Imagine the surprise WordPress.com bloggers using the Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, Coraline and MistyLook themes experienced when they logged-in and discovered they had lost control of the number of posts they set to display on the main page for posts on their WordPress.com blogs.
A Rude Awakening
On February 8th I woke up and found that the front page of this blog then wearing the Twenty Eleven theme was scrolling through almost 700 published posts. I was horrified, as I’m well aware that page loading time is a page ranking factor and I know at least some of my readers would be negatively affected.
Studies demonstrate that visitors will only wait for 3 – 4 seconds a site to load. Hence, slow page loading time is a frustration we don’t want visitors to experience. A blog’s load time will increase in accord with the number of images, videos, other media embeds and the number of widgets and script running on a blog. Resizing and optimizing all images to the exact size they will be in the blog before uploading them helps reduce page loading time. It’s also why I insert “the more tag” prior to large images and embeds, and limit the number of posts appearing on the front page of my blogs.
What Happened to Twenty Eleven?
What had happened to Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven on that fateful day was that Staff introduced “infinite scroll” to those themes. This is a site wide change and Staff will be implementing it progressively on all WordPress.com themes that have a suitable structure for infinite scroll. See here for infinite scroll themes updates.
Infinite scrolling is a new interface technique you’ll find popping up on various websites. It allows users to browse through content without clicking on pagination links. Instead, all users have to do is scroll to the bottom of the page and new content will automatically load on the current page. — Infinite Scrolling Best Practices
Do not need – Do not Want!
My “do not need – do not want” response was to switch themes back to Inuit Types and start searching for a workaround that would disable infinite scroll. I was not alone in that, nor was I alone when it came to bloggers providing their “feedback” on infinite scrolling, and requesting an option for disabling infinite scrolling in many forum threads. The infinite scroll thread was closed and then re-opened and closed again after a workaround was provided for some themes.
Infinite Scroll Workaround
If you have a theme with footer widgets you can use a workaround to regain control over how many posts are displayed on the front page of your blog.
The Reading Page at Settings > Reading has this setting >
Blog pages show at most __ posts
Infinite scroll overrides that Reading page “Blog pages show at most __ posts” setting on themes where it has been and/or will be implemented and enabled.
1. If you currently use a theme with footer widgets that are in use and that now has infinite scroll you may not be aware of the change (examples: Bueno, Coraline, Titan,Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven).
2. If you are not currently using footer widgets on a theme that does have both footer widgets and infinite scroll and you want to be shed of it, then all you need to do is install an empty text widget into any footer area for widgets. > Appearance > Widgets > Available Widgets > Text Widget (click the widget to open it and click “save” and “close”).
Then you will be able to disable infinite scroll by visiting your Reading Settings page in your Dashboard and the number of posts you set on the Settings > Reading page will prevail.
3. If you use a theme without footer widgets that does have infinite scroll (examples: MistyLook, Ari, San Kloud, Sunspot ), and you want to be shed of it, then you have two options:
(a) You can switch to a theme that does have footer widgets and install an empty text widget into any footer area for widgets. For some other theme possibilities see here > Sidebars and other widget areas: number and position
Once you have switched themes and installed the empty text widget in any footer area you will be able to disable infinite scroll by visiting your Reading Settings page, in your Dashboard and unchecking the “Scroll Indefinitely” option on Settings > Reading page. Then you will regain control of how many posts display on the main page for posts of the blog, as the number of posts you enter on Settings > Reading page will prevail. (Don’t forget to clcik “save changes”.)
(b) If you do not want to switch themes then first do what’s in (a) and then switch back to the original theme without footer widgets that you were using.
(c) If you do not want to switch themes the last remaining alternative to is create a static intro page in Pages > Add New, set your front to display that page in Settings > Reading, and rely on the Recent Posts and Categories widgets for navigation.
UPDATE: courtesy of Panos
a. Ari, MistyLook, San Kloud, Sunspot (no footer widgets) see 3. above
b. Bueno, Coraline, Titan, 2010, 2011 (yes footer widgets). see 2. above
In themes b, the number-of-posts-per-page option will show up after you disable the Infinite Scroll option in Settings > Reading.
UPDATE: The relevant workaround (i.e. adding footer widgets) doesn’t actually disable the feature: it simply changes it from loading automatically to loading via the “Load More Posts” tab. You cannot you cannot disable the display of “Load More Posts” without purchasing the Custom Design upgrade.
Selected Feedback on Infinite Scroll
If your audience is on a slow connection, this is VERY bad for them. If your audience is primarily European, Australian, Japanese, or North American, then it’s not so much of a problem. That’s the BIG issue for me. My blog is a pig to load at the best of times, and my experiences with infinite scroll at Tumblr tell me: people will use it, and will read a lot more of your blog, but as they do so, things will take longer to load and their computers may freeze entirely. — raincoaster
Have a look at Flickriver which is a great site which shows aggregated content from public Flickr pages. It has infinite scroll and is great as long as ones internet connection is up to it. My ‘net connection, although broadband, is slow as I live in a rural area. For me, Flickriver loads about three photos at a time and only the first of them appears in full while the others appear progressively from the top down, about a third of the first and second and the rest of the images take time to come. As I scroll down, the others aren’t even visible because my connection is too slow. If infinite scroll is like this for someone with a slow broadband connection, think what it’s like for someone with dial-up. — absurdoldbird
Unfortunately, bandwidth is not the only factor which affects speed. People who for whatever reason are stuck on older computers are going to experience slower performance regardless of their connection. I am going to guess that your developers, being developers, are using fairly recent, high-spec hardware as well as the most recent version of Firefox / Chrome / Safari. Power users who do this stuff for a living may not always be a representative sample of the average wordpress.com blogger, and it does seem to be hard for them to grasp that stuff they think is shiny and cool may simply be an annoyance to someone who is less tech-minded. That may not be just because they’re change-averse, or negative, or stupid, or whatever. Every crappy thing that has ever existed on the internet, from blink tags to Flash intros to popups, looked cool and shiny to some geek, somewhere, once. — wank
Discussion – Feature Implementation (Stealth Mode)
The ability to disable infinite scrolling on themes with footer widgets was provided by Staff, after lengthy discussion with bloggers, who did not appreciate losing the ability to control how many posts appear on the front/main page of their blogs and protested loud and long about not being able to disable that new feature. There has been no official announcement of the implementation of the “infinite scroll” feature on WordPress.com blogs on the official WordPress.com blog to date. But it’s here to stay and its coming soon to a theme you use on your blog. Do you have an opinion or an experience you would like to share?