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What is mousetrapping?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Monday December 24, 2007 )

Mousetrapping isn’t anywhere near as popular a practice as it once was, but I still come across the milder forms from time to time. Some “gurus” advise webmasters that it’s a good way to keep people on your site. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mousetrapping in its most severe form is where you land on a site and popup windows appear en masse. As you close them, more pop up – certainly not a great way to win friends and influence people; in fact, in some countries, the practice is illegal. Back in 2002, a Pennsylvania man was fined $1.9 million for a particularly nasty typosquatting/mousetrapping scheme.

The tamer form of mousetrapping is to use scripting to “disable” the back button. While technically speaking, the back button can’t be disabled, scripting can be implemented so when the back button is clicked, it just returns you to the same page.

You’ve probably struck this yourself from time to time – so my question would be; did you find it to be a useful function or incredibly annoying to the point that if the person who ran that particular web site was in the room with you, you’d hurl expletives at the individual? Likely the latter :).

In summary, “don’t do mousetrapping”, no matter how many squillions of dollars some self-styled guru claims you’ll make from implementing the idea; it simply won’t happen – but you might end up with quite a few emails blasting you for it.



 

 
1 comment for What is mousetrapping?
  1. I have run across the tamer form of mousetrapping where the back button reloads the page. Didn’t realize what it was until now and honestly, I thought it was a glitch or something with my browser! I found it incredibly annoying but you seem to be able to get around it by opening the dropdown for the back button and selecting your previous page from the list instead of just clicking the button.

    Expletives? Why stop there? Are there sharp objects in my imaginary room…?

    Comment by Karen — January 7, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

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