Internet dumbasses: You can tell by their typing

One of the web applications I’ve built at work requires end users, who are generally salespeople at appliance stores, to go in and register and set up accounts for themselves on our websites. Most of the people are able to register without problem, and log in and start using the application. But, as always, there are those who have trouble – there are people who don’t register properly because they fly through the screens too fast and don’t follow directions, and there are other people who just aren’t that computer-literate. They get frustrated and call for help, and I have to go into the database and find out what happened. Having done this for a while now, I’m beginning to notice some trends.

There are people who type EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS. They type their name in as BOB SMITH, for example, and their address as 100 SOMEWHERE LANE, MEMPHIS, TN, 38103. They type in their e-mail address as MYEMAIL@MYISP.COM. These people make up about 30% of all registered users, but they make up about 60% of all people who have trouble with registration. This subgroup is also the most likely to leave their e-mail address field blank because they don’t have an e-mail address.

Then there are people who never use caps. They type their name in as bob smith, and their address as 100 somewhere lane, memphis, tn 38103. They type their e-mail addresses in all lowercase, but that’s not unusual because most e-mail addresses are in all lowercase. Looking at the database, I see that this group makes up about 10% of registered users, but they account for 30% of all registration problems. They’re the most likely to have typos in their address, their e-mail, sometimes even their name.

And finally, there are people who use proper case when registering. They type their name in as Bob Smith, and their address as 100 Somewhere Lane, Memphis, TN 38103. Their e-mail address is usually typed in lowercase, but as I noted before, that’s a common convention. Approximately 60% of all registered users typed their info in proper case. These users account for at most 10% of the registration problems.

Who’s gonna screw up? You can tell by the typing…most of the time.