You know it’s going to be a good one when a Facebook developer blog post starts with “At Facebook, our passion for serving users…”, so I wasn’t particularly surprised by this declaration that Facebook’s new policy aims to regulate the emotion of “surprise”:
Users must not be surprised by the outcome of an action they take.
Granted, everybody knows what they’re referring to. You click on a random tab in SuperPoke and suddenly you’ve accidentally notified your friends that you’re gay. Surprise!
I think it’s a dangerous trend to regulate the behavior of applications through anything other than technical means. Ultimately, the guidelines will be useless if they are full of arbitrary passages like this that are subject to interpretation. I now feel the need to sprinkle my apps with comments to avoid surprise — “Just so you know, when you click this button, the page is going to reload. Please don’t be surprised. Maybe grab a friend to calm you down in case you start getting nervous.”