is really quite fun. Unfortunately, however, sometimes people get carried away with the fun and forget that they should be frequently asked questions.

How Do You Know Them?

These are FAQ sections where some of the questions are simply made up by the webmaster or borrowed from other websites' FAQs, presented as if they were legitimate questions - especially if the questions are obviously idiotic and the answers coolly sarcastic.

An Extreme Example

A hypothetical Not-So-FAQ that partly borrows questions from mine:

I'M G01NG T0 H4XX0R j00R SITE!!!!

Wow, hacking some random Pokémon site. That's real mature of you. -_-; Get a life! And learn to talk properly.

I hate you! Your site sucks and so does Pokémon!

And you spend your time telling me that? Lame.

Hey, did you know there is this new game called Platinum coming out?

*sigh* This is not a news site. You can find out stuff about Platinum on Serebii.net or something, but this site won't have anything about Platinum unless I actually have something to say about Platinum.

Hey, you should make a Digimon section!

Yeah, I'll go make a Digimon section. Except... I don't watch Digimon. How am I supposed to make a section about something I don't know anything about?

Can I be your friend?

I can't just say yes to this and we'll suddenly be friends. You need to get to know me before we can be proper friends.

What's Wrong with That?

The trouble is it tends to be fairly easy to tell when this is going on, and it just creates an awkward impression in the visitor's mind that you're trying to either make your site look more popular than it is or make yourself look cool by arguing with imaginary strawmen.

Why Do They Exist?

I don't think most people make Not-So-FAQs because they're actually trying to make their sites look more popular than they are. I believe it's more that answering questions is entertaining to do, and that if you haven't gotten a lot of questions about your website it's awfully tempting to fill out the FAQ section you want to make with questions you haven't actually gotten yet but imagine you might maybe get sometime. It's a very understandable impulse, but ultimately it just makes your site look bad.

How to Improve

It's best to stick with questions that really are frequently asked in some reasonable sense and answer them in an honest and level-headed way. While thinking up witty retorts to silly questions is entertaining, a FAQ should be there to provide real answers to people who are really wondering about these commonly asked things, and an overly sarcastic tone is hostile and offputting. Humourous FAQs with made-up questions in them can work, but then the made-up questions generally have to be obvious jokes, and the answers should not be written like witty comebacks - making witty comebacks against yourself just looks silly.

My Opinions, Let Me Show You Them

Everybody loves to put their opinions on things out there on the Internet in the form of reviews or rants. And that's fine - those can be some of the best content on many websites, because opinions tend to have at least some degree of freshness and they can be interesting, useful or entertaining to visitors. However, sometimes they just fail to achieve the interesting, useful or entertaining part and instead amount simply to declaring what the author thinks.

How Do You Know Them?

When a review or other opinion-based section talks almost exclusively about what the author's opinion is rather than why they hold that opinion.

An Extreme Example

My review of Black and White:

Story: The story's pretty good. I liked N but Team Plasma was kind of lame. However, all the Gym leaders coming together to help you at the end was cool, and the way you fight N and Ghetsis instead of the Champion at the end was an awesome twist. 8/10

Gameplay: The gameplay hasn't changed much. It's pretty much the same as every other Pokémon game. 7/10

Pokémon: Okay, let's face it, the new Pokémon SUCK. I mean, a garbage bag and ice cream Pokémon? Come on! This is clearly the worst generation so far, and you can't even catch any of the old ones until you've beaten the game. 3/10

Graphics: The graphics look awesome. The Pokémon are FINALLY animated in battle. It was about time. But some of the animations look really stupid, though. 9/10

Overall: I like Black and White even though the Pokémon are terrible. At least it's better than Diamond and Pearl. 8/10

What's Wrong with That?

This sort of thing makes a perfectly fine post on a personal blog, but it says a lot more about you than it does about Black and White; for someone who isn't there to read about you, such as most visitors to your Pokémon website, it just doesn't really mean anything. There are millions of people expressing opinions on the Internet, and hundreds of them are probably expressing the exact opposite opinion to yours, so why should someone automatically put any stock in your particular opinion unless you back it up with some sort of persuasive reasoning?

Why Do They Exist?

Everyone loves to put their opinions out there on the Internet, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a lot harder to argue your opinion in a way that makes it interesting or useful to strangers, though, and the distinction between the sorts of things you might post on a forum or blog and the sorts of things that make good content on a website can be subtle.

How to Improve

There are basically three types of useful reviews, each exemplifying one of the kinds of content. First, there are informative reviews (useful content), reviews written mostly to assist others in deciding whether something is worth their time or money. These reviews will try to be relatively objective, as the author wishes to help readers gauge whether they're likely to enjoy it; personal pet peeves, the clearly subjective and overtly opinionated statements are avoided. Second, there are persuasive reviews (interesting content), reviews written to encourage the reader to see the author's point of view, generally assuming they're already familiar with the subject of the review. These will go in-depth to explain and argue why the author's opinion is what it is, in the hope of giving the reader a new perspective on things, raising points they hadn't considered, or just plain convincing them the author is right. Third, there are entertaining reviews (entertaining content), humourous reviews that use the author's opinion on the subject more as a springboard into original entertainment than trying to give objective information or make a case.

All these types of reviews make great content, and a single review can combine two of these types or even all three. Decide exactly what the objective of your review is right off the bat - should it be informative, persuasive or just entertaining? - and then write it with that in mind.

This general principle applies to any kind of opinionated content, not just reviews; reviews are simply the most common and varied example. Either try to stick to objective facts or make a case for your opinion in such a way that somebody who disagrees might still think you've made some good points - unless you're just shooting for humour, in which case more or less anything goes so long as it's funny.

If you really just want to say what you think about something, though, you can always put it on a personal blog or on a section on your website that's clearly not meant to be anything but your personal expression, without worrying about it being useful to total strangers.


More coming whenever inspiration hits me.

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT