Ben Thompson in today’s Stratechery Update on why Adobe’s recent subscription tricks are bad:

I would, generally speaking, prefer less government regulation rather than more, and I think I speak for a lot of people in tech in that regard. Those people in tech, though, need to appreciate the extent to which choices like this one made by Adobe invite exactly that. No, I don’t think this so-called “dark pattern” is that dark, if you take just a second or two to look at the plans on offer; yes, there seems to me to be far more egregious cases that break the law in question much more flagrantly (like publications that make you call to cancel). However, at the end of the day, Adobe wasn’t satisfied with harvesting the natural gains from their dominant market position: they had to make money off of people screwing up too, and it’s hard to feel bad for them facing regulatory action for not doing right by potential customers

This is such a clear articulation of a lot of different things

  • We too often equate sleazy with sinister. Both are bad, but one is an order of magnitude worse. People should be paying more attention, but companies shouldn’t be profiting off the inattention.
  • Regulation is a blunt instrument to stop bad things from happening. If you do sleazy things (that probably don’t warrant regulation), you’re tempting use of that blunt instrument.