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« Need vs. Want | Main | More on bad ideas »

The persistence of really bad ideas

There are fifty states (proof: Clickable Map of US States.) This is a problem. If there were 5 states or 500 states, programmers would never have been tempted into forcing consumers to scroll through a pull down menu to enter their state when shopping online.

This means everyone from Texas or New York or heaven forfend, West Virginia, has to scroll all the way down in order to buy something.

This scrolling led to a similar breakthrough to enter your country. Afghanis get a big break (so do people from Andorra) but those in the biggest online consuming country on earth have to scroll all the way down to the 'U's.

No wonder so many people abandon shopping carts online.

This is not a post about how stupid this is.

This is not even a post about how easy it would be to fix (it's actually easier to put a text field in than the pull down menu).

Nor is it a post about how useless the precision here is. Knowing the state is not nearly as important as knowing the zip code, and the scroll down is unlikely to get you the right state every time anyway.

No, this is a post about how bad ideas stick around forever.

The reason is simple: in most organizations, you don't get in trouble for embracing the status quo.

More than a hundred years ago, Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to get rid of his enemies in the German government. He noticed that they were all over 65. So he decreed that this was the official retirement age, and it still is.

If you want to see what happens when you challenge the status quo, just say this at a party, "I know how to fix Social Security. Let's just raise the official retirement age for everyone who is currently under fifty. We'll take it from 65 to 70."

Stand back and beware the flamethrowers.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The persistence of really bad ideas:

» Bad ideas and alternative strategies from Niall Cook's Marketing Technology Blog
Seth Godin berates the drop-down box as an example of how bad ideas stick around forever, because [Read More]

» Bad ideas and alternative strategies from Niall Cook's Marketing Technology Blog
Seth Godin berates the drop-down box as an example of how bad ideas stick around forever, because [Read More]

» The persistence of really bad ideas from yet another f*$#&@! learning experience
Last week I wrote a bit on survivals, based on some excellent discussion of the topic at Learning about Lean and Management By Baseball. Seth Godin has a rant the infernal drop-box of states/countries that concludes with very much the same point. M... [Read More]

» http://www.askderekscruggs.com/153.html from Ask Derek Scruggs
Seth’s got a pebble in his shoe about drop-down boxes for choosing your state and country in e-commerce applications. I can see his point, but there is a solution. On all modern browsers, typing the first character of the state/country your looki... [Read More]

» The persistence of really bad ideas from Gil Friend
[Seth Godin] : No, this is a post about how bad ideas stick around forever. [Read More]

» The Bigger Picture from David McQueen
Seth Godin bemoans the drop down lists in many of the shopping cart software, and also emphasises the importance of a zip code. Good point. I prefer entering text but then it brings up another point altogether. Maybe it's me, but it ticks me off tha... [Read More]

» iPoetry from that canadian girl
Through Seth Godin, I found this wonderful poem based on the instruction "Do not eat iPod Shuffle". It *is* tiny enough to swallow by mistake after all. [Read More]

» The persistence of really bad ideas from OverMatter
"More than a hundred years ago, Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to get rid of his enemies in the German government. He noticed that they were all over 65. So he decreed that this was the official retirement age, and it still [Read More]

» The persistence of really bad ideas from OverMatter
"More than a hundred years ago, Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to get rid of his enemies in the German government. He noticed that they were all over 65. So he decreed that this was the official retirement age, and it still [Read More]

» Bad menus, bad taste, bad aerials... from Wireless Wonders
The drop-down box for US states annoys Seth Godin, who bemoans the persistence of bad ideas. It's persisted because everyone else does it. Well, so is mint-flavoured tooth paste and I loathe it. [Read More]

» The persistence of really bad ideas from Can I Get A What What
Link: Seth's Blog: The persistence of really bad ideas. Awesome observations. Bad ideas do stick around forever. I always wondered why 65 is the retirement age. Now I know. Thanks! [Read More]

» Seth Godin vs. The United States of America from brianstorms weblog
Seth Godin complains about the "persistence of really bad ideas", for instance, the U.S. State pulldown menus in so many web applications: This means everyone from Texas or New York or heaven forfend, West Virginia, has to scroll all the... [Read More]

» More on Seth Godin's bad ideas from Niall Cook's Marketing Technology Blog
Let's get back to Seth's original point of principle and consider why - in the corporate environment - you don't get in trouble for embracing (or perpetuating) the status quo. This surely is the key to solving all the bad ideas in the world, not debati... [Read More]

» "Better idea" is a relative term. from larry borsato
Seth Godin has started a discussion about how bad ideas persist over time, and he uses the example of the drop-down list of states we all deal with every time we sign up for something, or buy anything. He points... [Read More]

» Social Security Is Solved By Work from Opine Online - The Rubicon Blog
So, Seth Godin breaks up the party with the quote: I know how to fix Social Security. Let's just raise the official retirement age for everyone who is currently under fifty. We'll take it from 65 to 70. [Read More]

» The Dilbert Defense from Ed Batista
Seth Godin doesn't like pull-down menus for U.S. states. [Read More]

» bad ideas Stay bad from Savage Vines
I have been floating around the webverse and I cam across Seth Godin talking about the persistance of bad ideas. He made a great comment about drop-down lists of states, countries, what have you and how useless this use of drop-downs are. I agree but I... [Read More]

» Better Online Forms from Betterness
I'm not a programmer, so I have no idea what lead me to O'Reilly's Radar article on the overabundance of pull-downs, checkboxes and radio buttons in online forms. Something called Sliders was supposed to make entering city and state information [Read More]

« Need vs. Want | Main | More on bad ideas »