In the early days of HTML, the most hated tag was the <blink> tag, which made text under it blink. There were hardly any sensible uses for it, and a lot of browsers now disable it. I just tested it in this post, and WordPress actually deleted the tag from my draft when I tried to save it. (I approve!)
Today, though, the <blink> tag isn’t annoying enough. Now we have the animated GIF. It’s been around since the eighties, but for some reason it’s become much more prevalent recently. It’s the equivalent of waving a picture in your face while you’re trying to read something.
I can halfway understand it when it’s done in ads. Advertisers want to get your attention away from the page you’re reading and click on the link to theirs. What I don’t understand is why people use it in their own pages and user icons. It must be a desire to yell “Look how clever I am!!!” over and over again as the animation cycles.
Fortunately, some browsers provide an option to disable it. Firefox used to let you stop it with the ESC key, but last year removed this feature.
If you think that your web page is boring and adding some animated GIFs is just what’s needed to bring back the excitement — Don’t. Just don’t.
Update: I just discovered that a page that was driving me crazy because even disabling animated GIFs wouldn’t stop it was actually using the <marquee> tag. I believe that tag is banned by the Geneva Convention.