A metaphor for the new Gawker, featuring Nick Denton and pie.
I don’t know who Nick Denton, Gawker guru of operations, is trying to fool here, but judging from the (1200+ mostly negative!) comments on the article, he may have missed his target. He begins with an admission, of sorts:
I should first explain the radio silence of the last couple of weeks. We’d wanted to respond to feedback not with promises of future improvements but with actual fixes.
Okay, so there were problems with the roll-out of the new design. Nice of Denton to acknowledge that much. But it turns out that the problem wasn’t that the new Gawker was a giant, unwieldy, monstrous piece of shit; it’s that the readers weren’t ready for all this change, which, after all, is the way of the future:
We had mistakenly thought mouse scrolling (via scrollwheels or trackpads) and keyboard shortcuts were enough for story navigation—an overly optimistic expectation to say the least.
Translation: You people are dumb! Sorry I didn’t realize how fucking dumb you are! Maybe if you learned how to navigate a website, we wouldn’t be having this conversation! Dummies!
Denton’s solution to the problem of the Ludditism and ignorance of his audience was to add a scrollbar in the right sidebar to improve navigation. Needless to say, the second scrollbar is glitchy, too! And it’s also slow! Which means it doesn’t really address the new Gawker’s overarching problems of glitchiness and slowness, because it’s both! And it compounds those problems by adding another layer of navigation to a site that doesn’t need another glitchy and slow piece of shit plugin on the front page!
Denton wants you to know that he’s been listening, though, and that he’s addressed another concern he’s heard from the commentariat:
For devotees of the traditional blog view, we preserved a version of the site in which the story excerpts (not just the headline index) are arranged in reverse chronological order much as in the past. But it wasn’t obvious how to set that option. So you’ll see a button at the top of the page which allows a reader to switch back and forth.
Yes, we all preferred the blog view. It was simple and elegant, as blog views are wont to be. So Denton would like to remind us that it’s still there, because he cares! But what he fails to address is the fact that the blog view, like the rest of the site, is slow! And glitchy! As fuck! Which is sort of the main problem with the redesign!
Next, Denton winningly addresses the problems with the new commenting system:
Yes, we thought that commenters could do for a few weeks without the fancier functionality such as reply notifications. We had a rollout deadline to meet.
[W]e should have at the very least restored the basic reply notifications. I hadn’t realized the extent to which the most avid commenters relied on that feature. It’s back.
From a glance at the comments on the article, reply notifications are back — with glitches! And not before half of the commentariat engaged in a voluntary exile to Crasstalk. I don’t know if it’s utter tone-deafness or just plain arrogance, but Denton seems to have forgotten that a good part of his business model relies on readers poring over the comments on any given article — which, I might add, are often better than the articles themselves! And bear in mind, too, that the commenters are people who stuck around through the infamous Gawker hack — i.e., they are pretty fucking hardcore. Now they’re fleeing en masse due to UI issues, and Denton has the gall to condescend to them by saying, “we thought that commenters could do for a few weeks without the fancier functionality”? I don’t know precisely what Denton has in mind when he uses the word “fancier” here, but an inability to navigate through comment threads counts as a pretty “basic” functionality problem. One that still hasn’t really been fixed. Bravo!
Finally, Denton addresses the elephant in the room:
No, dude. Just, no. If my computer’s fan has to turn on every time I open a new tab on your Website of the Future because my RAM is 95% committed to loading the damned thing, you’re doing it wrong. Denton wants you to pretend that the new Gawker is not incredibly slow anymore. But it is! And if it’s sped up at all since the redesign, I certainly haven’t noticed it.
Look, Denton, I’m going to join the angry mob here for a second and get my pitchfork on: Go back to the way things were. Design a beta version of the new and improved Gawker Media Empire, toy with it for however long you need to until it actually, you know, works, and roll it out when it’s ready.
(FYI: You can still access the old Gawker sites by pretending you’re Canadian.)