August 03, 2005

Divide and Conquer

The time I walked out of "City Slickers 2" being a notable exception, I like to think of myself as a uniquely patient individual who is able to put up with a remarkable amount of crap from other people when necessary. This of course has its drawbacks -- I definitely find myself trapped in horrendously dull conversation with exceedingly mundane personages at parties and other social functions far too often for my liking -- but for the most part I don't mind having such a laid-back disposition.

However, something has recently come to my attention that I can ignore no longer. Call me nitpicky if you want, but know that I was sitting back patiently listening to your story about purchasing new cargo shorts at that party last week when I really wanted to gouge your eyes out and stuff them in your mouth to make you stop talking. (Whew! Excuse me. I feel better now.)

Anyhow, as I was saying -- something has been chafing at me like nobody's business lately. It's been eating away at the back of my mind like some unwanted intruder from the insect world, nibbling bit-by-bit until I can take it no more. I've noticed it most of all on sports web sites (though admittedly that's all I read). Perhaps some of you "real news-reading types" have become aware of it as well. In fact, I think I recall having seen it on your news-oriented "New York Times" site.

What I speak of is the seemingly-newish practice of inserting a "continue story" link in the midst of an online article, forcing the reader to click on a link (sometimes leading to a pop-up ad or two) in order to finish the story. This has become particularly prevailent on ESPN.com, where I now have to click two or three times on a link just to complete a story. For whatever reason, I find this absolutely infuriating. I think it's primarily because -- beyond the fact that having to click on multiple links to get through a story is disruptive and irritating -- the whole inconvenience seems to be deeply unnecessary. Honestly, what purpose does this little interruption serve? In most cases on ESPN.com, clicking on the link between the story doesn't lead to any pop-up windows, so it's not for advertising (which I suppose I could understand). It's crossed my mind that the story is broken up to prevent people from easily cutting and pasting the entire story and sending it to other non-subscribers (many of ESPN.com's articles now require a paid subscription, which is a whole other thing I could get all riled up about).

Now I know, there are likely some of you out there who say, "Hey, having to click on a link isn't that annoying. It takes you all of two seconds to do it." But I assure you, naysayers out there, it's actually quite disruptive



CONTINUE STORY



to have to take an unwanted pause.

At the beginning of this little diatribe, I said I was the kind of person who could put up with a lot of crap when it was necessary. But I just don't see how this little article-dividing procedure does anyone any good. If there are any experts on the subject out there, please educate me. I'm interested in what you have to say.

I just can't guarantee I'll listen.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Bird said...

Hey man. I also get infuriated by this. ESPN does offer a "single-page view" link at the bottom, but that still requires a click, and I don't see why they can't make that the default. The other day I decided to see how much data is in the ESPN home page (never mind why), and it came in at a whopping 100K. One hundred freaking kilobytes of crap! Every time you load a page!

My point is, the extra text to make it a single-page view is probably only about 1K or so. So they're not doing for bandwidth reasons. My guess is they do it to serve up more banner ads--to maximize their impression numbers.

1:47 AM, August 04, 2005  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

I decided long ago that ESPN.com is the worst sports site there is, besides Bill Simmons. The whole "Continue" link is the last straw, and I plan on sending them a corruptive virus.

On a side note, they do have the "single page view" thing, but they didn't at first. I have to imagine that they were inundated with thousands of angry sports fans that didn't like the extra clicks.

I also think it is purely a scam to increase the number of hits on the site. My guess is that veiwership has taken a major hit over the past couple of years due to the whole "Insider" debacle, and they need to keep the hits up to keep advertising prices from dropping.

I hate them. I hate what they've become. I still watch it fanatically, but they continuously do things that make me want to throw my beer against the wall, and not in a good way.

10:22 AM, August 04, 2005  
Anonymous John said...

It's all for the banner ads. Each time you click on a "continue story", you get to a new page, with new ads. So even though there may not be any new pop-up ads, you are seeing more total ads. More ad revenue. Just be thankful that espn has the "single page view" option; cnnsi doesn't even have that.

12:20 PM, August 04, 2005  
Blogger jdg said...

It is definitely for the banner ads. And I agree with John, CNNSI's is worse.

ESPN has definitely gone downhill -- their boxscores are always behind MLB.com's and Yahoo's, their new look pages are always buggy for a long time -- but they offer content that the other sites can't match, even if it's all subscription now. Gammons, Simmons, Chad Ford, John Hollinger. That stuff is all must-read for me the minute it comes out. The only non-ESPNer who compares is Dr. Z.

8:48 PM, August 04, 2005  
Blogger The OCC said...

Yes, that's the infuriating thing. I hate ESPN.com (and ESPN), but they've got you by the balls because their respective top guys really are the authorities. Especially Chad Ford -- no one is tied into the NBA pipeline better than that guy as far as I can tell.

9:49 PM, August 04, 2005  

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