a note to AOL

Checkboxed options should never, ever be phrased in the negative. Never. If a user is going to turn something off, the user is going to be expecting to uncheck a box. If you have a box named something like "disable graphical smileys" somewhere buried in a huge paned preferences interface, a lot of users are going to just scan the panes looking for a checked box to turn off, and will look right past that unchecked "disable graphical smileys" box several times before they find it... if they find it.

Oh, and by the way, maybe that particular feature should be turned off by default, or perhaps the user should be asked upon signing on for the first time whether the feature is wanted. I mean, i guess you think it's a really cool feature if every time a user types a :) or a :( or something it is ripped out and replaced with a hideous grinning spectre icon that i'm pretty sure you stole from Kid Pix and which causes literal psychic pain to look at.. but still, not all of us do.. and keep in mind that AIM is the kind of program that people are going to be using on a variety of computers without being able to easily carry their preferences with them.. like, some of us frequently come into random computer labs and use AIM on a computer we've never been on before.. and since it's a different computer every time we have to deal with signing on unsuspecting, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, as we are trying to carry on a conversation peacefully,

this goddamn icon jumps out of nowhere into words we have written, and there is nothing to do but

recoil in horror and stumble into the preferences to turn off that goddamn feature we forgot we had to disable.. the exact same thing that happens EVERY SINGLE TIME WE USE THIS GODDAMN PROGRAM