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Purdy (2383)

Purdy
  jasonNO@SPAMpurdy.info
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Bleh - not feeling creative right now. You can check me out on PerlMonks [perlmonks.org].

Journal of Purdy (2383)

Thursday May 04, 2006
08:25 AM

Competition & AJAX

[ #29529 ]

So I was playing around with the Discussion2 stuff, which is pretty neat, but it got me thinking about the whole AJAX stuff and competition in general.

Competition

Slashdot (and Slashcode) seems to be really evolving lately, with tagging, CSS and improved commenting system. I don't know this for sure, but I gotta think that it's because Digg has put on some competitive pressure.

I always thought Slashdot was the 2-ton gorilla in the room that no one could mess with, but it goes to show that there's always a way to topple the giant.

I'm not saying that Slashdot is dead - there's a place for editorial control (save for April 1st), but they've certainly lost a lot of power to Digg, at least IMHO.

AJAX Thoughts

Some people refer to the onslaught of AJAX as AJAXturbation, which is crude, but seems to really get at the heart of current approaches.

Opening up your web application to AJAX techniques dramatically (and exponentially) increases the amount of traffic between the user and your server(s). So while we've saved bandwidth by converting from tables to CSS, we're going back with these little bursts of requests and responses as the user is on one page.

Another random thought is web analytics and statistics - do these AJAX requests/responses affect the stats ... should they? i.e. Does Digg tell their advertisers that a person landing on their homepage and digging two stories is 1 page view or 3?

Also, while AJAX is way cool to work with and that alone is a factor for so much of it out there, how will this affect JavaScript's presence and dependence and are developers really thinking out the logic of using it?

For example (and this is probably not the best example), pudge mentioned you can click on the 'read further' link and viola! AJAX will bring the rest of the comment into view without the fuss of going through a page refresh. My point is that this will lead to a user playing around with it more and thinking less of the "cost" of clicking those links. So I (the user) play around with hiding/showing comments with less concern, devaluing the content and at the same time, hammering the server with these tiny requests.

Probably a better example would be the Wall St. Journal's recent right-click search. That will add to a lot of playing around and at the same time, it's annoying to have two right-click context menus.

Let's hope with all these requests flying all over the place that the Net Neutrality Bill passes (and that the DRM/Broadcast Flag people don't try to slip in some of their wishes).

But maybe that's the way the Web (2.0!) has to go, in order to become the next OS... what do you think?

Peace,

Jason

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  • I’ve seen people post in two or three different occasions when they got linkslammed by multiple sites, and they all said that visitors coming from Slashdot were by far the bulk of the traffic, with a much larger initial spike and a much longer overall wave. The biggest reason is probably that stories stay on the Slashdot homepage much longer than links fall off the bottom of the Digg homepage.

    • I've seen that analysis, too, and I agree. I did overstep and say that Slashdot was toppled, when it's not really.

      What I'd really like to emphasize more is that since I've known, read and followed Slashdot (5 years?), it is only recently that it has made steps to improve itself and it seems to be a reaction to the gaining popularity of Digg.

      My bad [perl.org]. ;)

      - Jason
      • I don’t know if it’s competition in that exact sense.

        What I see is more that Slashdot was up to par with the status quo until recently. Noone at Slashdot had specific incentive to improve upon the interface. Then the AJAX wave broke out, and people started to think about how to use that for a community site – and these people do have incentive to improve upon Slashdot. So basically they’re doing R&D for Slashdot. Anything they come up with, Slashdot will eventually catch up to.

        • The thing is, we have made many improvements in Slashdot over the years, but in the last several years, most of them are more under the hood. There is some truth about other sites doing R&D for us, but it is mostly because we are so big, we can less afford to do client-side improvements than alienate a large number of users. Even the things we are doing now may not work with IE6, but should work with IE7. We've wanted to do JavaScript and CSS on comments for a long time, but really, the time is just
  • Not that I'm an AJAX fanatic, but I think AJAX get's a bad rap for being a drain on server resources. If used right it can actually reduce bandwidth and lessen the work of the server.

    First off, page requests can be smaller since the whole thing doesn't have to be sent on each request. Secondly, common functionality that would otherwise take cycles to compute (navigation bars, etc) on each request don't need to be if that part of the page doesn't change. And if the application caches properly on the clie

    • Right now, Slashdot uses Ajax for comments in only one place: to load long comments. So we give you only a portion of the comment, and then you click "Read the Rest of this Comment" to get the rest. We will also do Ajax for, probably, moderation and replying, but that obviously won't increase server use in any way, since you now have to load whole pages to do the same thing.
  • First off, there's webstats. Every advertiser, or potential one, wants to know the page views count, and wants that broken down by demographics/location.

    If the user's able to get all the information in one hit because the page is loaded with a bunch of tools setup to use ajax, isn't this almost counter productive?

    I think someone else had already mentioned that with proper caching ajax hits (or the multitude thereof) can be handled. Gotta love memcached :)