Skip to content
New issue

Have a question about this project? Sign up for a free GitHub account to open an issue and contact its maintainers and the community.

By clicking “Sign up for GitHub”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy statement. We’ll occasionally send you account related emails.

Already on GitHub? Sign in to your account

Proposed Ethical Web Principle: Avoid enabling and amplifying dark patterns #25

tantek opened this issue Mar 6, 2020 · 1 comment


Copy link

@tantek tantek commented Mar 6, 2020

The W3C TAG Ethical Web Principles mentions enhancing individual control and power and recognizes a few misbehaviors, yet focuses on decentralization, minimizing single points of failure, and enabling individual & DIY developers. All of that is good, however there is the larger class of “dark pattern” harms to be named and explicitly avoided in specification and technology designs.

The Principles should explicitly note (either adding to or splitting off from “The web must enhance individuals' control and power”) the existence of “dark patterns” in web user interfaces (see WP: Dark pattern and for examples), with a statement similar to countering misinformation like:

We will avoid introducing technologies that create new or disproportionately enable, benefit, or amplify existing user interface dark patterns, such as confirmshaming, misdirection, friend spam, permissions pressuring or escalation, threat of data loss etc. We should also avoid new technologies that could be easily abused by existing dark patterns to more easily cause new or worse harms to users. We should design specifications that explicitly plan for and mitigate potential dark pattern abuses.

And cite either or both of those above two references. See also for many more real world web examples.

We obviously won’t be able to prevent all dark patterns and their harms, but we can at least reduce some of them by calling them out, and avoiding new technologies that would increase the chance of users being harmed by existing and new dark patterns.

(Originally published at:


This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

@alice alice commented Mar 9, 2020

Could you give some examples of API design which explicitly encourages or mitigates against one or more of these patterns?

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment
None yet
Linked pull requests

Successfully merging a pull request may close this issue.

None yet
2 participants
You can’t perform that action at this time.