Sections that Suck

With the Internet's vast flora of Pokémon websites, organized into their own little cliques and cross-imitating one another left and right, it is no surprise that some standard sections, found with variations in writing on a significant number of similar websites, have cropped up over the years. This wouldn't necessarily be so bad - rather bland and not helping the originality of those sites, yes, but not precisely harmful - if those were reasonably good, useful sections, but regrettably, they aren't always, and the result is hundreds of budding Pokémon websites bogged down by the same useless sections, or perfectly good sections done in a useless way, that are only there because the creator has seen them on so many other sites.

All examples on this page are made-up and not specifically based on any real-world example in particular. Please do not take offense.

"Draw Your Picture" Tutorials

Ah, art tutorials. They're everywhere, and they can be quite helpful. Unfortunately, however, all too many of them are really not helpful in the least - usually because they fall under this category of Sections that Suck.

How Do You Know Them?

You know you're dealing with a "Draw Your Picture" tutorial when it's a general art tutorial and any step of it says, "Now draw your lineart," or "Draw the face," or "Add in the shading," or "Make a rough sketch on the bottom layer." More accurately, the tutorial skips over significant portions of what it's supposed to be teaching as if they were somehow obvious.

An Extreme Example

There would be screenshots in a real example, but I'm too lazy to make some. Just imagine they're there. We've all seen them a hundred times.

Here's a drawing tutorial for Photoshop!

  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).

Why They Suck

The short version: Why, thank you, Captain Obvious!

Yes, that is the process you follow when you draw your amazing pictures in Photoshop. But that's really not what anybody wants to know about. The most anybody could get out of a tutorial like that is vague, extremely basic tips for using Photoshop to draw: in this example, all it really tells anybody is, "Photoshop has layers. Use them." And then possibly, "You should draw a rough sketch before you make the final lineart." All the rest is utterly self-evident - and while it could be argued that a tutorial like this, at least if it goes into somewhat more detail than the example, can teach you something about using Photoshop in the unlikely case you didn't know it already, it won't teach you a thing about drawing. Your rough sketches don't become any better if you draw them on new layers, and your lineart doesn't stop being shaky because you used a 3px brush.

Of course, sometimes you really are making a Photoshop tutorial, and I won't hold that against you - but most such tutorials say very little about Photoshop that your average viewer hasn't already figured out by messing around with layers or could figure out if he tried. There are great drawing method tutorials out there that point out honestly interesting ways to use art programs, but they are few and far between. All too often, the only thing about a tutorial that is somewhat worthwhile is watching a good piece of art turn from rough sketch to finished work.

Why They Exist

It's very understandable, really. The better you are at something, the harder it is to realize precisely how you're doing it. You operate on an instinct, and it's difficult to explain to others exactly what it is that this instinct tells you. To you, shading might really be as simple as just "Shade the picture," or in a slightly less extreme example, "Imagine a light source and shade where there would be shadows." But it will not be so simple to everybody else, and unfortunately, those who don't find it that simple are exactly the people who might actually have use for a tutorial.

How to Avoid

The best tutorials I've seen tackled a limited subject and knew precisely what they were about. For instance, I've had some good experiences with tutorials that were specifically about wings - just to point out what there really is to a wing anatomically, how to draw that and how people commonly draw it incorrectly. I've seen tutorials all about hair bangs or specific Photoshop effects that really worked and pointed out something that I've been able to keep in mind ever since. How about narrowing your focus to some one particular thing you're good at after spending some time figuring out precisely what it is that you know that makes you good at it?

"Basic HTML" Guides

What better in a budding webmaster section than teaching HTML to your visitors who don't know how to make a website? Except... they have to try to do it with this.

How Do You Know Them?

Whenever you have something advertised as an HTML guide that consists entirely of tags and what they look like on a page.

An Extreme Example

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.

Why They Suck

The Short Version: Oh, God, what is not wrong with these sections? And yet they are everywhere.

First of all, these sections invariably seem to be mostly composed of deprecated or proprietary tags used in an invalid way. We have web standards for a reason, and every site I see encouraging others to use invalid HTML makes me die a little bit inside. Let not the blind lead the blind! And, even worse, they are always completely without context to explain how the tag is used as opposed to what it looks like.

Secondly, they are completely without a target audience. They never seem to even bother to explain what the hell HTML is (or at most they explain it as "the language in which web pages are made", which tells people nothing), thereby ensuring that any HTML-unaware visitor who happens to come across the section won't have the faintest idea what it's about. But then they go on to teach only the very basic tags, the ones that somebody who is already familiar with HTML will already know, and don't provide any sort of context for them that could point out uses they weren't already familiar with. (Okay, the very basic tags and that damned Microsoft-proprietary marquee tag, which the Internet would be far better off without in any case.)

Thirdly, they never seem to teach anything useful. It's always just this random assortment of contextless tags that nobody could build a decent webpage with - basic text formatting and then random gimmicks, with the <html> tag perhaps thrown in for good measure. Anybody looking to make a website, even if they magically already knew how HTML works but not these tags, would be forced to look for reference on other tags somewhere else anyway - and then what's the point?

Why They Exist

Some kid made one, possibly in a poor attempt to imitate Lissa Explains It All or something like that, and the next kid came along and saw it, thinking, "Oh! It's teaching a bunch of the stuff I've learned! I need to teach people that too!" and so on until today, when they are everywhere despite never having helped anybody in all the years they've been spreading around the Internet like a website virus.

How to Avoid

If you absolutely must have an HTML guide on your site, have the decency to do it properly. Try to teach at least somewhat valid HTML, give proper context for the tags you mention, and give some proper introduction to HTML if you intend it to be for absolute beginners. (Otherwise, teach something that your target audience does not already know.)

Most AAP Sections

Yes, I went there.

How Do You Know Them?

All Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections created after 2004 or so that are written to be seriously directed at Pokémon haters, especially if they are militant, trying to counter arguments from Anti-Pokémon sites and combat flaming, or want you to join some sort of a club.

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.

Why They Suck

The short version: Well. Look at it this way... When was the last time you saw an Anti-Pokémon website?

Back in the day, there really were Anti-Pokémon sites. Pokémon haters and Pokémon fans actually sometimes encountered one another. Sites were hacked. Guestbooks were flamed.

Anti-Anti-Pokémon was born out of a perceived need to combat the Anti-Pokémon movement. I can't say precisely how necessary it was, since I wasn't around for the beginning, but at least it came to exist, and I was swept into it in 2003 as I discovered not everybody liked my favorite games. However, it's been more than seven years, and I haven't seen a serious Pokémon hater who still cared since almost that long ago - and really, Anti-Pokémon was in its dying throes even when I got into it. My Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections remain, but with a different flavor: they're reassurance for disheartened Pokémon fans who due to more real-life social pressures feel like they "shouldn't" like it. The Stop the Flaming club I founded is... obsolete. And yet, Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections that act like it's still 2003 keep cropping up on new Pokémon websites, trying to combat a movement that died years ago and that I often suspect the webmasters can't really ever have gotten into contact with at all, except maybe in the form of finding a link to an Anti-Pokémon website that hadn't been updated for years when they got there. They're like strange ghosts of the past that still haunt even recent Pokémon websites, often reviving memories and attitudes that are really best forgotten.

Let me emphasize that I am talking about a specific type of AAP section here: the type that is directed at the now-nonexistent "Anti-Pokémon" Internet movement. Sections in a nonmilitant tone simply discussing common misconceptions about Pokémon or otherwise defending it from accusations that are still relevant are fine.

Why They Exist

People see Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections on other Pokémon websites, read the horror stories contained within and think, "Gasp! People hate Pokémon! Of course I must help fight this invading force!" They don't exactly want to look extensively for Anti-Pokémon websites, so they don't, and thus never realize just how dead Anti-Pokémon is as they write their attempts to counter all the arguments they read about on other Anti-Anti-Pokémon sections.

How to Avoid

Just... treat the concept of Anti-Anti-Pokémon as a movement, when you see it on sites like mine, as the relic of the past that it is instead of trying to jump on the decade-old bandwagon. If you want to write something about public misconceptions about Pokémon that are actually still relevant today, again, be my guest, but please don't get all militant and don't pretend that your section is about to be read by somebody who spends their day posting "POKEMON SUX!!!" in Pokémon website guestbooks.

Generic Game Information

I've ranted about these before. It seems like every Pokémon site with any game information to begin with feels the need to make pages like these for every game that they have nothing to say about, and it drives me nuts.

How Do You Know Them?

The page that usually appears when you click a link that just says the name of a game or generation of games on a website's menu - a short piece of text, mostly listing features in the games, all of it information that just about every Pokémon fan in the world already knows, while on a website where no non-Pokémon fan in their right mind would think to go if they were looking for it.

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!

Why They Suck

The short version: Nobody who reads this page will ever find out anything new from it.

Honestly. These are all features we learned about from Serebii.net in the weeks and months leading up to the Japanese release. None of it is going to surprise an internet-going Pokémon fan. And if you are not an internet-going Pokémon fan, why would you look for this information on random, small fansites, as opposed to looking up the game on Wikipedia or Bulbapedia or reading the section about it on a site like Serebii.net?

But there are so many other things that are almost always wrong with these pages, even then. There's the wording that so often sounds like a demonic hybrid of an advertisement, the game box and an Amazon feature list. There's how short they are, never really listing all the noteworthy features in the first place. There's these sections' uncanny tendency to end up grossly outdated. There's the usually complete lack of having anything interesting to say about any of these features. A section like this is useless information, people - if you have a portal page to link to all the sections on your site dealing with the games in question, this can serve as padding to refresh an inactive fan's memory on precisely which games these were again, but if you have no sections about a game, why write up some dead little blurb like this just to stick something under that name on the site?

Why They Exist

It seems like Pokémon webmasters feel like they can't have a section about one game but not all of them, so in their eagerness to create a section about some particular game they have not necessarily even played, they forget to make the section something worthwhile.

How to Avoid

Only write sections if you have something noteworthy to say about the subject of the section. If you feel like you absolutely must have the names of all the games on your menu but have absolutely nothing interesting to say about some of them, make the ones you don't have anything about text but not links - or if that would absolutely kill you, just think of something. Or, alternatively, just put all the subpages about the games you do have something about directly on the menu, making them more accessible to users and making it less glaringly noticeable that you don't have something about every game. Win-win!

Poorly Explained Game Mechanics

I love discovering more about the internal mechanics of the Pokémon games, but game mechanics sections on smaller Pokémon websites awfully often tend to be mostly limited to generic explanations of EVs, IVs and natures - and to make it even worse, those sections are very varying in quality, and many of them are so confusingly written that I know I would have no idea what they were talking about if I were not already familiar with what they are trying to explain.

How Do You Know Them?

When a game mechanics page leaves out crucial information or introduces it only after it has already been invisibly assumed by the writer, or generally words things in such a way that a newbie to the concept would sit there scratching their head.

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.

Why They Suck

The short version: How the hell is anybody who doesn't know IVs and EVs already supposed to understand a word of this? Just because you get it doesn't mean those who actually need to get it will.

To recount all the things that are wrong with the above explanation, provided I didn't forget something:

  • It fails to mention the range of possible IVs (0-31).
  • It says the IV being ten points higher means the stat will also be ten points higher, but fails to note that that's only at level 100.
  • It also fails to consider the effect of natures in that.
  • It only vaguely implies that there actually is one IV for each stat, and does not mention that, say, HP has an IV too, which there is technically no immediate reason a person should assume.
  • It completely fails to mention the influence of base stats, in general. A person who doesn't know about IVs and EVs is reasonably likely not to know precisely how base stats work, either, and upon reading the above section is likely to just assume that IVs and EVs are the two main values of stats.
  • It does not actually mention that IVs are predetermined when you catch/receive a Pokémon, which is pretty fundamental - it only implies it later, when it's talking about EVs, with a vague "Unlike IVs..."
  • Effort values are not explicitly stated to be for each stat, either, though the implication is clearer.
  • It uses "EV" to refer to the actual points. Okay, so this has little to do with being confusingly written and I'm just using the opportunity to rant about another pet peeve, but seriously. You don't get "EVs" for beating Pokémon. You get effort points. The EV is the total number of effort points the Pokémon has in a particular stat at any given point in time. You make a freshly caught Pokémon battle a Sceptile for three Speed effort points and a Raticate for two, and then its Speed effort value is five. "Effort values" and "effort points" are not interchangeable.
  • It does not explain what it means by "Effort is not split". It jumps right into something else.
  • Again, it says "For every four EVs, one is added to your final stat" without mentioning that that only goes for level 100 or the possible influence of natures in this.
  • "And 510 overall" is easy to misunderstand as referring to something other than the total effort points.
  • It mentions "special berries", but not which berries those are, or how much they lower the EVs, and the way it words that ("to change their stats if you want to") is just puzzling.

With all this, a random clueless reader might get a vague idea about EVs and IVs influencing stats, but really not much more than that. It's all too confusingly worded and written and leaves out too much important information to be of any use. Most game mechanics pages are not this extremely bad in this regard, of course, but it's sadly rare that I see a game mechanics page that doesn't make at least one crucial slip-up that, while it doesn't really appear to harm the information value of the page, will easily confuse a reader who doesn't know the subject already.

Why They Exist

People understand the game mechanics (or at least think they do) and want to mediate their knowledge to others. Some just don't know quite how to explain it in a way that is clear to readers unfamiliar with the concept, and don't realize it because they can easily understand what they're talking about.

How to Avoid

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, and clarify everything that you think they might not quite get. Showing it to a third party and asking for opinions on how understandable it is can help.

Pointless Annoyances

A lot of less serious Pokémon websites contain at least some pages that are merely meant as silly fun. And silly fun can be somewhat amusing in its own way - when done right. But often, what is meant as silly fun loses track of the "fun" part and becomes a silly bore - and thus a pointless waste of both a page and the user's time.

How Do You Know Them?

Anything using multiple JavaScript alerts is highly susceptible to this, as are Marquee of Doom-ripoffs. If you go through any such page and end up feeling not mildly amused or indifferent, but frustrated or annoyed, you're dealing with one of these.

An Extreme Example

Providing an example of the marquee type despite the alert type being grossly more annoying, since the alert type would require you to actually go through it every time you enter this page. That would be bad.

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!

Why They Suck

The short version: They're not entertaining. Why else?

I'll confess: I actually have a bit of a soft spot for Do Not Click Heres, hence why my Marquee of Doom still prevails and why for the longest time I really would click them where I saw them, JavaScript enabled and all. It mostly stems from the site that as far as I know started the trend within the Pokémon fandom: Mew's Hangout, the site that first inspired me to make one. Unlike the Do Not Click Heres you see today, Mewkitty's was just a page with a giant Metapod on it, followed by a dramatic description of how terrible it is, and then the word "Metapod!" a couple hundred times in a wall of text, which I found sort of amusing when I originally came there. Even better, I happened to actually look at the wall of "Metapod!" and notice that there was a capital D in one of them... and clicking it gave me a page with a bunch of cool images on it. "Hey, neat!" I thought. "You actually get a prize for not just exiting the Do Not Click Here page immediately."

Fast-forward to a bit later, when I had found Suta-Raito and happened to actually read its ridiculously long news marquee, which somehow made me think, "I should get some sort of a prize for reading all this." My brain linked them together, and ta-da, a Do Not Click Here link that led to the original Marquee of Doom (though it was not called that yet). Which actually was a marquee.

The original alert Do Not Click Here was at one of Mew's Hangout's early affiliates; I can't quite remember which, but it's not as if it matters tremendously, what with all of those sites being long gone. It was basically an alert version of the Marquee of Doom: the webmaster rambled on about random things that were not the epitome of interesting, and eventually the alerts ended and there was a prize. Basically a Marquee of Doom, with the twist that you're forced to stay and get the prize. Which to me personally defeated the point - a large part of the idea of my Do Not Click Here was that the visitor would be constantly tempted to just think, "Screw it," exit the page and go do something else, so the prize genuinely meant you had achieved some feat of endurance, rather than just that you clicked a link and from there inevitably had to end up getting the prize after a bit of torture.

But here I use the word "torture" loosely. The idea was still, in both cases, that it was well possible to sit through the whole thing. It might be long, but it was akin to reading a school textbook - not precisely the first thing you'd want to read, but you could still read it, and parts of what was said could indeed be interesting or funny. That's something that's gotten lost in all the imitations along the way. Now it seems like webmasters who want to make a patience test of some sort feel obligated to include at least one excruciatingly long list, or a random recitation of the alphabet, or a countdown, or fake download progress, or repetition of the entire thing so far. Or they try to spice it up by making it extremely slow, by using the lowest possible marquee speed or putting one word in each alert.

Why do these features bring an otherwise possibly amusing page of silly fun into Sections that Suck territory? Because that's the moment where it becomes predictable. It is just about bearable to sit through something like my Marquee of Doom, because at least you don't know what's going to come next, or how long it's going to take in all, or whether I'm about to get to something fun. More importantly, it's designed so that you can keep up a continuous thought process while reading it - it's below my reading speed, but not so far below it that my mind has time to seriously wander before the next word has written itself. (Unfortunately, on slower computers, my marquee might actually be unbearable, and then I honestly advise you to stay away from it.) The worst offenders in my marquee are the stretches of Icelandic, which will hold no meaning for most of you, but at least those are never that long.

On the other hand, if you have a list or countdown or repetition, the moment that starts is the moment that the visitor will sigh and zone out. It is impossible to sit down and keep up a continous thought process reading something with absolutely no meaning or a repetition of something very long and utterly uninteresting that you have just read already. The moment you do that, it stops being a good-natured "See if you can be bothered to waste your time reading all this junk!" and becomes "Oh, hell, not worth it."

There is another trend in the alert version of this which I am sad to say is entirely my fault. After alert Do Not Click Heres had become commonplace, something possessed me to create "Art Thieves, Click Here", which was mostly just the best excuse I could find to vent my frustrations about having my sprites stolen all the time. But I "improved" on the concept by introducing special measures to prevent people from just holding down the Enter key to skip the whole thing. At first, there were just confirms that actually required you to press Cancel rather than OK. Then I figured that that wouldn't really mean people would actually bother to read the alerts, and since the entire point was that I wanted to force everybody to actually read my little rant whether they liked it or not, I got the brilliant idea of putting a password at the end which could only be found by keeping track of the random capitalized letters that appeared in some of the alerts. If it was put in incorrectly, the entire thing would then loop. Ouch.

Naturally, this led to other people implementing the password idea as a 'safety measure' against people who clicked the Do Not Click Here link but then just held down Enter instead of really sitting through all the alerts. Unfortunately, however, they also replicated my biggest failure: it was all too easy for somebody who had been reading all the alerts to miss one of the hidden letters or to accidentally put them in wrong, and then the whole thing would loop on them. Many of the new imitations were even worse, making the password either not part of the text of the alerts at all or making the instructions for deriving the password too vague. The fall of any security system is its false positives: an honest visitor who is reading should never have to be subjected to punishment for not reading, even aside from all concerns about how justifiable it is to force people to read it in the first place.

Why They Exist

Imitation of those who did them before, obviously. The reason the long lists, countdowns and so on became a part of the standard is just a misunderstanding of the actual point, which should never be to actually be excruciating to sit through, but merely to reward the reader for resisting a genuine temptation to stop reading (in the case of the marquee version) or to punish them for submitting to the reverse psychology inherent in a link that says "Do Not Click Here" (in the case of the alert version). Actually, the alert version's basis for existing in the first place is really very weak. Nothing you do on your website, even if it is technically "punishment" and even if you really do make it amusing, should actually inconvenience a visitor who doesn't care for it.

How to Avoid

I strongly suggest you do not make an alert Do Not Click Here or any other sort of page involving a long array of alerts. If you absolutely must make one, however, steer clear of all repetitions, countdowns, recitations of the alphabet or other meaningless lists, and for the love of God put a whole sentence in each alert.

Although all 'marquees of doom' are too obvious rip-offs to really work well as a part of any new website, if you must have one of some sort anyway, keep in mind that it should be text that the user can read just about continuously. Again, do not include lengthy lists, countdowns and so on, even if somebody is holding a gun to your head.

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 all for FAQs in principle, as seen by the sheer length of my own such section - writing detailed answers to all those tiring questions you keep getting, knowing that the next time anybody asks them you can whack them upside the head with the link to it instead of explaining it 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?

Any FAQ section where it is blatantly obvious that most of the questions have never been asked, either because the site is simply not big enough to attract the kind of idiot who would ever ask them, or because nobody would ever ask them, period. A variant is when a FAQ features a number of questions and answers that look suspiciously like reworded versions of entries in another webmaster's FAQ rather than this webmaster's own answers to questions that they actually got.

An Extreme Example

A hypothetical Not-So-FAQ that borrows 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.

Why They Suck

The short version: Think this kind of FAQ will help you? Think again.

Really, think about it. Why do FAQ sections exist? Because the webmaster wants to save him/herself the trouble of answering the same question fifteen billion times. You add a question to a FAQ when you've gotten sick of having to answer it over and over, either because you get it just that often or it's just that annoying. Why would you want to have a FAQ with questions you haven't actually gotten and have no definite reason to think you will ever get? No, "This other person got this question" is not a reason to think you'll get it.

What's worse is that not only does it not serve the purpose a FAQ is meant to serve: it gives a distinctly negative impression of you as a webmaster, in a number of ways:

  • It marks you as a follower, confirming that you'll make a pointless section just because everybody else has one. This applies doubly when you're obviously just ripping off questions from another FAQ that the reader has seen before.
  • It looks like a cry for attention, an attempt to make yourself look cooler than you are. "Look, I get hatemail and I make cool sarcastic responses to it!"
  • It makes you seem like you're trying to make your site look more popular than it is by pretending that you actually get a lot of questions about the site. Of course, sometimes you do get a lot of questions about the site, but here I'm talking about FAQs on smaller sites, where it is painfully obvious that those are not actually questions that you get frequently - and there it really does feel like a ploy to look more popular.

You don't want your visitors to get any of those impressions, now, do you?

Why They Exist

One could say that they exist because webmasters honestly want to deceive people to think that they're cooler and more popular than they really are. But being the believer in the fundamental goodness of human nature that I am, I prefer to think that those implications are accidental or subconscious and in fact they just do it because they think FAQs are cool. They see FAQs on other websites, think the questions and answers are amusing, and want to imitate it, naïvely thinking that, well, "If you got that question, I would probably get it too if I didn't put it in my FAQ, right?" And then they may add some of their own spice to it by just imagining how they would answer some other hypothetical questions if they did get them, without realizing that maybe their hypothetical questions are of the kind that just about nobody in their right mind would ever ask (such as "I'M G01NG T0 H4XX0R j00R SITE!!!!") or that they have unfortunate implications to users who see them.

That or they've just realized that making up answers to questions is fun. But that doesn't stop them from being a bad idea for a FAQ.

How to Avoid

Don't make a FAQ section until you actually feel a need for it because you really are getting the same questions a lot. And once you've made it, don't add a question to it until you have actually gotten it - preferably at least twice within a reasonably short period of time, but if a question is so amusing that you just have to let your visitors snicker anonymously at it, the temptation to put it up after getting it once can be irresistible. Just... don't ever put up a question that you haven't gotten ever, okay?

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

Why They Suck

The short version: This review is about you, not about Black and White.

Something like this belongs in an "About Me" section, not mixed in among information about the games. It's no use to anyone just knowing what you thought, unless it's you as a person they're interested in; what's interesting is what makes you think so. People have different views, and without context it's meaningless to know just that somebody on the Internet holds opinion X - somebody else on the Internet is guaranteed to hold the exact opposite opinion, and there is no immediate reason anyone should value yours over theirs.

There are three types of 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), reviews that are more about presentation than content, striving to entertain the reader more than to make a good or persuasive review. These are usually humourous and use the author's opinion on the subject more as a springboard into original entertainment than anything else; they are really only nominally reviews, since the way the rule of funny tends to override concerns of neutrality or logical soundness makes them inherently unreliable.

A single review can combine two of these types or even all three. However, a review like the example above captures none of these categories: it's too subjective and personal to be informative, too vague and poorly argued to be persuasive, and too straight-faced to be entertaining. And thus, the end result is that it helps no one at all.

This general principle applies to any kind of opinionated section, not just reviews; reviews are just the most common and varied example. For instance, if you're going to make a rant about why you hate the fourth generation, it won't do to just type out a long ramble rattling off the names of Pokémon you think are stupid and saying X, Y and Z parts of Diamond and Pearl were awful: you have to argue it in a way that might make somebody who actually likes the fourth generation think, "Hmm, that's a good point." You're probably not going to convince them to actually change their minds, of course, but your goal should be to make them at least see where you're coming from, not just to declare to the world what you think. If your rant doesn't do that, it's probably pretty worthless; the only thing you're achieving is irritating people who happen to disagree with you. (Yes, it really is much less irritating to read a rant you completely disagree with if it's well-argued than if it isn't.)

Why They Exist

Well, again, everyone loves to put their opinion out there on the Internet. They just don't realize how to present it in a way that's actually useful or interesting to read. They know they want to make a review or rant, but it doesn't occur to them that there's more to a proper review or rant than just writing down what you think.

How to Avoid

Decide what the objective of your section is right off the bat. If you want to be informative, provide a thorough objective assessment of the subject and keep the more personal opinions mostly out of it. If you want to be persuasive, build a proper argument explaining why you think what you think and backing it up in a convincing way. If you want to be entertaining, disregard all that but be sure it's actually funny.

Meanwhile, if you really want to just say what you think of something, stick it in your About Me section rather than trying to pass it off as content.


More coming whenever inspiration hits me (which tends to be after I've been going through a large number of affiliation requests).

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT