INPUT ERROR

Programmers imagine the most ridiculous ways to enter a phone number into a form

People don’t think much about the various forms they fill out online. They enter their names, addresses, and phone numbers. They click “same as shipping address” so they don’t have to do it all over again. And then they’re done, and their trinkets will arrive within six to eight business days.

What they don’t realize is that things could be worse. So much worse. Last month, this image began circulating on the internet:

Please enter your phone number (Imgur/Reddit)

What we have here is a dystopian vision of what the internet might look like if web developers suddenly stopped caring about user-friendliness. Usually, programmers write code to validate the information people enter into these forms. The validation code ensures that people have entered only letters for their names, and only numbers for their phone numbers. Because, believe it or not, sometimes people don’t.

Writing validation code can be a bit of a pain. So imagine a developer who’s new to making forms or otherwise very lazy, and decides to force users to enter letters and numbers in the right places. They might come up with something like the image above. It’d be difficult to enter the wrong kind of information into a dropdown list like that one, which contains all of the thousands of combinations of numbers between 0000 and 9999.

The image was originally posted last month to Reddit, and then to Twitter. We haven’t yet been able to verify whether it’s a joke or a screenshot of an actual website. Rest assured, we will update this article if we’re able to find out.

Please enter your phone number

Ever since programmers and designers started coming across the abominable image, they’ve been dreaming up phone number entry forms that are even more terrible and hilariously difficult to use. And, so far, they’ve been succeeding.

One developer suggested adding a simple plus button, which the user would click until getting to their phone number:

Another suggested this:

(@sinatrasapporo/Twitter)

A product designer created this one:

(Samuel Couto/Twitter)

This one changes the number based on the user’s mouse position:

(@hyperpape/Twitter)

One developer suggested this slider:

Another took a more random approach:

And this programmer suggested a way to avoid user input all together:

Eventually, programmers on Reddit started making fully-functioning, interactive versions of the awful forms, like this and this and this. Someone even created one out of the classic game Snake. The meme hasn’t stopped for weeks now, and iterations of it seem to be growing more detailed and elaborate.

Let’s all just hope the kind people who make real forms don’t get any ideas.

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