By Frank Spillers

Summary: Questioning Jakob Nielsen’s recent advice about competitor data and his advice to patent usability best practices.

Slashdotters react to Jakob Nielsen’s recent column. And they raise some good points:

• "The reason this logic doesn't follow for many software engineers and software patents, is that the stuff that gets patented is sometimes simple, and a horrible waste of cycles and time happens globally as people work around the patents".

• "Usability is required on *all* sites, not just the ones that have the resources to patent everything".

• "So if I come up with a great usability enhancement, I should patent it? How does that increase the usability of the web overall? We live in a sea of unusable web sites and horribly designed programs.. now he's saying "hey, the goal is actually not to make web sites more usable. The goal is to come up with usability enhancements that one or two web sites will use. The other sites can go stuff themselves."

• " just going to be a directory of patents? Just swap out any point where there is actual usability advice with the relevant patent number and you're done".

The key issue here, I think, is that Jakob Nielsen has an unhealthy monopoly on Usability Consciousness. He promotes best practices, he preaches obedience to his guidelines and when he postulates opinions they are interpreted as instructions.

More later on how this has eroded Jakob Nielsen’s popularity within the usability community.

Best Wishes,