Just so you understand, I am not immune to criticism about the site performance. The thing is, I can’t immediately deal with every single complaint every single time one of you has it- sometimes, performance issues simply are not on our end, but rather, they are yours. Basically, I have to look at things in the aggregate, and look at a cost benefit analysis. Does it bother me that sometimes during high traffic nights, it takes you all a couple seconds more to load, or on rare occasions, the site simply hangs indefinitely? Yes, it does. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I really need to do anything, because from my perspective, a site that functions at top form 92-95% of the time is doing A work.
Now, none of this is meant to dismiss your complaints. I’m just saying that I look at this from a different perspective. When you are all “I CAN’T LOAD FUCK YOU AL GORE YOUR INTERNET SUCKS” and pissed about the site performance, I take a bigger view, and notice that several hundred other people were able to comment and thousands were able to access the website during the period you claim the site was unavailable.
Having said all that, I just talked to the blogmistresses, and at some point in the next few months we will be doing a site rebuild. One of our goals will be to streamline things so that there are not as many db calls, and that may include using fewer plugins. At this point, though, we are just looking at everything, and trying to make an informed decision on how best to keep this community ship floating forward without hitting any icebergs. So, while the redesign will not take place for probably a month to two months from now, keep in mind things you think make this site usable, and how we can make it better.
We’d like to make sure everything is rebuilt by June/July, so that we are ready to hit the nitrous and really cruise through the next election cycle with top-notch server performance. For now, though, we are in the planning/needs stage, so everything we do is tentative. I’d like to keep the look and the basic usability of the site as much the same as possible- I am a “dance with the girl that brung you” kind of guy. But if you think there are things we should definitely be doing better, we will give it serious consideration. And while I am at it, let me put in a word of support for the ladies at Hosting Matters and for Stacy at Sekimori. I’m big on supporting small business, and these women have been nothing but a real joy to work with the last 7-8 years. They have my unqualified recommendation, and if you ever need web hosting or site design, contact them. They’re good people, and I appreciate everything they have done for us.
This is the first of what will be a series of posts soliciting your opinion prior to us finalizing any decisions for the rebuild.
And criminy, that felt like corporate speak. I need to stick a bar of soap in my mouth. The things I do for you people.
Well I haven’t had any problems lately. But will just take this opportunity to thank you for the whole blog space thing.
Thank you Big Daddy Cole.
it would be nice, if when someone replys to a comment, the number of the comment shows as well as the name.
to make it easier to figure out what they are referring to.
Aw, you know you love us, John. And we love you right back.
Mostly because of the pets. But you’re cool, too.
Christ, I’m just so grateful this site exists–anything else is lagniappe.
On the contrary, I thought it was very well worded even while I was reading it. And very creative as well. Don’t be so hard on yourself……………..this time.
@redshirt: I’m still enjoying the Tunch through the door picture and can’t really imagine MORE Tunch than that. :-)
Love this blog. Thanks for keeping it running.
Is there a way to list posts by author? I see the Category and Archives drop downs, but one for author might be nice.
I have a slow connection and the site is loading beautifully now.
I have XP Firefox 8.01.
Before, it loaded slowly, but it did load.
As someone who recently emailed you with a complaint, I’d like to say that the problem must’ve been on my end. I got me a Mac-Mini and it can handle the latest version of Firefox (which the old Mac I was using couldn’t), and things are lightening fast and efficient for me now.
Even my typing skills have improved, but I’m only on my second drink so this improvement may not hold up.
I guess I’m just too easily satisfied…
I was on Twitter today and it looked different. Update?
And a couple of weeks ago, WP changed how it published a post. Also a few other things.
Better iPad support please. Reply is wonky on the iPad.
That’s about how it’s working for me now. And there is no complaint from this end, El Jefe. It is odd, that maybe once or twice an hour it does a kind of blink for a few minutes and won’t load, then is okay. When you think about it, it is a minor miracle that all this info stuff travels through some tubes, or air, and ends up on a box with a screen in my living room.
Does your blogmistress work on fridgerators?
You’re bent on going fucking microsoft/google/twitter way, aren’t ya ?
dogstunch lie, man.
You’ve added enough emo FPs that all you need to do now is turn this fucker orange, write a whiny book, root for the Cubs, and retool this blog as DKosII
oh oh, add comment ratings! Just kidding, please don’t.
I have never had any loading problems. Sometimes the edit function acts up a bit but if I proofread better before hitting submit, it’s really no biggie.
@Punchy: Yeah, emulate a dying dinosaur.
Hey, the prodigal Reply button came back AND you gave us some Tunch pics, so I’m pretty happy.
Three concrete suggestions:
1) If you’re looking at reducing the number of plug-ins, I think that mass of social media buttons below each post is a good candidate for the ax. They sometimes get in the way in the main site and often get in the way in the mobile site.
2) In the mobile site, I have a tough time putting in links in a comment because the links dialog box blocks the comment box. Maybe switching the shortcut buttons to run below the comment box would help? (Anyone else using the mobile site, please chime in).
3) This is more of a server/caching issue than a design issue, but people who type in the URL without the leading “www” often end up at a stale version of the front page that is missing the most recent few posts. Can Sekimori look into that?
Balloon Juice is inflaming my prostate. Plz fx nao. Thankyavermush,
I have become aware just how important layout and usability is to me spending a lot, or little time on specific blogs. The speed is secondary to that. In that regard, none have been more to my liking than this web log.
@Satanicpanic: yeah, nested comments too.
/ducks and runs.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
OT: Hubertus Bigend is real: Tommy Hilfiger menswear: Military and sports looks.
John, you’re my hero.
I really like the way Glenzilla’s blog handles “read more.” Of course, I generally (greatly) prefer posts that fit entirely on the page. Meaning “read more” is to be avoided in general. But I get that that is not always the best choice. But when It is, I like not having to re-load a whole entire piage. It doesn’t seem to be reloading at all, really. Just expanding magically. (Thank you Al GORE!!)
There seems to be a similar-feeling approach to comments — I think AmericaBlog has it, but you have to get to their comments page – so that’s not ideal, is it. The best would be a “click to expand” the post,” and comments that auto-load in the background — hovering might expand them, or just the first few with more hovering needed to drill in (as slashdot does for it’s older posts).
Sorry if this is too granular to be sensible, but thought it worth a shot.
Balloon-Juice, I just can’t quit you.
This is my favorite blog. Thanks for doing this – it makes my day better.
I’m interested to hear there are problems with Ipad. I have an Ipad but always just attribute problems to my own lack of technical know-how.
One think I’d really like to see is replies to specific comments being grouped together like on Ta-Nehisi Coate’s blog at the Atlantic, so when somebody says “X won the internet today” you don’t have to scroll back 40 posts to see what they said.
I’ve always found the creaky features of this blog part of its charm.
But slowness isn’t all on our side. There have been many occasions where I can go to any other intertube and only BJ is slow. I suspect that has to do with advert connections or whatever. Perhaps there should be more aggressive timeouts on that stuff.
The phrase “low hanging fruit” comes to mind.
RLY? Then why should we even bother to come here???
I <3 BJ !
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
Jesus. What the fuck am I going to do with my time if I’m no longer spending a couple of hours a day screaming, “Fuck you, WordPress?”
Those are called, as I understand it, “nested comments”, and they are an abomination.
Whiny The Elder
A more stable edit button, perhaps?
Oh, and also a button that make your computer dispense ponies and oral sex (note: AS TWO SEPARATE THINGS).
@Jim Pharo: That’s actually a good suggestion, and not hard to do. Especially for a blog that rarely has multi-page posts.
I would like to see the BLOCKQUOTE tag fixed. I know how to get around the multi-graf bug, but most people don’t, and your feed has the same problem. Paragraphs 2-whatever aren’t indented properly in Google Reader. I’ll try another RSS reader and see if it’s just me.
@Jim Pharo: No, no! The Read More is the devil. Very wonky and hang-y at times. I much prefer going to a whole new page.
Again, no! Nested comments mean more flame wars and can end up where there’s so little room left that each line in a comment is only one word. I much prefer the old style commenting found here.
@Anne Laurie: Seconded. No nested oomments. Plz keep them as is.
@Anne Laurie: yup, teh ebil scrooge of blogisthan.
Love this blog.
I think the main site is great, but I don’t like the mobile site. Headers ae too big, it’s difficult to scroll. Pleh. I use the regular site on my mobile devices.
Also, I miss the large comment numbers. It was easier to scroll through comments quickly, and provided a nice bit of design to an otherwise spare graphic layout.
If we’re talking about site improvements, can we fix the spam filter? It’s insane that we can’t talk about sociаlism or speciаlists without going through various tricks to avoid moderation.
Gin & Tonic
I think you should block comments by stupid people.
Also too: making sure your e-mail address stays integrated when you comment on the mobile site. Right now handle does, but the e-mail address needs to be re-typed for every comment. Annoying, it is.
@Yutsano: Yes, that’s one of the reasons I abandoned the mobile site. it just seems like such a waste to spend the time designing a mobile site and then not have readers use it.
@Gin & Tonic: cole is asking for ideas to improve the blog,not to kill it off instantly.
Villago Delenda Est
One of the main reasons I hang out here is because commenting is intuitive and easy. I just gave up totally on Atrios because every alternative he came up with for a new commenting system just blew giant chunks of fail. Still read the site daily, but never comment, even when he’s got something I’d love to comment on. In fact, I came here because he links her often, and the community is like his without a lot of the noise. He had a series of quite psycho trolls that did their damnedest to disrupt.
Main complaint is long load times on occasion, particularly during those times when something is happening and people feel obligated to comment frequently. It’s great fun, but also can be quite slow.
Like Violet, I prefer this format for commenting. Nested comments can be a serious pain and derail a general conversation and foster flame wars. Don’t need that, thanks. I’ve was kicking around GEnie and USENET in the 90’s, been there, done that.
My $ 0.02. Add the html tags in the comment editor. Also. Too.
@efgoldman: Least favourite business speak? “In order to better serve our customers” and “In order to give you better choice.” The first of these is shorthand for “We are going to shaft you like a Catholic altar boy, and there is fuck all you can do about it.” The second is shorthand for “We are going to shaft you like a Catholic altar boy, and there is only one thing you can do about it. However, since we have made that one thing as difficult as fighting a sabre-toothed tiger and slightly more painful, you might as well just bend over and lube up.”
I knew it! Sooner or later, we are all doomed to be locked outside, whining for treats!
J/k, John. My only real complaint is one about mobile/iPhone support: it’s a pain in the ass to always be required to enter my email address to make a comment. Other than that, I’m good.
Several people seem to be asking for threaded/nested comments like the ones at TNC’s site. I’m politely putting in a vote NO because while threading worked smoothly on Usenet (trn forevah!), it’s a real pain in the ass on the web.
If people use the reply to function, which makes a clickable link back to the source, that should make referents clear.
Oh, some more issues (which you may have answered before):
1) Fighting spam seems to include:
a) No more than 3 links per comment: can we get that number raised? Yes? No? Go fuck ourselves?
b) Verboten words that are locked into your blacklist, requiring creative re-spellings like “soshulism”. From what I understand, this was non-negotiable because the blacklist couldn’t be edited. Has this changed?
2) The odd way in which a comments page refreshes. If I’m just reading but not posting to a thread, I find that when I get to the bottom, refreshing stays there and shows the new comments below, but if I post, it bounces up and down around my comment.
In addition, I think your servers get hammered pretty badly as people reload and reload busy comment threads.
Can you use some kind of Ajax solution to provide a “x new comments” link that appears within a short period so that we don’t have to reload the entire page? Smoother for us and much less of a hit on your servers, especially on long threads.
If you want to see an example of this, take a look at any busy thread at Metafilter. This one seems to be fairly busy right now. The Metatalk thread announcing the change is here.
(“Ajax”: your webmistress knows what this means — I’m not throwing jargon at you for the sake of jargon.)
@Gin & Tonic:
I like the comic relief. For the persistently obnoxious, there’s always the pie filter.
I’ve noticed the mobile version has issues loading the images.
Not really that big of deal, but rather annoying. I miss the Tunch pics while mobile :(
I guess if you could stop being such a goddamn glibertarian Obot who is always blaming everything on Obama when you’re not busy obeying everything your master Obama commands, that would be nice.
Villago Delenda Est
Oh, the snark is strong with this one.
This is my go-to political blog and I have no real complaints. I would love it if you could fix/improve the following though:
1. When you go to balloon-juice.com, the site is out of date compared to http://www.balloon-juice.com.
2. The one thing I love about DK is that comments that have posted since you last visited are marked with [new]. Something like that here would be very helpful for following along on the huge threads.
Love the site. The only issue I have — and I have it on both work and home computers, so I don’t think it’s just me — is when the text jumps the margins and continues off into infinity while the ads re-arrange themselves directly in front of whatever text I’m reading. (I’m running Windows 7/Internet Explorer 8.) This happens about 25% of the time. I can fix it by going into Tools/Internet Options/Security/Custom Level and disabling active scripting, but this is a pain in the ass because I forget to change it back and then the other sites I visit are all wonky. Anyway, if you could fix it, that would be dreamy!
@efgoldman: That’s crazy; I had no idea that Disqus was run by the Catholic Church.
OK, FINE, the comment thread doesn’t bounce around any posted comments we make any more (at least, not in Firefox 10). Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
But the rest of my suggestion re a more dynamic way of showing new comments stands. (I have no idea if this would work with WordPress at all: I know nothing about it except that it likes to fuck me over.)
Don’t complain: at least you know what you’re doing: I couldn’t understand most of it…..
No, I got it in by using a Cyrillic а rather than a Latin a. That avoids the filter, but requires a modest amount of trickery. I don’t think you can get around the filter by editing a comment after posting it.
ETA: Nope, didn’t work. Using a (wrongly) forbidden word flags your post for moderation even if you add it while editing.
Anything that requires a mouse hover (um, Reply) does not work on the iPad. There is either touch or touch not; there is no hover.
I’ve had problems with it at work. Something about the firewall. I’ve had problems without the firewall as well. And this is pretty much every day.
Now I found that if I do it with text browser like lynx or w3m it works great, no problem at all. I think it has something to do with links going to the ad sites, maybe?
hi John, i’m a lurksalot, & your site has been working fine for me since the last spate of improvements, kudos to the mistresses.
your laid-back ‘tude to a future upgrade is fine w/ me. i like reading your front-pagers.
props to efgoldman for the ‘block that metaphor’ comment, it was always a treat to see them interleaved into the print edition of the NewYorker mag print edition.
John Cole, you are a gracious host. I understand FYWP and all that goes with it, and I am grateful you take care to run this site with such fine folk helping you.
The shit that hangs this place up ain’t your call, it’s the damned ad servers. When something goes *URP*, in my humble universe it’s one of the pagead loads hanging. Maybe its because I run a naked Chrome install (IE still runs the text off the Gaia-damned right border), or maybe XP just sucks. Who the fuck knows.
That and the
replyedit function seem to be the demons. And FYWP. Doubt that helps much, but that’s the view from here.
Thanks again for running a really good site.
@Violet: Every other author would be a variation of Arkon DougJ.
Love the site, love the Tunch/Lily/Rosie, love Grand Pooh-bah JC – found BJ 5 years ago, been my first daily read ever since – –
– – even when the DFH-punching was at its peak, and I was one of the punchees during the health care debate. (If constant references to “11-dimensional chess” didn’t drive me away, the occasional slow load ain’t gonna. )
Besides site performance is mostly fine. 92% – 95% is @#$%^% GREAT in my book.
Just stick the Honorable Charles Pierce/Esquire Politics in the Blog links – he’s my second read every day – and Nirvana shall reign.
Seriously – thanks so much for this place.
If it’s not too early to put in suggestions, I’d like to suggest a pink ribbon theme.
@Jay C: I only know how thanks to a fellow BJ reader who told me last time I griped about it!
I’ve never dealt with Stacy at Sekimori, although I used to read the blog there, but I’ll put in an additional plug for Hosting Matters. Annette and her team are super nice and super-fast resolving problems.
I’ve had little-to-no trouble with Balloon Juice. Once in a while it doesn’t load, so I go read something else and come back. That solves the problem for me. ;)
Much of the slowdown is the ads. Specifically, stalling the page while the ad server responds, so it’s not your server or the design or our computers (I manage much more involved sites than this one).
You might just want to look through your ad revenue, see if there are any ads that aren’t really paying off and ask the web mistress if they happen to be problematic. Lots of ads aren’t always the solution. Good ads more often are, so focus on the ones that pay the best. Gruber has a pretty high traffic, but not many more page views than you (he only has one page, you have dozens each day) and he’s paying himself a salary off of one ad on the page, one in his rss feed, and one sponsorship message per week. So, I think maybe you can lighten the page resources without significantly reducing your revenue.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve experienced a marked increase in the number of times access to this site has been delayed for up to one minute or the message “Failed to Open Page” eventually appears.
This problem may occur at any time of the day/night and does not seem related to popular threads or periods when I might expect traffic to be heavier than usual. Also, as srv noted above (#30), when this happens it is only BJ that is slow; other sites I visit appear instantaneously. I’ve had no equipment changes and I only read this blog from my Mac at home. It can be frustrating, to be sure, but nothing that a few curses can’t handle.
Like several other commenters above, I strongly urge that nested comments NOT be adopted here, for reasons both of aesthetics and coherence.
Almost always I will include the number of the comment to which I am replying. Adding such a feature might be a small improvement, particularly on long threads.
One feature that I would appreciate being adopted here is the “Recommend?” or “Like?” prompt that appears on several sites I visit regularly, e.g. the Guardian, Krugman’s blog. If for no other reason than improving commenter morale, i.e., “at least someone is reading what I wrote.” (Here I betray my own insecurity.)
Overall, I’m far too much a Luddite to propose, much less apprehend, substantive recommendations for site improvement. Instead, I remain profoundly grateful to all those tiny men and women who labor behind the screen to make all this Intertubing so miraculous.
Oh, and next time you touch the banner, you should make the balloon green.
@Gin & Tonic: Hey, I resemble that remark.
As someone who has labored on the front pages of multiple fortune 500 companies, I feel somewhat confident in stating that the latency is primarily caused by third party dns lookups and resource downloads.
In other words, if your ad provider has slotted in an ad from blah.com, and blah.com is having a bad day on the Internet, you’re having a bad day on the Internet. Not nearly enough people understand the dependency networks that the Internet creates, but I welcome them to view source and count the number of domains referenced.
I would prefer the “like” or “recommend” buttons NOT be added. Comments can become a popularity contest and those buttons can increase any echo chamber tendencies. I much prefer each comment standing on its own merits. As for commenter morale, if someone needs that much reassurance, maybe commenting on a political blog isn’t the best place to look for it.
Bago: hey nerd, way to rock Friday night!
Oh gawd, no, to handsmile @70’s suggestion for “like” “no like” nonsense. Wrong idea for these threads.
I’ve heard good things about http://wpengine.com/ but haven’t tried it myself yet.
Comments like this from someone like you makes the decision easier.
Can you please add the word “maftoon” to the spam filter?
A few months back, when I was testing some changes to cleek’s pie filter, I noticed this. Since I had the Chrome developer console open, I could see that almost without fail, when there was sluggishness, it was caused by an ad request. Most of the time, the “Premium BlogAds”, was the culprit.
Since a website is not embedded linux, in a real-time environment, I know nothing about it. However, isn’t it possible “partition” a website, so that certain parts (the ads) are processed independently from the others?
So when a browser does the initial “GET” for the page, the ad requests get handled by a separate “worker thread” on the webserver, that doesn’t block the rendering of the other content?
I have no complaints.
My vote is in speed column, clean is pretty, I’m here for the textual ranting and snark. My pebble to the pile of general thanks added as well.
I’m going to let John parse through and decide what’s priority for him, but two things we (on the Hosting Matters side) will be working on:
– investigating the possibility of adding host entries in for the IPs of the ad sites…might speed up their load time if they don’t have to go relying on dns lookups for each request
– a rewrite to force requests to the www version of the site so you all don’t get the cached version of the non-www when you visit
JR in WVa
THIS! Load the page’s information, regardless of how the ancillary [advertisement] calls to other sites are coming along.
That way we get to consume the meat while the fluffy cotton candy loads in the background.
@Stacy: Thanks, Stacy. Making those changes would be awesome!
FFS, fix the margin issue, where the ads load over the top of the posts. Yeah, I know, I know, the response to that has been “use a different browser.” But should someone have to switch over to a different browser every time they want to look at your site? It’s not like this is an issue on an obscure piece of software – it’s an issue with the most widely-used web browser. My usual response is to just leave and give up trying to read or comment, and while some might think that’s a good thing, I’m sure there are others who you might want around who do the same. Think of it this way – a gas station that stocks only gasoline that will work in half the cars on the road is a bad business model and a frustration to the other half of potential customers. Pretty much the same goes for a website that will only work on certain web browsers.
Jennifer, what browser are you using? Do the ads sit over the posts on the left only, or does the text run off to the right and get hidden by the right sidebar content, or both?
@Comrade Mary: I’m using IE8. Please, no lectures on how it sucks. I find it easier to use – at least everywhere but here.
The ads sit over everything. I usually get some banner ad centered over the middle of the content of the latest post on the homepage & if I go to the post itself, then all the left-hand column ads are skootched over blocking out the beginnings of the first 5 or 6 comments. The text scrolls way over to the right, and the ads in the right-hand column block any text over there. It really makes the site unreadable – not just jacked-up looking, but completely unreadable.