[thelist] RE: checked boxes or unchecked boxes

John.Brooking at sappi.com John.Brooking at sappi.com
Tue Oct 26 16:01:50 CDT 2004

Chris said:
> The default state for the action to which the checked box 
> refers, and the default state of checkedness of the checked 
> box itself have no connection. Ethically, the default state 
> for the action should be passive; ie nothing happens.
> (snip)

So, to give a concrete example: If you have a checkbox which pertains to
adding someone to a mailing list, the combination of the wording and the
checked state should be such that if the user does nothing with the
checkbox, the person will not be added. In other words, the state of that
person vis-a-vis the mailing list is not changed - they were not there
before, and are not there afterwards. Philosophically, it would be the same
if the box was pre-checked and said "Do not add me to the mailing list", but
we all know that that's a bad user interface anyway, so hold your fire. I'm
just saying...

Ethically (and I hope this doesn't heat up the argument again), if you have
found from experience (*not* merely wishful thinking or push marketing) that
80% of the people who use your form *want* to be added to the mailing list,
is saving that 80% the work of checking the box sufficient cause for
pre-checking it, even though it goes against the ethical rule Chris stated?
What if the historical statistic was 99%? (To avoid beating this
almost-completely-decomposed horse any further, I might suggest you merely
contemplate this in the privacy of your own brain, rather than replying to
the list. I'm not necessarily looking for answers, just thinking out loud.)

In any case, I think this is a great way to put it which synthesizes both
points of view very nicely. Thank you, Chris!!

Scott said:
> This whole thread amazes me.

Yeah, I'm kind of sorry I perpetuated it by making the distinction of
checkboxes having just two states, etc. Although I do like philosophical

- John

This message may contain information which is private, privileged or
confidential and is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity
named in the message. If you are not the intended recipient of this message,
please notify the sender thereof and destroy / delete the message. Neither
the sender nor Sappi Limited (including its subsidiaries and associated
companies) shall incur any liability resulting directly or indirectly from
accessing any of the attached files which may contain a virus or the like. 

More information about the thelist mailing list