Consumer’s Reader: What are Dark Patterns and Why Do We Need to Know About Them - Part 8

In the first part of this post, we demonstrated how everyone encounters dark patterns because they have become part of the normal functioning of most platforms and sites, and we have given a definition for them. In the second part, we answered the question why we should talk about them, since we are so used to their application. In the third part we talked more about the harm of dark models and their characteristics. In the fourth, we explained why these dark models are so effective and destructive, and we began to divide them into groups to make it easier for us to identify them. We explained the meaning of sneak into basket, comparison prevention and misdirection. Then we talked about what the bait and switch, Confirmshaming, framing and disguised advertisements patterns are. Then came Ease, Hidden Information, Default Settings, Forced Continuity, Forced Disclosure, Captive Audience, or the Milk Factor), Rewards and punishments, Friend spam, Trick questions, Illusion of control, Attention grabber, Making personal information public. We end the taxonomy with a few more dark patterns.

Taxonomy of dark models

  • We never forget - supposedly to remember the platform or site you are on. In many cases, this is useful, but if the Wi-Fi network has memorized you so you don't have to enter a password every time, but forgot to uncheck that you agree to see your device, you don't know what may be behind this the next time you connect.
  • Grinding. Here's an example: you're constantly playing on the same, uninteresting level in an electronic game, to run ads every time you run out of life, until you decide to buy boosters or watch X-money ads to run on the other level. You pay, you play with more variety, you don't pay, you have variety in the ads, but not in the game.
  • Playing by appointment - For example, you play chess or another brain game, but the more interesting part, tournaments are by appointment or on a specific date. And you find yourself re-scherduling the program for the day in American time or for the date and time of the tournament, because you really want to compete with other players to capture this significant moment.
  • Pay to skip - Angry Birds and Farmville have been spotted with such dark patterns. They are similar to the previous ones, grinding and playing by appointment, but are wider in scope. For example, you can continue the game until some trees sprout there, which need 2 days. You better pay them to sprout as soon as you play so much. Either you shoot chickens of the same construction and there is no hitting until you look at the ads at every failure or pay for it.
    • Social pyramid schemes - you win virtual currency if you do something on social networks - you rate the game, invite a friend, etc.


Most of the listed dark patterns seem harmless, but when they are deliberately designed to mislead rather than help the user even overlap with many others, the latter can suffer serious losses that he or she does not even realize. How many children have accumulated bills of their parents without realizing it? If you think you are playing a free game or just reading interesting information on the net, do you realize how much time you spend on it and how much personal information you share? If you don't control yourself or your child, over time you may suffer from impaired vision from staring at a phone screen, spines in the cervical vertebrae, cysts from long sitting in a chair in front of a computer, plexitis from improper posture, gambling addiction, restlessness, disturbed sleep, confused perception of reality, there are many more to list. These negative effects do not appear immediately, most of them are felt only after a while.

To end this post more encouragingly, we add that some of these models become dark only when they are overdone or the goal is fraud, coercion, unethical involvement in some kind of behavior by designers aimed at the user. Many online platforms or stores, for example, collect well-meaning information about you to make it easier for you to find the really best deal at the right time for you. It is largely up to you whether you judge the moment correctly and the offer that meets your criteria.

Remember that you should always pay attention and do not forget to look for more options, so as not to be trapped in a dark pattern.

You should re-read this post from time to time to remember what are the types of dark patterns to make it easier for you to recognize them. In fact, this is a bit of a gray pattern now that we want to make you visit our site more often. To correct it, we add that it is good to do it only if you have this need.


If you feel that you have fallen victim to a dark pattern and thus suffered losses, you can try to resolve your dispute at EU ODR platform. You can choose NAIS as your ADR body.



Published on 17.04.2022 Back to news