Visible Recycle Bin Considered Harmful

Lazy-blogging (verb): The act of letting a thought sit unblogged for long enough that someone else blogs about it instead, thereby saving you the effort. cf lazyweb.

Case-in-point: Many of us OCD types find it impossible to sit with a non-empty recycle bin on our desktop. We just can't do it. It nags at our souls. (We're also the ones who defrag religiously and run Disk Cleanup at the drop of a hat). We just... must... empty... that... bin.

What does this have to do with lazy-blogging? Well, I've had a note to blog about the solution (set a maximum size for the bin, then use TweakUI to remove the temptation from your sight, and let it empty itself behind the scenes) for literally years. Plural. Thankfully Mike Torres beat me to it, and then Omar Shahine followed up with the important "set a maximum size" hint (otherwise your OCD will be going nuts worrying that you'll fill up your disk).

But what really stopped me was that I still haven't found the original inspiration for the idea. Somewhere there's a web page about how the original Apple Macintosh (or maybe Lisa?) designers now consider the "fat trash can" icon to be a terrible usability mistake, because a significant proportion of the population just can't let stuff sit in there. The problem is, I can't for the life of me find that web page. Ergo, I couldn't blog about it. Help me, oh lazyweb...

Edit: The lazyweb came through! Shane S. pointed me to bug #2 on AskTog's Bug Hall Of Fame. Quoting:

The engineers just though they were providing users with a "neato" way to tell an empty can from a full one, but to many users, the new appearance suggested a painfully distended belly. Millions of people developed the unnecessary and undesirable habit of immediately emptying the trash as soon as the swelling showed. Drop something in; empty the Trash. Drop something in; empty the Trash. It became unconscious habit.

Remember the fellow who dropped the document in the trash by accident? Now, when he saw the trash instantly swell up, he was likely to erase it forever—drop something in; empty the trash—relieving the trash of it's apparent distress, even as another portion of his brain, in very real distress, was yelling, "No! No! No!"