Peter Marklund

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Supposedly Good Web Sites are Still Immature

I was reminded of the immaturity of the web when I registered at the Lunarstorm community recently. Lunarstorm is the by far biggest online community in Sweden and was elected best Swedish website 2002 by Internet World.

Given this award and the popularity of the site my expectations were of course quite high when I set out to sign up for an account. But as I realized previously when I tried to register at QXL (the auctioning site) registering at web sites can be quite a hurdle indeed. The problem at the QXL site was that I typed my address as Ingemundsvägen rather than Ingemunds väg and they were validating the address against some database at the swedish post.

In the case of Lunarstorm, the only thing that saved me from giving up when the registration form kept complaining about my input was that I was able to read the Javascript code of the page to figure out how validation was done. It turned out that only swedish phone numbers are accepted, and international prefixes such as 0046 or +46 are not permissible mind you. The bigger problem however was that the form won't accept foreign addresses. Or rather, my danish address was ok, but then the area code had to consist of 5 digits so I ended up supplying them with a faulty one. To add irony to the story, when I diligently tried to submit a trouble report form to tell the administrators of the site about my registration problems I got - surprise, surprise - an error message! When clicking the back button to see if I could resubmit the form my text was gone. At that point I left Lunarstorm...

These experiences confirm just how immature the web, and computer programs at large, still are, and how even the best sites out there are very lacking in terms of usability and reliability.