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The Safari Reader arms race

June 14, 2010
By

Last week I caught a lot of heat for my column about Apple’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. The column seemed to go a bit viral and I got quite a lot of visitors, many of whom were angry. They felt that they were entitled to a quiet reading experience, totally free from web clutter and ads.

However, what many of these folks did not realize was that they were not looking for web content, what they really wanted to experience was an ebook. Currently most ebooks (as far as I’ve seen) do not contain advertisements. If you read them on the Kindle or in an app on the iPhone/iPad/Whatever, you use a more or less standard sort of interface.

I love ebooks; I read a lot of them via the Kindle and iBooks apps on my iPad, and even my ancient Kindle. Ebooks can be a wonderfully relaxing reading experience. I love to kick at night and read a book on my iPad. It helps me mellow out and relax after a long day, and I go to sleep thinking about whatever just happened in the story I was reading. Ebooks are one of the best reasons for owning a tablet device.

Reading an ebook can be a wonderfully relaxing experience.

The Glorious Chaos of the Web!
While I very much appreciate a quiet reading experience for ebooks, web pages are not ebooks. The web was never meant to provide a reading experience similar to an ebook or print book. The web is color and chaos, with sites having different interfaces and navigation. There is no standard uniformity to web site experiences, nor should there be. Things are wild and woolly on the web, you never know what you are going to get when you visit a site.

The glorious chaos of an article on the web.

Apple, by adding Reader to Safari 5, is essentially trying to force an ebook style interface onto the web reading experience. It will never work out over the long haul because web publishers will resist and the end result will be an arms race, with publishers on one side and Apple on the other.

The Arms Race Begins
Already some folks are analyzing how Reader works and are busy plotting to prevent their content from loading in it:

Safari 5 reader displays the pages of a site without advertising, apparently a way for Apple to go after Google, the Adsense service of which monetizing the majority of websites.

This contradicts the rules of a site when conditions prohibit the modification of pages before their display by any external tool.

That leaves webmasters to find a way to undo this tool to maintain their advertising revenues.

Apple has not made the tool itself, it only integrated an open source software, Readability. The source code is here.

Actually the Readability team has initially praised Apple for its product before realizing that it had used its own code.

(A tip of my hat to my reader Thinol for alerting me to that page in the comments in last week’s article.)

If publishers keep trying to block Reader, and Apple keeps patching it so it works again, things may just get uglier and uglier. It would not surprise me if lawsuits start happening at one point or another.

It is similar to the anger that some publishers feel when it comes to ad blockers. A while back, there was an attempt by one site to block Firefox users (since they were using a popular ad blocker) and that, in turn, pissed off many people:

“A site has sprung-up recently called “Why Firefox is Blocked.” They claim that webmasters should block all users running the Firefox web browser (sorry, morons, but Firefox is king) because of the AdBlock Plus extension. They claim that users of the extension are thieves because they use websites while blocking the advertisements. By some weird logic, they believe that webmasters should be given the option of blocking AdBlock. Seeing as they aren’t, they think that Firefox itself should be blocked.”

I would really hate to see this sort of thing happen.

However, it was easier for publishers to deal with the ad blocker extensions, since users had to install themselves. Safari Reader takes it to a completely new level since it is built-in to the browser.

Each publisher is going to have to figure out how he or she wants to deal with browser features like Reader. Some may opt to go to war with Apple, in any way they can. While others may take this opportunity to make changes.

How Should Publishers Respond?
I have decided to take a different path in response to Reader. Yeah, I could try to block it or whatever. But why bother? I’d just end up going tit for tat with Apple’s Safari developers, and that would just help them because then they could market their browser by saying “Hey, don’t like ads? Use our browser instead of Firefox, IE or Chrome!”

Some of the folks who posted comments in last week’s column actually made some great points about readability (others were simply angry Apple Cultists with way too much time on their hands). I thank you if you were one of the ones that took the time to post meaningful thoughts and feedback. Constructive criticism is always welcome and appreciated.

I’ve made a few changes to my blogs, based on some of those ideas. Improving readability is certainly a noble goal, and one that we should all strive for. Whether or not it will be enough to discourage people from using Safari Reader is debatable. I’m not sure that all publishers can attain the goal of making their sites function like an ebook. But I guess we’ll find out as time goes by.

If you’re a publisher who is angry about Safari Reader, consider making changes to your site that help deprive Apple of the ability to increase its share of the browser market. Serving your readers by improving your site’s readability might just be the best way to strike back at Steve Jobs, and his evil empire.

What’s your take on this? Do you think web pages should be just like ebooks? Tell me in the comments.


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123 Responses to The Safari Reader arms race

  1. anho on June 18, 2010 at 7:40 am

    It sounds ridiculous but I don’t think readability is top-of-mind for many interaction designers today. How else might we explain the look and feel of most news websites? New developments—including the launch of Safari Reader—promise to change all that. I’m hoping this will force people to rethink how articles and blog posts should be presented on the web. The question, of course, is how to assess the readability of a specific design, but I was thinking that we might actually be able to use Reader for this very purpose: http://www.buildingtothink.com/2010/06/website-readability-as-a-key-performance-indicator/

  2. It's me on June 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Even a clown pants design like this site becomes mildly usable with reader. You should be grateful. You just type, we’ll handle the rest, thank you (because obviously you don’t have a clue).

  3. Walter on June 16, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Yep Toast, think you’re right about not being able to control it. But especially since so many people said so many things spot on already, it started to feel a bit like mobbing too me :-) :-) Jim doesn’t seem to WANT to get WHY people don’t think his blog looks very classy – dismissing there comments as the comments of Apple fanboys – and why it will eventually be, I think, counterproductive even (apparently he wants to get freelance assignments with it, but I don’t think potential magazines etc. will be very impressed with the dodgy ads). Again though, still: don’t think that ‘Alice’ should be able to just ‘get away’, without any comments I mean, with basically – yes – ‘cruel’ behaviour like that…

  4. Toast on June 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    @Walter

    One thing to remember about blogs like this is that they are very, very public. I don’t know the usage stats, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that after getting Fireballed, that maybe Jim got another 100,000 hits. I profanity laced diatribe out of 100,000 isn’t too bad! That means that 99.999% of people were reasonably polite.

    That post might be the rudest thing Alice has done all year. Or not. Point is, this kind of noise is a constant on the internet, because we can’t control the floodgates of behavior. It’s either ignore or obsess. Of course, all of us posting here were unable to ignore the irony of Jim Lynch criticizing ad blockers while simultaneously being one of the strongest justifications for them to exist. We just gave him a lot of traffic, right at a moment where we wished he had no traffic. We all fed the troll.

  5. Walter on June 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Haha Toast, saw the cartoon. Well, anyway: this was the first time I left a comment on a blog, and I’m surprised by the way some people express themselves. I mean: I don’t agree with Jim, and said a thing or two myself, but no need to try to take somebody down is there? It’s his blog for crying out loud, we’re still ‘guests’ here, and I don’t understand these people that just take out there frustration with life in general. It’s just not normal. You can say anything, but why getting that rude? If this is normal, then I don’t think I will leave comments anymore even, just don’t want to be in that kind of company…

  6. Toast on June 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    @Walter

    I would not call her a troll, she’s just mad. Here is a victim of a troll:
    http://xkcd.com/386/

    Thus, Jim is a troll, and we are his victims. As far as Alice goes, I doubt many people will respond to her. Maybe just you. I don’t think she’s much of a troll, if one at all.

  7. Walter on June 16, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Say, Alice Bevan-McGregor, I don’t agree with Jim and he removed two of my posts even, but what’s wrong with you using language like that? There’s no need to insult somebody like that is there? Would you do that face-to-face? It’s an easy cowardly way to write. And then you call HIM a ‘troll of epic proportion’? Jee, look in the mirror… And look at the definition of ‘troll’… I bet you do this on all kind of websites/blogs. Jim might be stubborn etc., but he’s not needlessly insulting. Is your real name Alice even? There’s something going on with you, and it has nothing to do with Jim, you’re just taking it out on him…

  8. Tim on June 16, 2010 at 3:34 am

    @ Jim:

    If you removed all the ads and other rubbish you have around the page, it wouldn’t matter what speed connection the user was on, they would be able to download the page quite fast.

    Of course you won’t actually get a higher number of pages served from your server, which is what you are really concerned about isn’t it – 3x the number of Ads served.

  9. Andy on June 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    In a matter of days Safari has already forced you to create a more readable experience for your users. I’d say it’s doing its job quite nicely.

  10. Alice Bevan-McGregor on June 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    What a hideous website, desperate for the freedom offered by the Reader feature in Safari 5.

    “I’m putting my faith and trust in my readers.

    I’m giving them choices in how they can view my content…

    Please god don’t read more: http://jimlynch.com/…#nasty-url”

    I think in the future I, and likely others, will simply choose not to. I don’t need Geocities-inspired backgrounds, bloated and anti-consumer JavaScript (as demonstrated above when attempting to make a small quote) and idiotic ideas about web design. Let alone pitiful attempts to discourage use of a specific web browser.

    Fix your own website. Design it to be less crap, and people won’t have any reason to use content extractors like Instapaper or Safari Reader, and you won’t lose that advertising revenue. Oh, and JavaScript links (ones that can’t be Command+Clicked to open in a new tab) should be taken out back and shot.

    Jim, you seem to prove over and over again what a clueless, stubbornly opinionated, and misguided person you are throughout these comments. You are a troll of epic proportion. Good day and good riddance; this domain added to my blacklist.

    P.s. I don’t use AdBlock, I use a monstrous /etc/hosts file to filter out advertisements across all applications at the DNS level. It works like a charm, didn’t see a single ad here.

    P.p.s. I’ll up my estimate, after browsing additional replies of yours. You are an unmitigated fuck-wad. I know that harsh language won’t phase you, but it’s amusingly difficult to diagnose exactly what personality problem you suffer from, there seem to be so many that fit the symptoms. You are not amusing, your “sardonic wit” falls on deaf ears, you can’t seem to pull off irony, sarcasm, or that particular breed of sarcasm called facetiousness. You seem incapable of fact-checking or other, oft employed forms of research. You have a terrible design aesthetic, appear to outsiders as a raging money-grabber and click whore. I can only imagine that you sit watching a hit counter increase, content to ignore public opinion about you, rather than writing actually helpful, informative, or thoughtful articles on subjects with more impact than a feature people have been using for years in other products.

    Others have stated my complaints more eloquently, and with fewer personal insults. I’m just hoping to add some pressure to the mix so some of it can get through.

    No ads, used Safari Reader, merely skimmed, and browsed the comments. Referred by Daring Fireball.

    — Alice, mildly curious if this site even supports extended characters in comments.

  11. Josef H on June 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t really see the problem with the Reader. I come to the website, have a look around, then turn on reader, read the article, often even turn off and have another look around. Done.

  12. inteblio on June 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    This problem of “everything is free” is a REAL problem for society and development in the future. Of course, you should have a ‘donate 3p’ button which was a one-click wonder. But – it don’t exist. I think the fundemental lesson the ‘google age’ has taught us is:
    1) people dont want the hassle of paying for things
    2) people will put up with adverts
    3) advertises are keep enough to throw money at it.

    paid for services as an option – for classy readers – is great, but doesn’t seem to work as a standalone option.

    Even wikipedia is struggling…

  13. Damon on June 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Yeah, when your site contains six (6) separate ads that show me close-ups of very ugly mouths, don’t be surprised when your readers click the “Reader” widget at the top of the window to make all that junk go away. I understand that a guy’s gotta make a living, but Jesus, man, show some restraint!

  14. Mark on June 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Perhaps if you and others had made these changes in the first place, Safari would have had no *reason* to create the reader feature in the first place. I’d say their mission has been accomplished. Not that you have subverted their intent. You’ve accomplished it. Readability is their intent. In or out of Safari. I’d argue that Safari was *created* for the mere reason that the web was not usable. Safari is Apple’s way of making the web as usable as a Mac (and now iPad) makes computing usable. No particular care about how that happens.

  15. Michael on June 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    The growing audience using mobile devices will eventually kill the tendency to break up articles and posts. Multi-page articles on a mobile device is a terrible user experience. Even if you offer a view all option, a PDF or some other single page view, you are still requiring a user to execute an extra click to see that view. Considering that AT&T and perhaps the other carriers are getting rid of the unlimited data plans, you are basically asking mobile users to use up some of their limited bandwidth so that you can get more page views and impressions. The end result is that you will lose repeat visitors. And I believe in publishing circles that retention is far more important than page views and ad impressions.

  16. Toast on June 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Why would there need to be an arms race? To use reader you have to load the whole page first. That means all ads are loaded, so all your cost-per-impression ads are still impressing. If you have a reasonable number of ads on your page, people will see them before they click “Reader”. If the ad interests them, they will click it before clicking Reader, so you shouldn’t lose any cost-per-click revenue either…except for ads that you have to scroll down to.

    And if you have so many ads that people are:
    a) clicking reader right away (lots of ads up top), and
    b) not seeing your CPC ads down below (lots of ads down bottom)

    …then perhaps you have too many ads on your site. To you, adding an ad to your page might feel like adding money, but to most readers, you are adding irritants. Your efforts to provide other ways to read your article is nice, but largely unnecessary. As I said before, your ads are still working, even when people use Reader.

  17. Walter on June 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Hi Jim,

    Did you just take off my two last comments?

    There was no hard language in it or anything, so would appreciate a (personal) explanation…

    Thanks,

    Walter

  18. His Shadow on June 15, 2010 at 11:16 am

    “David W.

    So, let me get this straight. People who complain about website clutter and use things like Safari’s Reader are merely part of the cult of Apple “Fan boys”? It’s really getting to be a tired argument.”

    Isn’t it tho? These days, by definition, anyone who prefers Apple products over the competition is “fan boy” because for two decades the meme has been hammered into the web that only Kool-Aid drinking crazies buy Apple products. So the first reaction to anyone who likes/supports/buys Apple is to label them a fan boy. It’s a great way to pretend you’ve defused an argument or countered a POV with out actually thinking about the topic at hand.

  19. His Shadow on June 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

    “Not everybody wants to read one big, long page.”

    That is the most retarded thing I’ve read today. Who are these people? ADHD afflicted? people who love loading a reloading ads? Please.

  20. David W. on June 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

    So, let me get this straight. People who complain about website clutter and use things like Safari’s Reader are merely part of the cult of Apple “Fan boys”? It’s really getting to be a tired argument.

    If Safari reader is a big threat, it really says more about website clutter and hostility towards the readers than Safari and Apple. There’s nothing new about Safari’s built in Reader. I don’t know if it is stealing Readability’s code or not. It certainly is taking a similar tactic (although Readability never was able to put multiple pages together into a single article).

    f you’re reformatted your page to make it less user hostile, then Safari’s built in reader has already done its job. Safari doesn’t automatically put you in Reader mode. The user has to click on the that button. That takes a bit of time and energy. A half decently formatted page is enough to prevent the user from clicking on that Reader button.

    And, you better get use to it too. Google Chrome will be adding a similar feature, and I suspect that Mozilla will start to include Readability as standard part of FireFox. One of the things about browsers is that features found in one are quickly adopted by others.

    And, please tell all of your friends to stop whining about “Apple Fan Boys”. That’s so 1990s. The problem is no longer Apple users whining when someone says something bad about Apple. It’s now the Apple Pan boys who pan anything Apple does. I didn’t like the Apple fan boys whining back then, and I certainly can use do without the pan boys whining now.

  21. Scott on June 15, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Actually, the web protocols were designed *exactly* for the purpose of things like Safari Reader. The point of well-done HTML is that any user agent can display it with the stylesheet defined by the site creator or override the stylesheet with her own — such as a screen reader for the visually impaired or a nice, clean, typographically tasteful rendering for those sensitive to kerning. :biggrin:

  22. Blad_Rnr on June 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Oh, and the stupid Bing pop-ups when I move the mouse over a keyword. What a joke and a distraction. I hate that most of all when visiting a website.

  23. tlmck on June 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

    @ tlmck:

    And BTW, I really like the fact that this Apple related article is sponsored by ads for Microsoft products. :lol:

  24. Blad_Rnr on June 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Jim,
    So you think we want to come to a website where 40% of it is ads? Your website is a train wreck. It’s disorganized, has way too many sections on the right, ads at the top, ads at the bottom, ads in the middle. This is what you really want your readers to see? Your writing and how it is presented should be your reason for existing as a blogger. Take a glance at Daring Fireball. Clean. Easy on the eyes. Your site is like wading through mud try to get to the clams.

    Sorry, I have to side with Apple on this one. Giving people options is not a bad thing. Maybe then bloggers will start catering to the viewers instead of making it all about flashing ads in front of our faces and dicing up the content. Maybe then it will be easier for your readers and they will come back for more. That’s kinda how capitalism works.

  25. Esko on June 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

    On add on the top of your page says: I have won an iPad, another huge app on the right says that I have won an iPhone based on my ip address. What I’m trying to say is that you have no say in what those ads advertise and right now they make you look like a con man. :ninja:

    With Safari reader I don’t have to look at all those idiotic scam adds.

  26. tlmck on June 15, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Personally I have never had a problem with ads per se as I can “tune them out”. What I do object to is that the servers they come from are the slowest in the universe, or the ads themselves are bloatware. For instance, I read all three pages of this article and not one of the pages ever finished loading. It always hung up on this or that ad server. You would think the advertising nimrods would have this figured out after all these years. Of course with an advertising degree and $5 you can get a cup of something at Starbucks.

    If they could fix this so it does not slow down page rendering, I think people would be more accepting of such things.

  27. Eric on June 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

    And good example of a website where we need Safari reader!

  28. Steve Thomas on June 15, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I think all the angst here is misplaced. First, hardly anybody uses Safari, so who cares? Chrome is, IMO, the best browser out there, and is taking market share from Firefox.

    Second, I’ve been using Adblock and Readability extensions for Chrome, both work well, and both are optional. The user gets to choose whether to enable Adblock or not, and Readability has to be selected manually for a page. My point is that with both of these things, *the entire page including the ads is loaded* from your site. Neither affects your web stats in any way. This is purely between the viewer and his browser.

    Some people may be imagining — erroneously — that the ads are not loaded. But they’re there. They’re just hidden from view. Neither the page owner nor the advertisers will know this, and there’s no way for them to know this.

    Finally, ads wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t often so aggressively presented: when you’re trying to read something, it is incredibly distracting to have multi-coloured, animated or (horrors!) flashing ads on the screen. The user’s choice is to either give up trying to read your stuff, or block the ads in some way. Which do you, as author, prefer?

    And I will share that, prior to adblock, I have been known to resize windows so as to blot out the ads, or to use post-it notes on the screen to hide them. If we, the readers, don’t want to see those ads, we’ll find a way.

  29. Walter on June 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Jim, you asked for comments, and when things come that you don’t like you say it’s Apple fanboys writing them. So basically: anyone that likes using Safari Reader is just an Apple fanboy to you…

    I mean: if you’re just defensive, then why ask for comments at all?

    I like Apple myself, don’t like a lot they do too, but I definitely like Safari Reader…

    Can you live with these facts :-) :-)? And stop the victim behaviour? You run a site with a lot of aggressive ads that are in peoples faces way too much. That’s called ‘disrespect’. I’d say: see the truth of that or face the consequences…

  30. GadgetGav on June 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Oooh, nice emoticons…! :alien: :angel: :angry: :blink: :blush: :cheerful: :cool: :cwy: :devil: :dizzy: :ermm: :face: :getlost: :biggrin: :happy: :heart: :kissing: :lol: :ninja: :pinch: :pouty: :sad: :shocked: :sick: :sideways: :silly: :sleeping: :smile: :tongue: :unsure: :w00t: :wassat: :whistle: :wink: :wub:

    That helps readability I’m sure.

  31. GadgetGav on June 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    The difference between Reader in Safari and AdBlock Plus is that Reader loads the whole page *first* then the user hits a button to extract the content. As far as I can tell, that means all your CTM ads get served and you’ll get your money. It also doesn’t breach any site terms because the modification is not taking place *before* the page is displayed. It’s just a glorified cut and paste… Do you want to ban users from using that too?

  32. Hamranhansenhansen on June 15, 2010 at 8:50 am

    If you improved the readability of your website then Safari Reader worked, and users don’t even have it yet.

  33. portorikan on June 15, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I would say if Safari Reader forced you to fix the layout of your site, than it’s effect on the web is already successful as it has forced you ( and other folks) to look at what they/you were doing, to fix what’s wrong and make it better.

    Reader is clearly an excellent utility.

    I do think if advertisers are afraid of this feature, it’s because they realize they may have been doing something wrong, as it relates to the content and information people are interested in.

    Cheers.

  34. Mehdi on June 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Hard for people to understand that nothing comes for free. People write because they need money to live.

    Apple just wants to make web as boring as possible to get people into Apps. First flash and now web ads.

  35. Trevor on June 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Jim wrote:

    Seriously, it’s been a bit of a disappointment to me that much of what I said in this column and the last one never got commented on by some folks. Instead, many of their responses simply attacked the theme I picked for my blog, the ads, etc.
    There is definitely an element of “Apple Fanboy” in some of the folks that have dropped by since the first column about Reader was published. Any time somebody criticizes Apple, the fanboys swarm out of their hive and start stinging.
    Fortunately, there were also some interesting comments posted by others that focused more on the content of my columns than on the design of my site.

    I think most of us commenting on your ads or site design are simply trying to point out that your design is the precise reason that tools like Reader, readability, AdBlock, etc exist. They are meta-comments on your topic.

    Let me reiterate. I don’t mind ads. I have even, upon occasion, found ads on a site that interested me useful. I have, in fact, clicked upon ads, gone to the advertised sites, and purchased items therefrom. I am indeed an advertisers dream. Or I was. These days I either make every effort to ignore the ads, or (at home) I block them. Why? Because when site are designed in such a way that the advertisements interfere with the readability and cohesion of the content, they cease to be ads and become interruptions.

    This, not ads themselves, is the primary cause of the war between browser and add-on designers and web advertisers. Were it not for pop-up ads, pop-under ads, flash ads (which often have malware hidden in them in addition to being annoying), inline parenthetical ads, under-mouse ads (like you have here), page breaks every two paragraphs so you can see more ads, and pages that contain virtually nothing but ads… Were it not for those things I doubt AdBlock would be nearly as popular as it is. It would still have its supporters, sure. Some people just absolutely hate all thing ad related; but the loss of a few hardcore anti-advertising types isn’t going to kill your business.

    Publisher cannot continue to come up with ever more intrusive and banal ways to increase ad impressions then complain that people are blocking their ads.

  36. STL on June 15, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Just wanted you to know I enjoyed reading your childish rant using Safari’s Reader.
    Allowed me to ignore all the BS on your “improved” site.

    Get a clue Jim.
    Really make it readable and people will not use other means to read your words.
    Right now you’ve done virtually nothing to improve your site.

  37. Walter on June 15, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Hi Jim,

    I’m currently preparing a site + blog for myself, hope to make money from it, will be dependent on it for not having to take some uninteresting job, and still: am very happy with the new Safari Reader…

    Are you still watching films on commercial channels? Do you never use a recorder that filters out the commercials?

    You seem to think that you have a some kind of constitutional right to shuff ads through people’s throats. But you haven’t. And I understand your fear of loosing income, but personally I think you have to get real: it’s you as a reader that has the right to decide on how you consume things. I think you’re seeing things upside down, cause you have a financial interest.

    But people who read blogs are not interested in your financial interest. Not shouldn’t they be. If you’re drive is providing content then provide content in a way people like it. If your drive is making money, then don’t be surprised if people resort to a solution like Apple’s.

    Personally, I’d rather take an uninteresting job than trying to force ads on readers. I mean look at what you cater: an ad for instance that seduces people to play darts and win (loose of course) money. Are you proud of that? Do you want it close to your content even? I’m not trying to be sarcastic or funny, I don’t want stuff like that or any ads close to my content. I will have to write interestingly enough to make people want to donate. If that doesn’t work, if I will not make enough money, then I won’t. Then I will take that job. And you know why. Out of respect. Respect for the readers. And respect for my own content.

    It’s only in your mind that you have some sort of right to income from ads. If people vote against it, then they will. You can’t whine about that. You have to get real. And creative :-) Bring out a little ebook with some of your stuff bundled and put it in the iBook store or wherever, and ask people to support you, do whatever, but seriously: don’t play/feel the victim; this browser is wonderful, and no consumer is under the obligation to support you, you’re under the obligation to support yourself. PDF’s and stuff like that just seems like panicking too. Why would I get that if I can push just one button? It’s not only your blog, you know. I read a lot on internet. And I don’t care about some blogger if he/she doesn’t care about me.

    Really: I think you’re thinking upside down…

    Good luck with your blog, really, take care,

    Walter

  38. gintonic on June 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I’m not sure how an innocuous button on a web browser — which isn’t even the most popular web browser — is going to bring an end to civilization as we know it, but you have obviously given this a lot of thought. Just having the option is evidently a crime these days.

    Thanks for the pdf link, btw. Really helped with readability.

  39. David on June 15, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Apple picked up that web users are finding it an unsatisfactory experience to try to read articles on the web because of all the distractions. They added something to their browser to make it easier to read those articles.

    You now (only after Apple made an issue of it) acknowledge that your own web site was an unsatisfactory experience for readers. You have reformatted your web site to make it easier to read articles.

    I can’t help thinking that you have aligned yourself with Apple, and agreed with their observation that many web sites (including your own) are unreadable.

    Why you are abusing them is beyond me.

    And as for your last paragraph, you seem to be saying “Let’s all make our web sites more readable just to get back at Apple”. Billions of Internet users hope that web authors take note of your master plan and that Apple suffers mightily.

  40. Simon O'Doherty on June 15, 2010 at 7:22 am

    At the end of the day it is the consumer. I dictate what gets displayed on my end device. Not the person who makes the device and not the website I look at.

    If you want to block people based on that, fine. It is certainly your choice. If you want to get repeat revenue then you need to the let the consumer choose.

    There are a handful of sites where I have adverts unblocked from Adblock. I visit these sites regularly and occasionally check the adverts.

    Why?
    1. They were not dicks about me blocking adverts. Reddit is a very good example of this. The Escapist is a very bad example of this. They ban users for even mentioning the word adblock, even if those users have it disabled for their site.

    2. If there is a rogue advert they stamp on it and fast. Most sites on the net could care less as long as they are getting the money and it is not uncommon for malware to come via adverts.

    3. They have good content and they don’t spoil it with blatant product placement. For example Digg. The last time I read it is sometime back (well over a year). I left because most articles were adverts disguised, blatant adverts. Add to that they had sponsored adverts disguised as stories, the page plastered with adverts and even the background of the web page as an advert.

    I have been back since to that site. That is one set of eyes lost due to intrusive advertising.

    People don’t come to your site to look at adverts. They come for the content.

  41. william malo on June 15, 2010 at 7:21 am

    sorry for being a little rude but.
    if your website wasn’t cluttered so much, people wouldn’t even want to use reader.
    personally when I see a website like yours I run for the reader.

  42. Martin on June 15, 2010 at 6:54 am

    “The web was never meant to provide a reading experience similar to an ebook or print book.”

    Yes it was. You must be new to the web (guessing late 1990′s). Ftp, newsgroups, email, IRC, gopherspace or MSN was never meant to provide a reading experience similar to an ebook or print book. The web (http/html) was invented EXACTLY to give a reading experience similar to an (ebook or) print book, only better.

    The web was a one trick pony and also not meant to be a channel for ads or commerse, playing music or video, as the corner stone of your social life, or to be running applications on. It was meant only as channel for easy interchange of written (scientific) information in a book-like form (there were already newsgroups, IRC and email providing means to more social interaction on Internet). Microsoft Network on the other hand WAS made to deliver exactly those things (passive media consumption, ads and commerse), and only those things. Microsoft Networks is dead because everybody hated it.

    Good and bad, the web is used to do many things different from its original purpose, but that doesn’t give anybody the right to deny or take away its original purpose.

  43. mat on June 15, 2010 at 6:44 am

    “…and his evil empire”?!?

    Blimey.

  44. HannesH on June 15, 2010 at 6:13 am

    First of all, your article is Full of misleading, plain wrong assumptions and information. Apple is not trying to “enforce” any new “ebook-like” style for the web – Reader is an option, not a necessity that users cannot escape or are confronted with, it has to be willingly activated by user action. It’s also wrong that it is against any rules that forbid using content before ads are displayed – that’s exactly what Reader does NOT do because the page (and the ads) have to be fully loaded before Reader can be used.

    And well…Safari and Apple just had you change your website to make it more readable and enjoyable for your visitors (though it’s still way to overloaded). You’re encouraging others to do the same. Basically they just made your website (and in a few months we might be able to say the web) a better place. Way to lose, Safari. I’d count that as a win for Apple actually. It’s not all about market share and numbers – well, for some it might be. But apple more than most of it competitors cares about user experience. That’s what they achieved here. Way to lose, Safari.

    I’d just say that it’s embarrassing that it needs a feature such as safari reader for you and other (dare I say ignorant?) to realize how badly designed their pages are and that they need to change something to make it more enjoyable for the users.
    I’d actually say that’s worse than apple because it’s simply motivated out of the fear that money might be ‘lost’ because of the (wrong, see above) assumption that those ugly ads might not appear or be noticed or whatever. That’s at least as bad as Safari trying to get more market
    share with the “bad”, “devilish”, “disastrous” and “unlawful” Reader (though I do not think that’s apples sole motivation as I noted above).

    *waitingToBeDenouncedAsAnAppleFanboi*

  45. DOGS on June 15, 2010 at 5:42 am

    “All the websites I went to yesterday where Reader merged multi-page articles into one now resist Reader by only allowing it to show the first page. This is worse than useless as Reader now only works on the first page!”

    The website loses because if reader doesn’t work then I’ll just close the site and not bother reading on. I find the content on those sort of websites is terrible anyway, bit like the terrible writing on this failed abortion of a blog.

  46. Hank Heathen on June 15, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Dude – you’ve got an animated friggin’ GIF banner spanning almost the entire width of your homepage, advising me that I’ve been selected to maybe win a TV.

    Seriously?

    It’s sites like yours that are the reason that browser features like this exist.

    Hank

  47. DOGS on June 15, 2010 at 5:19 am

    @ Jim:

    “Anti-scrollers” are an absolute myth, you only have multiple pages to increase your ad impressions.

    By the way I could only stomach this article because I block all adverts and used Safari Reader to bypass your multipage bullshit

  48. Per on June 15, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Your website is a good example why the Reader feature in Safari 5 is such a welcome addition. If most websites were made by people who actually care about the reader experience, additions like these would not exist.

  49. Douglas on June 15, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Oops, I skipped the article and went straight to the comment box. 8 ads on one page? And you think I’m going to look at three pages? This site would be so much better in Safari Reader, I guess. Is the content worth reading though, that’s the question.

  50. Carniphage on June 15, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Dear Jim.

    Thank you for your review of the new Safari.
    I did not realise it had this Reader feature – which Google Chrome lacks.

    It dramatically improves my enjoyment of many websites which are little more than a cluttered mess of advertising which offers no value to me, the reader.

    So once again..Thanks so much for bringing this brilliant development to my attention!

    Yours.

    C.

  51. Matthias on June 15, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Not trying to flame you or anything – but your blog still makes me want to use Safari Reader.
    There is way too much useless clutter. I have never felt the urge to use Reader on sites like Daring Fireball or Wikipedia – because they are eminently readable.

    In good design form should function – certainly not restrict it. In the same way, layout is a means to present your content more effectively. If you write prose-style, readers are right to prefer it to be as readable as prose.

  52. Lucian Marin on June 15, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I have a better alternative to Safari Reader; it’s called Amatl and it’s document format based on HTML5. You can simply publish your article in Amatl format, include a link in your blog post and people will have a pleasing way to read your article too. They could also save the document on their hard drives, print it or mail it as an attachment.

    Check it out at http://lucianmarin.com/amatl/

  53. Jeremy Chappell on June 15, 2010 at 4:08 am

    I think you’ve totally lost the plot. When websites do battle with the very tools users have chosen to use, you will find those websites will lose. You’re forgetting web surfers who CHOOSE Safari, and then deploy the “reader” mode have chosen to see your site through that lens. A better response is probably to think “Why have my readers chosen to do that? How can I make their experience better, given this new information?” rather than “I must defeat their tool!”

    Go and have a little think about what message you’re sending readers by not respecting their choices. You’d also do well to not make stupid statements that are clearly unsupported by the facts. Safari is not a slow browser, at the current time Google Chrome might have the edge, but you’re talking about the two fastest browsers out there. You might be better to look at what Safari is doing, and work with it – rather than against it. Maybe use of HTML5, you can do some pretty nice things – and where Safari goes today, your favourite browser (Google Chrome) will go tomorrow, as they are both based on WebKit. Additionally Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 will also leverage HTML5 (Microsoft have some great demos of HTML5).

  54. Jose on June 15, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Readibility is always welcome, but your reasons for arriving to your conclusion are confused.

    You sound as though you can’t bring yourself to admitting that Apple did your readers a big favor.

  55. Charles on June 15, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Readability isn’t about adding more choices, it’s about making it readable by default. A long review like you have at DPReview pages make sense (although I think they should cut it down by at least half) Your article isn’t long enough to justify even two pages. If people think it’s too long they can just stop at any time. Splitting an article into pages doesn’t fix that problem.

    You’ve got way too many ads. Flashy ads at the top of your screen, on the right side. Surveys, top posts, more tabs. It’s distracting. You have both page numbers and a drop down menu. Ideally you shouldn’t have either, but you don’t need both. You’ve got annoying buttons to share the article down below, about a 1/3rd of which don’t render properly on my machine which make it look worse. All the icons too other services aren’t needed. PDF is a hack as others have said. The print link should be at the top, although your print page isn’t very readable either.

    Seriously though, that ad on top has got to go.

  56. El Lizardo on June 15, 2010 at 2:35 am

    John Gruber pretty much sums this up:

    “Safari Reader doesn’t kick in by default. It’s invoked by the user. Apple isn’t telling Jim Lynch his site is ugly and hard to read. His readers are. If your website is user-hostile, don’t be surprised when your readers fight back.”

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/06/14/safari-reader-lynch

  57. John M on June 15, 2010 at 2:19 am

    The comments aren’t consolidated by Reader. Too bad. It’d find that you don’t have much support for you point of view, and that you have overrated your comments. Your ungainly site with its multiple meaningless ads is an embarrassment to people who want to communicate (I’m not talking FaceBook). Give it a rest. See how many more hits you’ll receive if you convert your site to plain text.

  58. Nick Heer on June 15, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I must say, I’m glad I can view this blog post in Safari reader, with the myriad of ads, tiled background image, emoticons and Trebuchet MS. Reader strips away that garbage leaving me with the blog post in Georgia (though I have fixed Reader’s weird justified text — if you want to complain about Safari Reader, that’s a more legit argument).

  59. anthony on June 15, 2010 at 2:02 am

    It’s not about Apple vs. the publishers of obnoxious, manipulative web sites.

    It’s about the CUSTOMERS, and their wanting to be free of the constant bombardment by more and more garbage in life. Maybe if everything in our lives weren’t a billboard, championing some inane product or service or whatever 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we’d be a bit more tolerant. But, as it is, we just want to be free of some of this drivel and manipulation that writers have created.

    It’s as simple as that.

  60. Tom Dibble on June 15, 2010 at 1:28 am

    How many of these steps did you take prior to Reader?

    Importantly, as a Safari user, why would I hunt down your PDF link rather than click the Reader link which is always in the same place? It still takes a conscious act on the part of the reader to, unable to read your article for all the distractions, click the button for an uncluttered view (which is of course in contrast to the ad blocker extensions which, once installed, are always on, and they tend to be installed on anyone’s computer who has a geek son-in-law to do it for them). I don’t see how this could possibly be “war” since, as you point out, it’s not even a new idea.

    As for the annoying double-underline ads … they are annoying in black as well as in green. Just as distracting, because double-underlines have meaning (severe emphasis) and severe emphasis for a hardly-related-ever ad is undue. Thankfully, there’s a Safari extension to turn them off (and a Chrome extension, and a Firefox extension, and if I had to use IE for casual browsing I’d throw it in the hosts file too).

    If people really do prefer broken up articles, it seems like Safari’s Reader button won’t get much use, so why would you be upset? On the other hand, I haven’t come across one of those mythical no-scrolling folks either, and find that whole line of argument unconvincing when even your shorter pages require a bit of scrolling from top to bottom.

  61. James Killen on June 15, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Jim,

    I’m a little unclear as to what the basis for any lawsuits would be, at least from the publisher’s point of view.

    So long as the browser only caches the data (for which an exception exists for all TRIPS signatories), it would seem difficult to frame this situation as copyright action. Nor is the content being reframed to suggest another source, so an action in passing off wouldn’t seem to stand. The “conditions” of using a site, being a free-to-air publicly viewable site, are surely not conditions in the legal sense. You are transmitting html data which a browser, or any other html reading application, is free to use as it wants, or?

    Sure, the publisher can take technological steps to ban certain applications from accessing the data, (subject to various international access rights, eg. disability legislation). But isn’t banning a browser or platform (eg. iPad) outright a little self-defeating. I agree an arms race will develop, but I think publishers will need to be a bit cleverer in how they defeat ad-blockers.

    Finally, I have to take issue with your statement that “[t]he web was never meant to provide a reading experience similar to an ebook.” If you cast your mind back to the late 80s as we moved from gopher to http, I think you’ll find that’s precisely what the web was designed to provide. Or at least provide a better experience for reading academic papers. Of course the web has developed far beyond what it was originally meant to provide, and again the attempts to undermine advertising, annoying though it can be, are a real threat to much of the value we derive from it.

  62. Maurice on June 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I only click on ads for ironic or funny t-shirts modeled those cute chicks. I click because, Goddamn! I love me some boobies.

  63. r on June 15, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Ads & writing? *Shrug* I see a whole lot of cartoons and double, triple quadruple borders and boxes on this page. AH! just spotted- one of the WORDS in the above article even has its own popup advertisement! I didn’t have JavaScript Blacklist installed on this machine. All better, now.
    :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face: :face:

  64. Carl Sandrock on June 15, 2010 at 12:52 am

    The most interesting thing in this whole argument is the tacit assumption that the web is “supposed” to be full of colours and weird layouts… and ads. If you want to talk about the web never being meant to be read like an e-book, you open the door to the argument that the web was never “meant” to display ads. Its original design was to help scientific researchers share scientific knowledge. Now that doesn’t mean we should restrict the web’s use to science, just that we should admit that the web has grown far beyond anything that was originally imagined and it’s moot to talk about what it’s “meant” to be at all. If I choose to read a page without pictures or ads in a text-mode browser, I believe that’s my right. You’ve got to ask yourself why the reader is getting such great feedback from users, who really enjoy reading the content of a webpage in a legible format. How many people are saying “reader is great, but I would really like to see some ads in there”. If anything, the fight is not new — users want content, no-one really wants to watch ads. There are some minor arguments about business model, but there is a lot of free content on the web, and it is clear that most users are not really willing to pay by actually viewing ads. This goes for TV as well — give a user the option of blocking ads and they will do it without thinking twice. So, there is no mystery here, other than why the ad guys keep playing the victim.

  65. Nathan Duran on June 15, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Is saying you’re a “community manager” the way you tell other grown adults “I moderate some shitty internet forum full of teenagers” without being embarrassed?

  66. Mike on June 15, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Oh please. Seriously? Arms race? Apple didn’t start the clutter-free browsing trend. Instapaper was doing it before Apple, and I was doing it before the both of them by browsing with Click2Flash and AdFree.

    At least in the case of both Safari and Instapaper, the reader must click to activate the clutter-free mode. Be glad more of your viewers aren’t saavy enough to install Click2Flash & other ad-blockers on their machines – otherwise your ad revenue would drop very, very quickly.

    I don’t mind ads that are useful, and appropriate/related to the content I’m reading. Disabling adblock and looking to the right of this page, I see an ad for teeth whitening (nice yellow teeth pic btw!), an extremely unrealistic weight-loss ad, and a silly color-blindness test that was interesting when I first saw it in 1998.

    Tell me, who *wouldn’t* want to block/ignore that crap?

  67. Reader on June 15, 2010 at 12:42 am

    It’s interesting that as one company provides its users a choice or option (within their FREE cross-platform software) others try to take that choice away.

    Is it wrong to turn the volume down on a tv (not mute) and look away from the television during commercials?

    Is the mute button killing tv commercials?

  68. John M on June 15, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Jim, I think you’ve received far more attention than you deserve – and for having an ugly, overly-busy site that relies on excessive advertising to maximize every square inch of screen space. You’re the poster-child for bad design and egregious advertising. And having your comic mug multiplied dozens of time in the borders only gives truth to any detractors who see you as an egoist and self-serving blogger. Sorry that Daringfireball took the bait – you really don’t deserve to be mentioned as a rational alternative. You make a weak argument criticizing Reader, and defend only with your self-serving arguments about losing ad revenues (which, paradoxically, have increased for you because you criticized Reader). Ouch!

  69. r on June 15, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Hey. Why do you have that caricature repeated a couple dozen times around your content area? What does it signify? What message are you sending by displaying this repeating pattern? I’m confused.

  70. Justin on June 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Jim–

    I think your anger towards Apple is totally mis-directed. It sounds like your real problem is your readers who want to bypass all the garbage to get to the content. Can you imagine, those ingrates! This whole money-making endeavor would be so much easier without them.

    My favorite part about all this, though, is that the “Pluck” on-demand business below the article gives your readers informative links to how to block ads. The irony of ironies here.

  71. giz on June 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I agree with Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball http://daringfireball.net – Apple isn’t telling the author his site is fugly. His readers are. This one included.

  72. Chris P. on June 15, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Jim even with John’s well designed non wordpress site I would still use tools like Reader. Much easier on the eyes. The thing is his website can be minimalistic with only one ad in the sidebar. Not just because of his design preference but because he’s a damn good writer and really thinks things through before he publishes. There’s a reason why brands come to him to sponsor his efforts. And instead of throwing them a header ad he puts it in the content of his site where any ad blocker would never block it. And if you want no sponsored posts then pony up for a membership and get access to the paid only feed. Frakin’ genius.

    @ Jim:

  73. Jeremy on June 15, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Yes, Reader is the start of an arms race but NOT between publishers and browser makers. Its an arms race between content creators and content consumers. While the validity of your claim that some people want sites broken up into many pages is shaky at best, you’re missing the point that having this type of ad revenue isn’t sustainable.

    The major reason that this sort of ad revenue exists is because most content creators think its not their job to get the advertisers to WANT to advertise on your site. Your advertisers have no idea what your site is and does. You’re a number to them that google or your ad agency spits back to them.

    Sites like Daring Fireball have in stream ads from companies that either John knows, has used, or can and does sincerely recommend. Very few, if any, readers complain about his ads. I, for one, look foreword to them. I’ve found many interesting products from reading them that I’ve bought.

    However, I have never clicked a google adword, banner, or other flash ad and paid for anything. Most times, I don’t even see them as I’ve grown accustomed to just skipping right over any of that blue/grey text.

    Now I’m sure John spends quite a bit of time finding sponsors for his site and checking to see if the product is something he wants to get behind. But he’s not the only one that does this. Leo Laporte has been doing this for years with his entire network. And guess what, I’ve bought products he’s recommended through ads as well. While both may have some dry spots when getting quality advertisers was hard, they both made it through and now seem to have a rather steady flow of revenue because their advertisers have seen the benefit of having a spokesperson/endorsement over just a google adword buy.

    I know these sites are expensive to keep running and its even harder if you’re trying to live off the revenues from it. I just don’t believe that’s an excuse to promote horrible design behavior and assault your readers with ads. Mostly, because there is quite a bit of proof out there that it doesn’t have to be this way.

  74. Joseph on June 15, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Safari doesn’t do anything on its own. The user needs to press the ‘reader’ button, and only then is a long article displayed with text only in an easy to read format. If people want to use it, they can. But nobody is forcing them to press the button. And ALL visitors to your site still see your ads when they land on your site, and then again when they close the reader view. Given that, it’s not clear what you’re complaining about. Why does it bother you that some might prefer to read a long article on a simple readable page? (And no, opening up a PDF is not a good alternative.)

  75. Aaron on June 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Lastly,

    “I’m sure it took him hours to come up with that cutting edge, minimalist design.”

    Don’t play with the big dogs if you’re going to pee like a poodle.

    Cheers.

  76. butterworm on June 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    not sure where you’re getting this ‘safari isn’t important’ line from, exactly.

    people are free to use whatever web browser they want, and that’s fine. safari, chrome, and all current mobile web browsers with any significant use (not just safari on iOS) use webkit, which is an open source engine, developed primarily by apple.

    currently, the only web browsers that pass the acid3 test are webkit based browsers, and opera. firefox does not. acid3 tests a variety of web standards, and performance in certain technologies, such as javascript.

    safari may not hold the top spot in terms of installed user base (i don’t know if it does or not, and honestly could not care less), but dismissing it as irrelevant and unimportant is simply shortsighted when it is currently the best browser available today in terms of performance.

    your claims about firefox are misguided. i’m not saying you shouldn’t use firefox, and i’m not dismissing firefox as unimportant. your position on the relevance of safari seems to suggest that you aren’t aware that firefox is no longer the beacon of web standards that it once was. it’s a little long in the tooth now.

    the introduction of the reader functionality in safari is an attempt by apple to make the web more fun (remember that? fun?) for the people who use it, the same people who are reading your site. this is achieved by presenting a large, easily readable font, sans distractions; emulating a format most people are familiar with – newspaper columns.

    this is a far more pleasurable reading experience, because you don’t feel like the article is attacking you as you read it.

    your readers are not here to satisfy you. forget this at your peril. invasive ads and multi-page articles are two things that most readers find unpleasant. you may well enjoy them, good for you. some people enjoy death metal. more power to them. safari reader has emerged because publishers are placing their own needs above the needs of their consumers (nb, your consumers and your customers are two different sets of people). the only ‘arms race’ that exists is between you and your readers. advertisements and pagination are your weapons, safari-reader-type-technologies, web scrapers, ebook readers and the like are ours. if you pull out a big enough gun, eventually you’ll scare your readers away completely. if you try and disable our weapons, why are you so upset when we try and disable yours?

    before you dismiss me as a ‘fanboy’ so that you don’t have to pay any attention in the slightest to anything that i’ve said, know this:
    -i haven’t attacked you personally
    -i haven’t behaved irrationally or unreasonably
    -i’m not frothing at the mouth
    -i haven’t mentioned which web browser i use on a day to day basis or why i use it

  77. Aaron on June 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I used reader on this article and found it 10 times more enjoyable without the sweet matrix banners and emoticons (with fringing borders).

    “They’re all entitled to their opinions but I hope they’ll understand if I disagree with their sentiment.

    Goes without saying. This entry wouldn’t be here otherwise.

  78. Safari User on June 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    While I have not yet tried Reader, I do block flash with ClickToFlash–most of your ads do not show in my Safari browser. Because of this threat to your revenue, I request and encourage you to block all Safari users, including me. I hope to never accidentally read your site again should I stumble upon it.

    Many thanks in anticipation of your assistance in this matter.

  79. Marco on June 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Your website is actually pretty cool, Jim. I like how it isn’t pretentious, unlike certain other sites. It’s laid back, fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Keep up the good work.

  80. jack on June 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    First time I’ve ever been here, and last, but your site is awful. Read daringfireball. Looks like being a tech analyst basically means nothing when anyone can make the claim.

  81. Tim Jeffries on June 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    The reason most commenters have mentioned the style of your site and (especially) the ads is surely that they are inextricably linked to the reader function – if there weren’t so many adverts and social networking plugins cluttering the site up, there’d be no need for it.

    And when a previous commenter referred to Safari as the new Firefox, he was highlighting the new extensions that are available, and can help provide a better browsing experience. A case in point – having installed the JavaScript Blacklist extension, I haven’t seen any of the text-mouseover adverts that others have been complaining about.

    If you don’t think people should use Reader, don’t blame Apple for introducing a useful feature – instead, design your website so it won’t be necessary.

  82. Mark S. on June 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    It’s not just Apple. I was logged into my Yahoo account via my AT&T internet service and they now offer a reader as well. Apparently Apple isn’t flying solo afterall.

  83. Rob on June 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    It’s my impression that the “reader” option in Safari 5 is only activated once the page is done loading, correct? In other words, all your ads load first, then someone can go into “reader view”. Which means you aren’t losing any ad impressions due to the “reader view”. So not sure why you think Safari’s “reader view” will be a negative for your websites ad impressions.

  84. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Hi Ernie,

    Yes, I just noticed the link from his site. Welcome to my blog.

    I guess I’ll have to part company with him on what constitutes an acceptable design for a wordpress blog theme. Maybe someday I’ll be as cool as John, and I’ll have white text on a grey background. I’m sure it took him hours to come up with that cutting edge, minimalist design.

    :wink:

    Seriously, it’s been a bit of a disappointment to me that much of what I said in this column and the last one never got commented on by some folks. Instead, many of their responses simply attacked the theme I picked for my blog, the ads, etc.

    There is definitely an element of “Apple Fanboy” in some of the folks that have dropped by since the first column about Reader was published. Any time somebody criticizes Apple, the fanboys swarm out of their hive and start stinging.

    Fortunately, there were also some interesting comments posted by others that focused more on the content of my columns than on the design of my site.

    I expect there will be an influx of people from John’s blog telling me how my site sucks, calling me names, and all the usual stuff. They’re all entitled to their opinions but I hope they’ll understand if I disagree with their sentiment.

    :whistle:

    ernie wrote:

    John Gruber ripped you a new one.

  85. ernie on June 14, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    John Gruber ripped you a new one.

  86. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Yes, I’m a well known lover of “$MSFT” and it’s so cutting edge of you to use that acronym. It really gives your post an aura of credibility that impresses me.

    :wink:

    Daring Fireball is an interesting site. But that model is very difficult for most sites to use. DF is part of an elite, invitation-only ad network. Not everyone can be a part of the Deck. It would certainly be nice to be able to run one ad rather than needing to run more than one though.

    Also, I disagree with you that Safari is the “new firefox.” Safari is doing well in the mobile space because of the iPhone/iPad/iPod products. But it still lags behind FIrefox significantly, while Chrome is quickly becoming the browser to beat on a number of levels. I doubt Reader will somehow propel Safari to the top of the heap.

    Drunken Economist wrote:

    Ye Ghods the lack of clue in this post. Either that or you need to drop the ‘intellectual honesty’ references because we’ve seen this movie before, only $MSFT was doing the complaining, mostly about Firefox.

    Basically your page is modelled like Windows: you only want to give the user LESS clutter and chaos than he had before. How very $MSFT, because that’s how their model for moneymaking is too. Drive the user to the edge of frustration to get your content, and then offer droppings or bones as a consolation prize. No wonder a paltry browser extension (and not a unique one) is giving you pain.

    Here’s a Hint: The closer to Instapaper that your page becomes, with the ads at the bottom (highest paying advertiser prominent) the better you’ll be. We don’t want chaos, we want POLISH. Daringfireball. Less is more.

    If not, well, for us readers there’s Instapaper, host blocking, and the inevitable ‘pseudo eBook with multi-format’ Safari extension I’m working on. As are others.

    Which brings me to what this is really about: You shouldn’t worry about Safari’s reader extension. You should worry that, due to its new sandboxed plugin architecture, Safari is the new Firefox and that you (and other cluttered sites) are now going to be scraped en masse.

    -Drunken Economist
    http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/drunk_economist

  87. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks, Harlan. Perhaps they are just bugs? I doubt the Weekly Standard would really be paying attention enough to the Safari Reader story to deliberately sabotage it. Though I could be wrong.

    It will be interesting to see if prominent publishers try to do something about it though. Maybe if/when it is cloned into Firefox or Chrome.

    Harlan Leyside wrote:

    sorry for delay replying, regarding sites that frustrated Reader:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/node/476764

    typified my experience

    another:

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/64495,people,news,piers-morgan-to-replace-cnn-veteran-larry-king-britains-got-talent?DCMP=NLC-daily

    Reader worked for page one but not for page two

  88. Drunken Economist on June 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Ye Ghods the lack of clue in this post. Either that or you need to drop the ‘intellectual honesty’ references because we’ve seen this movie before, only $MSFT was doing the complaining, mostly about Firefox.

    Basically your page is modelled like Windows: you only want to give the user LESS clutter and chaos than he had before. How very $MSFT, because that’s how their model for moneymaking is too. Drive the user to the edge of frustration to get your content, and then offer droppings or bones as a consolation prize. No wonder a paltry browser extension (and not a unique one) is giving you pain.

    Here’s a Hint: The closer to Instapaper that your page becomes, with the ads at the bottom (highest paying advertiser prominent) the better you’ll be. We don’t want chaos, we want POLISH. Daringfireball. Less is more.

    If not, well, for us readers there’s Instapaper, host blocking, and the inevitable ‘pseudo eBook with multi-format’ Safari extension I’m working on. As are others.

    Which brings me to what this is really about: You shouldn’t worry about Safari’s reader extension. You should worry that, due to its new sandboxed plugin architecture, Safari is the new Firefox and that you (and other cluttered sites) are now going to be scraped en masse.

    -Drunken Economist
    http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/drunk_economist

  89. Harlan Leyside on June 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    sorry for delay replying, regarding sites that frustrated Reader:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/node/476764

    typified my experience

    another:

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/64495,people,news,piers-morgan-to-replace-cnn-veteran-larry-king-britains-got-talent?DCMP=NLC-daily

    Reader worked for page one but not for page two

  90. Rich on June 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Simply: saying reader is Apple trying to force an ebook style reader on the web is hyperbole considering Safari’s market share with Safari. I’ve been using it because it puts content into larger easier to read format, which is nice so I can lean back, relax and enjoy reading rather than fiddling with font size each page I view.

  91. Doug on June 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Reader can also make for a better experience. One of my pet peeves are those inline ads, like Vibrant. Since my mouse pointer tends to move around a lot on page, particularly while I position the mouse over content I want to mouse-wheel scroll, I end up activating those types of ads all the time. All they do is cover up the text I’m trying to read.

    It’s the same level of frustration of when I’m trying to watch a television show and the network decides to appropriate nearly a third of the screen to advertise something mid-program. It’s behavior like that drives me to seek out other sources of the media that aren’t so corrupted.

  92. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Gareth,

    I like reading on my iPad/Kindle because I have a limited amount of space to store paper books. These devices are a god-send for folks like me who are addicted to reading but really cannot keep a huge mass of paper books.

    I used to have tons of paper books, stored in boxes and anywhere I could cram them. But now I can keep my collection on my devices and I don’t have to deal with the storage issues.

    I am also an impulse reader. So being able to download samples of books is absolutely fantastic. It gives me a chance to sample many books and see if I like it before I add it to my collection.

    I don’t find that I have a problem reading before bed using the Amazon Kindle application. I make the text off-white with a black background, and that seems to make it easier on the eyes when reading in a dark room. Try it sometime if you have an iPad.

    gareth thomas wrote:

    An interesting post but saying “Ebooks can be a wonderfully relaxing reading experience. I love to kick at night and read a book on my iPad. It helps me mellow out and relax after a long day”
    sorry but you can do exactly the same thing with a proper book, and some might say reading on an iPad with a display that beams light into your eyes can be causing a lot of problems including interrupting your sleep patterns (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/04/ipad-kindle-ebook-sleep.html)
    So what’s so special about reading it on a device like this? Personally I spend SO much of my day in front of a screen its nice to not use one and read the paper/wired magazine or a book the “old fashioned” way.

  93. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Steviant,

    It’s not just Safari, it’s what will happen if (when) the feature is cloned to other browsers. It’s really a harbinger of things to come. Safari itself will probably never be more than an also-ran browser on the desktop. Chrome and Firefox are both much more important than Safari, so it will be interesting to see if either of them adds something like this directly into the browser.

    steviant wrote:

    Don’t worry Chicken-Little, Opera has had ad blocking built in for a couple of years now, has a similar market share to Safari and hasn’t caused the sky to fall yet.
    If it makes you feel better I’ve been blocking ads and reflowing pages for quite a while without the need for extensions using Opera Mobile. I really think you’re giving Safari far too much credit.

  94. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Harlan,

    Which sites were you visiting? It would be interesting to know what, if anything, they are doing to block it. Post back if you find out any details. Thanks!

    Harlan Leyside wrote:

    After only one day, it seems Safari Reader has been wounded. All the websites I went to yesterday where Reader merged multi-page articles into one now resist Reader by only allowing it to show the first page. This is worse than useless as Reader now only works on the first page!
    So in one day Reader is fucked!
    Jobs had based up bigtime this time!

  95. nobody on June 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    This is the appropriate way to respond. It’s simple. If publishers don’t piss off their readers to the point where they feel the need to use this software (or adblock plus) then they won’t lose ad revenue.

  96. Doug on June 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    So, in a nutshell, you’re wrong when you say “by adding Reader to Safari 5, is essentially trying to force an ebook style interface onto the web reading experience.” It’s not forcing anything on anybody, since you have to choose to use it, and make the effort of clicking the Reader button to do so.

  97. Penguintopia on June 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    The web most certainly WAS designed for “quiet reading!!!” HTML is a *text* markup language. It’s been modified to be a presentation language, but I still remember creating the first pages with pure text, since that’s all you could do.

    Since you’re starting from a false premise, the rest of the argument is seriously weakened.

  98. Harlan Leyside on June 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    After only one day, it seems Safari Reader has been wounded. All the websites I went to yesterday where Reader merged multi-page articles into one now resist Reader by only allowing it to show the first page. This is worse than useless as Reader now only works on the first page!
    So in one day Reader is fucked!
    Jobs had based up bigtime this time!

  99. Chris Meadows on June 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    You ought to make your “View All” link a bit more obvious. I only saw the “1 2 3″ page links, didn’t investigate the dropdown, and was subsequently annoyed at having to view each page separately (until I got to page 3 and found out about the dropdown). Having “1 2 3 View All” links would work better.

  100. Brendan on June 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve never thought about Readability as a way to block ads (that’s what’s AdBlock is for). I use Readability because sometimes I just want to read and don’t care about someone’s flashy CSS and tiny sans-serif text. Of course, I don’t see the point unless the page is fairly long..

  101. steviant on June 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Don’t worry Chicken-Little, Opera has had ad blocking built in for a couple of years now, has a similar market share to Safari and hasn’t caused the sky to fall yet.

    If it makes you feel better I’ve been blocking ads and reflowing pages for quite a while without the need for extensions using Opera Mobile. I really think you’re giving Safari far too much credit.

  102. Cedric on June 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Out of curiosity, I just turned off AdBlock and… wow wow wow.

    Seven different banners at the top, right and bottom, and worst of all, the under-mouse window that just keeps getting in the way of whatever I’m trying to read.

    The signal/noise ratio is close to nonexistent at this point.

  103. Cedric on June 14, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    My experience completely matches Trevor’s. First of all, I use AdBlock so I wasn’t aware there was any ad on this page until Trevor mentioned it. Second, he says there are under-mouse popups? Wow, I would certainly have been more aggressive in my comments if I had known about this.

    Third, I also never bothered reading parts 2 and 3. It will take an exceptionally interesting article for me to bother going through a multipart article, and blog posts usually never qualify.

    So I read part 1 and then switched to the comments.

    And the head-everywhere background… is this you, Jim? Seriously, there are some serious ego-maniacal issues at play here…

  104. gareth thomas on June 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    An interesting post but saying “Ebooks can be a wonderfully relaxing reading experience. I love to kick at night and read a book on my iPad. It helps me mellow out and relax after a long day”

    sorry but you can do exactly the same thing with a proper book, and some might say reading on an iPad with a display that beams light into your eyes can be causing a lot of problems including interrupting your sleep patterns (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/04/ipad-kindle-ebook-sleep.html)

    So what’s so special about reading it on a device like this? Personally I spend SO much of my day in front of a screen its nice to not use one and read the paper/wired magazine or a book the “old fashioned” way.

  105. Trevor on June 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I don’t, in general, disagree with you that web based content must pay for itself and that advertising is a good way to do this. On the other had, I cannot help but feel that publishers have brought this upon themselves. Your site, for instance, at first glance seems quite reasonable in your use of advertising. Four small Google Adsense ads at the top and a couple at the bottom, with a reasonable amount of content on each page.

    Then the “Vibrant” contextual ads start up. This article wasn’t too bad, but when I clicked the link to your earlier article I found that I had to place my mouse very carefully or I simply could not read what you’d written. Eventually I was forced to simply move my mouse completely outside the browser window in order to avoid accidentally hovering anywhere near one of the context sensitive words that would cover all nearby text with a huge pop-up ad. Let me make that clear. I was unable to read your content at all, unless I closed a huge pop-up which sprung from my mouse anytime I moved it toward certain words, or those words scrolled by its current location.

    Quite frankly I only read the first page of that article, because I didn’t think your opinions interesting enough to be worth the bother. Which isn’t meant to slight the value of your opinions, but rather to slight this incredibly irritating ads format you’ve chosen. Similarly, sites with large flashing animated ads, page breaks every five sentences, inline parenthetical adverts, etc, etc make it extremely difficult to consume the content they claim to be offering.

    Publishers, by choosing increasingly intrusive and distracting ad formats have put me in position where I feel I have to block ads. Reasonably sized advertisements, at the top or bottom of the page or on the margins, in static text or graphics (even colorful graphics) are fine. I can feel free to look at them (I often do) or ignore them, and they don’t affect my ability to read or comprehend the information I came to read.

  106. Daniel Lohin on June 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Here is something that I wrote a while ago and I feel that it pertains to this situation. A lot of people are now blocking ads because they are dangerous. I could care less about an ad that doesn’t distract me too much, I do care when the ad drops malware. At work we block all ads at the gateway. Not because I have a hatred for ads, but because we were responding to way more incidents that were traced back to ads then you can imagine. Right not the AD networks have no accountability and the advertisers can put what ever they want. It is time for the ad agencies to begin to step up and start protecting the viewers of the ads through better means. Until this happens, I am going to do my best to block ads and I suspect many will do the same.

    Here is the link from what I wrote a while back: http://www.dremspider.net/?p=41

  107. Mouring on June 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I rarely read past the first or second “page” of a web article. Most of the time they are broken up haphazardly with no contextual breaks. The worse fail to follow the standard pyramid formula taught (at least when I went to school) to every journalist. So after a page or two with no real direction I give up.

    Sites like Tom’s Hardware does multi-page in a more tolerable way. You can truly skip content you have no interest in to get to the meat of what you want.

    One has to wonder how many others are like me?

  108. Andrew on June 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “I fear you’re still not getting it. Is using Reader really any different than TV watchers using DVR to fast forward through the commercials? ”

    In fact, it’s hugely different. The equivalent in a television would be if your show was always wrapped in those distracting non-stop scrolling info blasts they use on 24-hour news channels. Readability and Reader allow me to filter out those things that make it difficult at times to focus on the content.

    There was a very poorly written opinion piece at Smashing Magazine on this topic. I hadn’t seen their site in ages as I subscribe to their RSS, so I went over there to check it out. The text is tiny, and surrounded by big, bright animated gif ads (I use clickToFlash.) The division between text area and add area is at best 60-40. It was terribly hard to read.

    I don’t use adblock, and I don’t use Reader for it’s ad-blocking capabilities. What I want is a page I can read easily on my 23″ monitor, without my eye always being pulled off to the margins by ads.

  109. Waldo Jaquith on June 14, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I didn’t realize that this blog entry had multiple pages until you mentioned it in a comment, Jim. That’s Exhibit A for the value of Readability and Safari 5, isn’t it?

  110. Matthew Strebe on June 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I have to say, your article was a lot better in Reader. The heads as background wall paper and the #1 tip for a flat belly ad really distract from what you’re trying to say.

    And as for an “arms race”, well, I’ll put my money on Apple over a bunch of web monkeys any day.

  111. James on June 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Cedric,
    Maybe he should do both, and in both situations you will probably see the alternate options to be a smaller percentage in both cases.
    What you need to think about is that AT&T (and maybe Verizon) have started implementing usage based pricing. I don’t want to load megabytes of information on a view all page and then read the first paragraph and decide not to read the rest of it. Think about it.
    @ Cedric:

  112. Vitenka on June 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    But.. you already ARE using an ebook interface, single column of text with some images – and then you’ve got a load of crap on the top and right hand side, and for some reason huge margins and a fixed width….

    You’re right, it will cause an arms race.

    Which is sad. Because “Show me the middle bit, the bit I’m trying to actually read” seems like a damn nice button to have. (Especially on small screen devices)

  113. Joe Stevens on June 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Jim,

    I like the changes you made so far and your advice for publishers is great as well. The best way to prevent users from using things like Reader is to make your content readable from the get go.

    I don’t know that Apple built Reader to combat Google, I think their intentions were better then that. I think Apple is trying to help advertisers the current web model of putting a whole bunch of irrelevant ads on your page is no good for them. If by building Readability Apple can get Publishers to show less ads then the ones Publishers do show can be more valuable. It seems like its working so far since you are making changes to improve the readability of your site.

    Reader has also restarted the debate over ad’s and ad blockers in the web community and I think its a great thing. Maybe it will inspire us to finally find a ad model that works great for everyone.

  114. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Hello Cedric,

    Thanks for the feedback, I noted the importance of multi-page articles for revenue reasons as well earlier. But there’s also a danger dumping a reader into a very long article with tons of screenshots with no warning first. See the link to one of my DLR reviews.

    I’ve taken steps to give readers the choice in how they wish to view the content. But the default will always be multi-page. It’s up to the reader to decide how he or she wishes to view the content after that.

    As far as intellectual honesty goes, I’ve been completely honest about the reasons for breaking articles up, as well as the value it provides to the publisher and some readers who might not appreciate being dumped into a very long review/article with no warning.

  115. Cedric on June 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Jim,

    I think your justifications for breaking up your posts (even very short ones) in several parts are pretty weak, and I have yet to come across someone who prefers an article spread on multiple pages rather than a big one. But it’s easy to test: reverse your approach. Post all your articles in one big page from now on, give readers the option to display them broken in several parts and see how many will pick that option.

    I’m betting that button will not get a lot of clicks.

    Anyway, this is your blog, far from me the idea to tell you what you should put in, but at least have the intellectual honesty to admit that you’re breaking up your articles for monetization and page view purposes.

  116. Scott Bryant on June 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Jim,

    I fear you’re still not getting it. Is using Reader really any different than TV watchers using DVR to fast forward through the commercials? It’s pointless to cry about it. Some of your audience just doesn’t like ads or commercials. If you can’t respect that, at least accept it with some kind of grace.

    You hit on something – make your web site more user friendly. But then you seem to imply in your follow up that web sites should be chaotic, and if you don’t like it, read an e-book. The basic web business model you cite is probably not viable in the long term. So cry if you want, or be an innovator. I think you’re on the right track by giving your readers more choices, though. You want to maximize your page views, but you just have to accept the fact that readers want options in how to view your content. Forcing them all to do it one way will simply chase most of them away.

    Well, a well-designed web site will make visitors less likely to click on the Reader button. And that doesn’t mean no ads at all. Just use thoughtfully place ads that are themselves well designed. In fact, I read some research that shows simple, static banner ads are more likely to be clicked on that the garish Flash-based ads. I think it shows that readers generally don’t want to be screamed at.

    This is why I mentioned graphic design in my comment on the original post. Study. Learn the fundamental of good design. You are right, that you never know what you’re going to bet on the web. But please don’t criticize those who would rather avoid the chaos. The web is all about choice, isn’t it? And those who choose to impose chaos on their visitors should’t be surprised that there are consequences.

    On the flip side, web readers should recognize that the collection and distribution of information and knowledge has a cost. Somewhere, in between, there has to be a balance. And I think that’s where we’re at as a society. We’re still in the midst of determining where that balance lies.

    Your attacks on Apple continue to sound like sour grapes, however. Discouraging readers from using Safari is certainly your right, but you don’t come off sounding very knowledgeable. Calling Safari clunky and slow is counter to both independent benchmark tests and my own personal experience. I’ve bounce back and forth between using Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, and find myself using Safari almost all the time now. I find it faster and much more intuitive to use, both on my personal Mac and on my Windows machine at work. The only advantage Chrome had was in its ability to crunch Javascript, but Safai 5 has made that speed advantage nil. Firefox is painfully slow compared to both Chrome and Safari. The only advantage Firefox had was in it’s ability to customize. Now, with extensions, Safari is plenty customizable, and there’s little reason for me to use any other browser other than to check for compatibility.

    And attacking readers for their sense of “entitlement” won’t garner you more readership, other than to express their outrage, as you well know from your last blog post.

    Good luck, Jim. We content producers are all trying to figure this thing out.

  117. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I’ll check out his article, thanks.

    By cloned, I mean that a similar feature will probably be built into most browsers. I’m familiar with Readability but how many people use it versus using something like it that is literally built right into the browser?

    So when it’s cloned into Firefox, Chrome, IE, etc. I think Reader will have much more of an impact. Not many people use Safari, comparatively speaking.

  118. Richard Anderson on June 14, 2010 at 10:48 am

    What do you mean cloned? It’s not as if Safari Reader is a new thing. Readability did it first, if I recall. Instapaper does the same basic thing. Apple is just the first to integrate it, and not even well. (This is coming, I might add, from an Apple partisan. Given the choice, I would and do use Readability.) I encourage you to read Merlin’s piece, especially the bit under “The Lumpen Metrics of Page View Addiction”. That publishers are reacting to Safari Reader in such a way is telling, and I would say confirms Merlin’s point on the addiction people have to page views and ad impressions.

    Essentially, the current web business model is, and has been, broken from the get-go. Finally, enough fed up people have thrown enough spanners in the works to gum it up. I’m glad you had the courtesy to add “for now” to your comment on the need for those crutches.

  119. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I don’t think it’s any secret, Richard, that publishers need to generate a lot of page views and ad impressions. That’s the basic web business model (for now).

    But it’s a bit dangerous to generalize and assume that everybody wants very long reviews or articles to load up on one page, with no warning (especially with a lot of screenshots).

    I think I’ve hit all the sweet spots in terms of readability. View All, Print, and PDF give readers the maximum amount of reading flexibility and with no dependency on a particular browser’s features.

    It will be interesting to see how publishers react (or if they react at all) to Safari Reader as it is cloned into other browsers.

  120. Richard Anderson on June 14, 2010 at 10:33 am

    @ Jim:
    Indeed, I did read the last page of the article. In my opinion, providing a PDF is a mere hack, as is providing a print view, or a “View all” option. Print views should be dead anyway, since all major browser support media-specific stylesheets. Print views are a hack for reading on paper, and are not designed with optimal viewing on a screen. With regards to “skipping around”, if you provide clear enough headers, a reader could easily skim through the page to find what they want. We’re trained from our earliest days of reading, on the printed page, to skim. Why re-invent the wheel?

    It strikes me that people who claim users want multiple pages are just trying to hide that “content” creators want multiple page views and ad impressions. Even if your motives are pure, far too many sites use tiny chunks of content spread across multiple pages to drive up their analytics for the benefit of advertisers.

    If an article is really too long to read in a single sitting, that’s where services like Instapaper come in, and Instapaper, much like Readability and Safari Reader, also strips out ads—as well as site chrome and other things, to provide a good reading experience. I’m not opposed to advertising on the web, or opposed to making money. I think, however, that far too many of the people complaining about Safari Reader/Readbility/Instapaper/etc, are placing far too high a value on how much money they make from their content, and not the value of the content itself.

    Merlin Mann of 43 Folders goes into this far better than I can. (http://www.43folders.com/2009/04/10/free-me)

    Rather than complain about readers and companies developing tools to improve the user experience, start making content that people will want to read, and stop trying to impose limitations on people’s preferences on content consumption.

  121. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

    BTW, Richard, one of the other things about that review is that breaking it up into multiple pages lets folks hop around and read only the sections that interest them. The drop down menu provides easy navigation to the pages they wanted to read while also allowing them to skip the stuff they might not care about (booting, installation, etc.).

    So if you step back and think about it, not everybody wants every page of an article put on one page. Especially if it is a long review that involves 25+ screenshots, etc.

  122. Jim on June 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Hi Richard,

    Did you read the last page of this column? I have made it easy for folks to read the article any way they want to read it. And they can even convert it to a PDF file to take with them and read it later on.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with splitting the article into multiple pages. Not everybody wants to read one big, long page. You have anti-clickers (who hate multiple page articles) and you also have anti-scrollers (who prefer content that is broken down into bite-size chunks). You can’t please everybody.

    For a good example of what would piss off an anti-scroller, have a look at one of my reviews over on Desktop Linux Reviews. This review is all on one page. Anti-scrollers would NOT like this at all as it is quite a long scroll. Those who aren’t on broadband also wouldn’t like it all loading on one page without warning:

    Linux Mint 9 (Isadora)
    http://desktoplinuxreviews.com/2010/05/18/linux-mint-9-isadora/all/1/

  123. Richard Anderson on June 14, 2010 at 10:14 am

    The utility of Safari Reader is apparent when you come across a website with far more advertising than content, or an article that is shamelessly split across multiple pages to maximize page and ad views. I’d say sites like that are far more harmful to the web than Safari Reader. In a crass attempt to increase profits and marketability, far too many sites feel that is it their duty to artificially inflate the amount of time and clicks it takes to read something, for the express purpose of having more ad views. Your own splitting of this short article into three pages is a perfect example. Rather than complain about people reading your articles the way they want to read them, why not put that energy into producing content that people will want to read?

    I don’t use Safari Reader, mind, I use the Readability service which predates Safari, and (I think) does a much better job, and is cross-browser comptable.



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