Infinite Scroll Poll

If you are a regular reader then you know I immediately disabled infinite scroll when it was implemented on Twenty Eleven and Twenty Ten in early February.  I was horrified when I witnessed a distracting never ending river of posts (text loading first and images lagging behind) on the front page of this blog.  I have now enabled infinite scroll and you can become a participant in my poll.

There may be many reasons WordPress.com Staff are champions of the infinite scroll feature  behind the decision to implement infinite scrolling site wide at WordPress.com I am not aware of. Lest I drift off into a ramble on how cloud computing is changing the world  here are three I find plausible.

mobiles The mobile web is growing at a phenomenal rate, and is forecast to overtake the desktop web in 2014.

 

Then more people will access the internet for the first time using a mobile phone rather than using a desktop or a laptop.

  1. With infinite scroll enabled content loads quickly on new computers, mobiles and tablets without a full page reload. Infinite scroll favors those with state of the art computers,  who prefer quick blog surfing to relaxed blog reading. Those with older computers experience slower performance regardless of their connection.
  2. Photoblogging is also growing at a phenomenal rate and blogs laden with images are now commonplace in all niches.  “Pagination is a technique used to break large data sets into small blocks in order to reduce the server load. We used to create pagination buttons with page numbers and next/previous links. Now pagination has gained a new perspective with infinite scrolling.” —  How to Create an Infinite Scrolling Gallery in 10 Minutes
  3. Infinite scroll artificially inflates page view numbers.  Disabling Infinite Scrolling by use of footer widgets results in a “Load More Posts” link,  and clicking results in 7  more posts displaying.  (Note you cannot disable the “Load More Posts” tab from appearing without purchasing the annually renewable Custom Design upgrade.) Clearly more impressions means more advertising income for WordPress.com and for those with blogs in the WordAds program.  “Earn money from your WordPress.com site by showing high quality advertisements. Make your passion a career.”

Addendum

Re: “Do Not Track Plus” (DNT+) or Ghostery

For readers running security software or browser add-ons that block the tracking of their Web movements (Ghostery or DoNotTrackPlus, for example) infinite scrolling will be broken.

Reader feedback required

one cool site has an No-Ads upgrade and I decided to conduct a month long experiment. I enabled infinite scroll on July 1st and I’m asking  my readers to provide me feedback on how infinite scroll impacts your experience of visiting my blog. Please don’t be shy about sharing your details such as:

  • how you connect to the interent and WordPress.com;
  • which browser and version of it you are using;
  • what you experienced.

59 thoughts on “Infinite Scroll Poll

  1. By the way, it’s a pain in the butt on iPad and iPhones with Twelve Eleven theme because a person’s widgets gets pushed to the bottom the blog at the home page.

    1. Hi again Jean,
      It’s not “infinite scroll” that causes the sidebars to display below posts when viewed on mobiles and tablets. That’s due to the fact Twenty Eleven is a responsive width theme. http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/features/responsive-width/ Note that themes that do not have responsive width compel those with mobiles and tablets to scroll horizontally to view the entire page. When all is said and done 3 years from now so many people will be using mobiles and tablets that I’m preparing for that now. I’d rather have the sidebars display below the posts than compelling horizontal scrolling.

  2. Groan, did you have to enable infinite scroll? I also have Twelve Eleven theme. I had it on my personal blog and disabled it when wordpress.com modified the feature to offer us that choice of suspending the scrolling. I HATED it as a reader/user. I also have slidehows embedded in some blog posts and suspect it slows down the uploading of the blog in general when infinite scrolling was in effect at the same time.

  3. I noticed that some themes like Mystique are still not using this feature for some reasons.
    Is there any explanation for this?

    1. Yes. The themes are being retro-fitted with infinite scroll in order of their popularity ie. the most popular themes are being done first.

  4. First off, I’m liking your post, not infinite scroll!
    I detest infinite scroll, I like to have more control over my internet experience and having something constantly appear and appear and appear without being able to swifly scroll down to which post I want to go to, rather than which post is chosen for me to go to, drives me crazy. I also find it a pain on my private blog because prior to infinite scroll I was able to set my home page to a view of 100 posts for sorting and editing purposes and to do a quick ‘select all’ for a plain text backup of my posts. Now I can’t do that unless I keep clicking the links. How annoying.

    I’m currently using Firefox (11, as I had problems with 12 and 13. Haven’t tried 14 yet, it might still in Beta, not sure) on a Windows XP desktop. Occasionally I also use Opera and if I absolutely have to, I.E.8 (can’t use anything above I.E.8 on XP).

    Good on you taking this action. I hope you can tolerate I.S. for a month! :)

    1. Hi Val,
      I think your back-up issue is a signficant one. Before it was a breeze and now it has become a chore for you so that’s off-putting, for sure.

      After months of surprise introductions of features I did not want or need — features that I could not disable — waking up to infinite scroll on my blog was such a piss off. I still don’t cotton to it but now I find that where the blogger has posted excerpts only ie. inserted the more tag, then I’m not hating it.

      Granted that we are all resistant to change and we all have control issues, but who wouldn’t be resistant to change in an environment where continual introduction of new features by stealth is the order of the day? How many adults do you know who respond positively to those who fail to consult them, make changes that affect them, and then patronize them with a ‘we did it for you’ type of statement?

      I decided that I ought to rise above my negative feelings, try this for a month and then see how I feel about it. That wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. The easy decision was and is to join the exodus to self-hosting.

      P.S. I’m surprised to hear you had issues with Firefox 12 and 13. I haven’t so my fingers are crossed in the hope I will stay lucky.

  5. meh – dislike! It only makes sense if it anticipates where you are and preloads without skipping you all over the place – same thing being said over and over.

    Send this to the developer somehow – they’re obviously trying to be helpful and just need to hear from us!

  6. It’s never bothered me, but I’ve talked with other people who didn’t like it. In technical writing, we tend to try and isolate information – the relevant topic – to a single page. This is done to keep from overloading the reader. When someone uses an online help system, they typically come into the help with an expectation – they want to learn how to perform a specific operation. Technical Writers isolate topics for that reason. But technical writing isn’t blogging. It isn’t written for entertainment. How is entertainment reading affected?

    A page that provides a long stream of individual posts doesn’t bother me because the posts are isolated. So long as I can see where one ends and the next begins, it’s not a problem. Am I bothered by having a post I don’t want to read on the screen? Not really. I just scroll past it and keep going. Most blog posts are fairly short anyway. It’s when they’re extensively long AND I’m not interested that it becomes an issue. So it really depends on the blog and the blogger’s writing style.

    When an infinitely scrolling page provides a minimum set “preview” of the post (say, the title and 256 letters of text), along with a “read more” link to expand it, that can be useful. The problem with this comes in when the “read more” link doesn’t expand the post and instead takes you do a different page. Some people will like this, other’s won’t. It’s a navigation issue.

    I had a Professor once who wrote a long paper (and lectured) on navigation paradigms – using the metaphor of travel. The goal is to always keep the reader abreast of their location. The problem comes in when they no longer know where they are. (This was a web / help UI design course). With infinite scrolling, you generally know what blog you’re on, but only because it’s where you started. Unless some kind of header remains to identify the blog, you may forget where you’re at. So long as some kind of “anchor” remains (he used ship metaphors) to identify that location, the reader is not lost.

    1. @writerdood
      I always appreciate your comments. Infinite scroll is enabled by default on WordPress.com blogs so I assume there are many bloggers who don’t know it can be disabled.

      As I answer many support forum questions I have visited many blogs that have infinite scroll enabled. At first waiting for blogs to load annoyed me. I began to interview myself in an attempt to islolate what it was the bugged me so much. I believe it was the swift moving blur more than anything else that annoyed me. I did feel like I was a lost at sea and that points to a loss of control issue. I no longer felt like I was in command of my viewing experience.

      I also twigged to someting you said above about posts:
      “It’s when they’re extensively long AND I’m not interested that it becomes an issue. So it really depends on the blog and the blogger’s writing style.”

      That describes me too. :)

  7. I hated IS the first time I saw it, but I find it doesn’t affect me much. That’s because I almost always look at individual posts, rather than accessing someone’s home page, where IS-ing takes place.

    I’d made a vow to disable IS when it finally cropped up on my own theme (Vigilance). However, after scrolling down (on my own blog) and having the “IS experience,” I decided to leave it alone. I found it loaded faster than I thought it would (my site’s pretty minimalist). It also seemed to me that a visitor would hit certain images, be curious, and stop to read– rather than just scrolling on and on at top speed. Can’t be sure, of course.

    FWIW: I have a desktop iMac running OS X 10.4.11. I use Safari for most of my browsing, with Firefox as my backup.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the details and recounting your experience and decision. At first I hated it too. I’m not seeing any major change in traffic and reading patterns on my blog since I enabled infinite scroll. Based of just a few days of enabling it my first reaction may have been an over-reaction. My first response was a shocked one when I discovered I no longer had control over how many posts were displaying on the front page. I feel more comfortable now as I know I can disable it if I choose to. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the month brings.

  8. Timethief,
    you helped me when wp took infinite scroll site wide. I do not like it I host a blog about writing and hardly ever put pictures in my post. I find infinite scrolling to be very annoying especially when I am looking to comment on a particular post.

    1. Hi there,
      I remember you. It looks like your doing fine with your blog. Thanks so much for your comment. I hope you will vote or have voted in my little poll.

      1. I have voted on your poll, timethief.
        Actually my blog has just hit 3700 views today and is doing well.
        Thank you for helping me through the issues I had problems with.

  9. My instinct is to expect a footer somewhere; I get annoyed when a page goes on forever because I’m used to clicking through to what I want, not scrolling down through a ton of material for no reason. My preference probably comes from my background in print publishing, where page length, page breaks, etc. are one of many design considerations. I want as much control as possible over the elements on my page, including page length.

    1. @piedtype
      I have the same instinct and I like footer widgets because they help define “the end” of the page. Like you I want as much control as I can get over all the elements on my page. It’s going to be an interesting month.

  10. I have a brand new laptop. Since I am a self-employed writer, I enjoy using a laptop. I have high speed internet and I enjoy photography. But I have had to turn away from some photo blogs that take Forever to load. I have a limit on my internet service and I need to limit the amount of time spent looking at blog posts :)

    1. Hello there,
      I hear you when it comes to being on limited service. Some of my blogging buddies are photobloggers and they are concerned about what impact infinite scroll may have on their readers who are on limited internet service. I enjoyed my visit to your blog and thank you for commenting here.

  11. I despise infinite scroll, disabled it immediately and further got rid of it thanks to CSS upgrade, and have stopped reading some blogs because of it. On a very clean, sparse landing page, few if any widgets and buttons and such, it is barely tolerable. The busier the page, the worse it is.

    And in your blog… it doesn’t work. Here, it scrolls down to the “Have You Tried Scoop.It?” post, and then there isn’t anything else, and no “load more” link or “older posts” link – it just ends with that post. I suppose it is possible you have deleted all your other posts prior to May 28, 2012, but if you did, this isn’t really any kind of test.

    What stands out the most are the “Filed Under” and “Tagged As” lines that appear every couple of inches, and are incredibly distracting. (And yes, they don’t exist on my blog… love that CSS! I don’t want a blog that resembles a website, I simply view them as unnecessary clutter. I use them for my categorization, no other reason.)

    Would I continue to come here to read? No. If I thought (hoped is more like it!) that you had posted something that would help me, I’d immediately hit the Site Map or search box, and never see what is new on your blog.

    I’m here through Firefox 13.0.1 on a 20 inch monitor iMac. I have broadband cable access through Comcast, and right now checking… my speeds are hitting 28.42 Mbps.

    1. @Sensuous Inkspiller

      On a very clean, sparse landing page, few if any widgets and buttons and such, it is barely tolerable. The busier the page, the worse it is.

      That appears to be the consensus thus far. What it points to is if your blog has infinite scroll enabled it’s time to strip your blog. If you don’t you may lose readers. http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/08/18/minimalist-blogging-strip-it/

      And in your blog… it doesn’t work. Here, it scrolls down to the “Have You Tried Scoop.It?” post, and then there isn’t anything else, and no “load more” link or “older posts” link – it just ends with that post. I suppose it is possible you have deleted all your other posts prior to May 28, 2012, but if you did, this isn’t really any kind of test.

      Infinite scroll is enabled and does work for me on DSL running windows XP and Firefox 13. I can scroll back to the very first post I published without clicking anything at all. I can access my blog from my husband’s windows 7 running Firefox 13 too and do the same with no issues.

      My “sitemap” page is a post index page with the archives shortcode on it. Before there was a shortcode I kept an index page and updated it manually when I published. The archives shortcode does it automatically and I like that. :)

      1. I tried in Safari and it worked, and with opening Firefox in Safe Mode, it does show infinite scroll – I’ll have to figure out what is causing it not to work – this time AdBlock is innocent!

        Oh, archives short code! I’m going to look at that – thank you for the added info! :-)

      2. Sorry for posting again – the culprit was “Do Not Track Plus” – disabling that allowed infinite scroll to work. I’ll figure out whitelisting, but wanted to tell you in case it helps with all the forum work you do.

  12. I didn’t know it was an option. I have 20 posts that show up at a time. Because I use a lot of photos, I would think it would take longer to load..

    1. Hi Susie,
      If you want to enable infinite scroll and see the instructions I posted for Daniela above. If not then that’s good too. :)

  13. I have hated infinite scroll since it first reared it’s ugly head…..and don’t get me started on the Reader…UGH!

    Thanks TT for the info and poll. Very interesting. :)

    1. @strawberryindigo
      I’m laughing out loud but not because I don’t hear you or don’t agree with you. As we guinea pigs get no warning of whatever new and shiny feature will be introduced by stealth, all we can do is laugh when we wake up to yet another change we didn’t expect.

  14. Hi,
    I am glad you are writing about it. I am a newbie to blogosphere but nevertheless I love my little blog and trying to make it the best I can. So I went and tried to enable infinity but this is what I found: To infinity and beyond – We’ve disabled this option for you since you have footer widgets in Appearance → Widgets. It looks like I can’t try it … any ideas?

  15. Hi TT,
    Thank you for the comment over on my blog.

    Margie’s comment made me think again about themes that use abbreviated posts from the front page because the ‘Origin’ theme that I am using does that.

    I removed the footer search widget just now to experience Infinite Scrolling.

    I use a featured image in almost every post so that the featured image shows up in the homepage, and I found myself looking at the page as a whole and just scrolling to see a next image.

    My tentative conclusion is that scrolling encourages the hunting instinct – looking for the next interesting thing that might turn up a bit further down the page – in other words, it is addictive.

    Of course, I have already read my own posts, so maybe I was ‘blind’ to the titles and the extracts – but I think the tendency is there to just scroll and scroll for the pretty pictures rather than read a post.

    Do you know a way to increase the length of the extracts in abbreviated posts? If so, I will make mine longer.

    If not, I might go back to choosing a theme that shows the whole post.

    1. Hi David,
      You’re welcome and thanks for your comment here.

      My tentative conclusion is that scrolling encourages the hunting instinct – looking for the next interesting thing that might turn up a bit further down the page – in other words, it is addictive. … but I think the tendency is there to just scroll and scroll for the pretty pictures rather than read a post.

      I agree. We are living in an age of internet addiction and that addiction is to scanning and scrolling. I sincerely wonder how many people actually read my full posts. What I found to be distracting is that the text loads first and the images lag behind. Granted, others may find that to be fascinating to watch, but it annoys me.

      If and only if, the Origin has an active excerpt box you can control the length of the excerpt displayed. http://en.support.wordpress.com/splitting-content/excerpts/ I have played with it ain my text blog bust that was right after the theme was introduced and I can’t recall if the excerpt box “live” in that theme now. If it is then you can switch to the HTML editor and enter the exact teaser text and even a thumbnail that you want to be displayed. Please try it and let me know the result, okay?

      1. Hi TT,
        I checked, and ‘Origin’ does not seem to have an active excerpt box, so I cannot control the length of the excerpt displayed.

        I have gone back to using the Sundance theme, and although I didn’t ‘do’ anything to cause it – it doesn’t scroll!

        1. Hi David,
          I thought that might be the case. I visited both of your blogs and I like the Sundance theme. The fact that you can control what’s in the excerpt and it’s length is an important one to me. The only thing I don’t like about the theme is the gravatar on the left hand side of posts. Can that display be suppressed without affecting it everywhere else? Sundance is among the newer themes and Staff are implementing infinite scroll in order of their popularity. I expect it will be implemented in the future but as yet it’s not on this list http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/features/infinite-scroll/

          1. Your link to features is interesting – 193 themes in total available on WP.com and there are 83 themes with Infinite scrolling…

            About the avatars – I just tested it and turning off the sidebar avatar turns them off in discussions as well.

          2. @David
            Themes Staff have been very productive. They have been introducing new themes at a fast pace and also retrofitting themes with infinite scroll. As Matt mentioned a few like Depo Masthead won’t have infinite scroll due to their design but most will.

            Thanks for the update re: avatars on the Sundance theme. Now that I know disabling them in the theme display will also disable them in discussions, I’m feeling a strong attraction to using the theme on my personal blog.

  16. Connecting to the internet with the university internet connection or Airtel3G network or BSNL ADSL broadband.
    Browser version Firefox 13.0
    The experience basically depends on the formatting of the homepage. If the home page has full text articles (no more tag) then the experience is awful. But if the blogger used the more tag in the correct position so that the limited text is showed then the experience gets better, as we can see all posts effortlessly starting text without any click, just by scrolling.

    For me i have no performance issues at my system, i also have got the smooth scrolling enabled in firefox so the freeflow feels good in the properly formatted blogs.

    There are some blogs who will post very short light and entertaining posts, they will benefit from the infinite scroll, i think.

    One issue, where is the footer widget space? I use a lot of widgets in the footer in the Twenty Ten theme, which is not displayed when the infinite scroll is on. Therefore for me, it’s better to keep it disabled.

    1. @Phoxis
      Thanks for your thorough evaluation. I appreciate it very much. It seems your experience is the same as mine.

      I’m on windows XP using Firefox 13 BTW.

  17. I’m going to have to look at more blogs with infinite scroll before I can pass judgement. I expect the experience is more seamless on blogs with abbreviated posts than full posts because there is less distance to scroll?

    1. My experience was/is better on blogs where the blogger inserted the more tag and placed their images after it. My experience with blogs that have multiple images and large images has not been good.

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