The internet is wonderful, but it's also a landfill for many annoying things. Here are our top 10 online annoyances and how you can fix them for a better browsing experience.
10. Too Many Ads
Ads are one of the most obvious (but nonetheless biggest) annoyances on the internet. It's not necessarily because they're ads, but because there are so many of them and they're frequently intrusive. Fortunately, blocking them is easy. Just pick up a copy of an ad blocker for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Internet Explorer. (Though remember — some of your favourite sites do rely on advertising to make a living!)
9. Excessive Flash
Like ads, Flash might not be so bad if it was used in moderation. Or if it hadn't become so bloated. Or it didn't often overtake your CPU. If Flash is driving you nuts, you have a couple of options. If you're looking for browser-specific solutions, you can pick up FlashBlock for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Safari. Additionally, on Mac OS X, you can use FlashFrozen for a one-click solution to an overactive Flash plug-in. You can also use ClickToFlash for Safari on Mac OS X so that you have to click to load any embedded Flash movie on a web page.
8. Tedious Forms and Logins
While most web browsers save your passwords and help you fill out online forms, that's only particularly useful if you use one web browser. While you might stick with the same web browser on all your systems, you're often out of luck on your mobile devices. It's also troublesome if you decide to eventually change web browsers. Using a password service that works across everything you use—on desktop computers and on your phones, portable media players, and tablets—puts this annoyance aside. Despite recent issues, I still like LastPass for the job. Of course, there are a few other great options should you prefer them.
7. Registering for New Accounts
Sometimes you want to try out a web service without going through the trouble of registering online. Sometimes you need to just use that service quickly and will have no use for that account later. Whatever the reason may be, registration means giving out your personal info and that's not always something you want to do. Fortunately there are databases of public usernames and passwords for you to borrow in these cases. BugMeNot is a great option and comes in browser-extension form for Chrome and Firefox, plus you can access it via the BugMeNot web site which also provides a bookmarklet for virtually any browser.
6. Ugly and Confusing Web Sites
Not all web sites have simple and intuitive user interfaces, and many are just plain ugly. If you want to improve a particular site, you can do that with Userstyles. Basically, they just override the CSS to make any site look different (and hopefully more usable). There are also extensions and add-ons that help as well. For example, you can alter YouTube (Firefox and Chrome), Facebook (most browsers), Twitter (using Greasemonkey), and—of course—Gmail (Firefox and Chrome).
5. Endless Social Networks
Everyone (or every company, perhaps) is embracing social media. The upside is there are a lot of cool webapps. The downside is you're going to have trouble managing all those cool webapps. Unsurprisingly, there are a handful of tools that help you manage your various social media accounts. For starters, check out FellowUp, Nutshell Mail, and our top five social media managers.
4. Unhelpful Search Results
A lot of sites have ineffective search options. Many people also feel that even Google isn't all that useful lately. You can, of course, learn a few techniques to help you create better Google search queries. You can also try some alternative search engines and methods if you want an alternative to Google. You're not always going to find what you want, but learning a few new tricks and expanding your options can be a big help.
3. Fake Online Reviews
When you're shopping online, reviews can be helpful in making a decision. They can also be fake and misleading. How do you know? As we've previously discussed, the biggest tells are reviews with no caveats, were all posted shortly after one another, only really talk about product features and not the pros and cons of the product, and the usernames of the reviewers are all very similar. While there's no magic browser extension to easily identify a fake review, if you look closely you can detect fakes pretty easily.
2. Waiting to Download Files from File Sharing Services
If you've ever visited MegaUpload or RapidShare, you know that downloading a file from either site with any expediency requires a premium account. If you don't have a premium account, you're stuck with slower speeds and a countdown timer that forces you to wait. This is designed to annoy you into paying. While you can't fix the slower speeds, you can bypass the wait times with a clever Firefox extension called SkipScreen. Supposedly Skipscreen was also ported to Chrome, but it currently appears to be missing. One less-robust alternative is RapidShare Download Helper.
The internet can be a great place for a discussion, but not when the trolls come out to play. Mean-spirited people bring down the mood for everyone, so it's worth learning to spot and hide trolls. If that's not enough, you can always try cognitive therapy.
Of course there are many money annoyances on the web. What bothers you the most? And have you found a decent solution? Let us know in the comments.