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When the close button doesn’t close

I wanted to read about Elena Kagan on Slate, but I was interrupted by a pop-up ad. "We are launching a store," declared the ad, an in-house promotion of Slate's new emporium for "Slate-themed products." This is something about which I care not one whit, so I clicked the close button. But instead of closing the pop up and returning me to the Kagan story, Slate whisked me away to a page devoted to promoting the store: "We're launching a store and you could win an iPad..."

Argh. I repeated this experience on two different computers, so it was no accident. And that's bad. Really bad. Undermining the foundation of civilization bad.

The web is full of all kinds of annoying and distracting advertising tricks, but the experience of having the close button fail to close something delivers a unique brand of torture. Since at least the debut of Windows 95, when Microsoft introduced that little x in the upper right hand corner, millions of people have been trained to believe that a click in that spot will promptly shut down the window (or web page) in which it resides. It's part of the indigenous culture of computing. X marks the spot for closure.

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