Required checkboxes don’t make sense

Recently while filling out a bank form online, I had the option to receive emailed statements rather than dead trees in the mail. The checkbox looked like this:

Receive email statements

I preferred the dead trees, so I left the box unchecked and clicked “submit.” The page came back with an error and pointed out that checkbox actually looked like this:

Receive email statements *

Of course, I wasn’t being given the option to receive emailed statements, but rather the bank needed me to acknowledge that I would receive emailed statements, despite my preference.

It doesn’t make sense when you think about it. A checkbox field is always a required field, whether or not it has a little red asterisk. It only returns true or false; it can’t return null. It doesn’t make sense to give the user an error saying they didn’t give an answer for the checkbox, because not checking it is an answer. Continue reading