What's a dark pattern?

A Dark Pattern is a type of user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.

Harry Brignull and Marc Miquel outline many of the primary mechanisms used by devious designers on their excellent website, Dark Patterns. I found myself thinking about these patterns yesterday, as I attempted to download and install a Windows file utility without accidentally installing a bunch of junk I didn't want.

The process went like this:

I decided the least bad response to this installer was to load up a bare VM, install it, use the utility, and then rollback the VM to the pre-install state.

The short-term result of their Dark Pattern usage was that I temporarily installed crapware into a VM.

The long-term result was that I became more convinced that App Stores and sandboxed applications will become increasingly prevalent, as this is just too hard to navigate.