A COMPLETELY SCIENTIFIC INTERNET SURVEY.

You bring up a Web site in your browser, hoping to savor the delectable nuggets of entertainment and information to be found there. The first thing you see is a picture—let us say a picture of an okapi—with two or three paragraphs of information beside it. Your interest is piqued. You have always admired okapis from afar, and have been waiting for an opportunity to be better informed on the subject of okapis. You feel as though a long-vacant space in your mind is filling up, and your deepest longing is about to be satisfied: at last, you will soon be up to date on okapi-related matters—

And then suddenly the picture and text make a mad dash for the left edge of your screen. Before you can catch them, they are gone, and you had not even finished the first paragraph. In their place appears something else—something about new fashions in organic fertilizer or six International Style gas stations to see before you die. What happened to the okapi?

You have encountered that pampered darling of Web designers, the slider. Web designers are in love with the slider. They salivate over sliders the way chocolate addicts salivate over triple chocolate mousse cake. “There is literally no better way to make your website look totally stunning,” says the Web site of a company that sells a slider plugin for WordPress.

But does anyone who is not a Web designer like sliders? Anyone at all? Are there any readers who, coming upon a Web site with a slider on the front page, shout, “Hallelujah! At last, here is information presented in the exact form in which I was hoping to find it!”?

Dr. Boli believes that no one likes sliders as a consumer of information; that they are adored only by what one might call the pushers of information: people and organizations that want to put information out there, without actually thinking through the question of whether it is information anybody wants to pick up once it has been put out there.

But Dr. Boli could be wrong. He has been wrong in the past. He was, for example, wrong about ebooks once; and before that, he recalls having been wrong about something to do with Franklin Pierce, though he cannot recall what it was at the moment.

So he puts this question to the Internet at large. Do any of you reading this right now actually like sliders? Vote by commenting below. Web designers may comment, but they must in fairness identify themselves. This survey will produce data exactly as scientific as those produced by other Internet surveys and quoted by respectable journalists as definitive, so vote as often as you like.

One interesting datum Dr. Boli will mention: the Web site he mentioned earlier, the one hawking a slider plugin for WordPress with the claim that “There is literally no better way to make your website look totally stunning.” does not use sliders.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
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Comments

  1. B. Farrar says:

    I don’t mind voluntary sliders (that is, nothing moves until you click the ‘next’ arrow/button), or those that are basically just pictures, but anything with text that shifts when I’m only halfway through reading it….

    They should at least offer a ‘pause’ button.

  2. Captain DaFt says:

    Well I’ll go on record as a chronic viewer of websites as totally against sliders.

    If I’m casually surfing the web and hit a site that uses them, I move on, nothing of importance here.

    If it’s a site I need for information, I break out the plug-ins and tweak the site’s behavior on my browser.

  3. ARCHIVE LOVER says:

    Sliders are perfectly awful, but what really makes me dismiss a website is whatever black magic makes scrolling up and down fade between roughly screen-sized portions of the website, as if I can’t be trusted to start and stop my scrolling where I intend to and need assistance navigating this one-dimensional labyrinth called the internet.

    I expect it’s a concession to browsing on a touchscreen device, but I have a perfectly good scroll wheel and I’d rather they didn’t actively hinder my attempts to use it.

  4. Sliders are annoying. I’m gonna add them to my list of cardinal sins in internet web design and advertising, things that tick me off so much that they make me actively and consciously hate the advertiser and/or web designer enough to want to boycott their product and/or website even if I was previously a loyal customer.

    The big one is banner ads that play sounds that can’t be easily muted. This is annoying in two ways. First, when browsing a website like Fark or even this Celebrated Magazine, I tend to open several stories in separate tabs for sequential reading in depth once I’ve finished reading the main-page listing of stories available. If one of those tabs starts making noise while I’m reading another, I hate the fact that I now have to hunt down which tab it is and where on the tab the noise is coming from. Either it’s interrupting the music I tend to listen to while browsing, or it’s interrupting a video or sound file I am listening to on the main tab I’m reading. I wish there was a plugin for Chrome that would turn that little speaker icon which shows which tab is making the noise into a mute button to mute that tab. It’s even worse when it’s a banner ad on the page where I am watching an embedded video on the same page. I don’t mind ads before, during, or after the video in question, which pause the video like a TV commercial. Nor do I mind silent banner ads playing next to the embedded video box. After all, pages need to pay for their bandwidth, hosting, and content-creation costs, and I’m willing to put up with advertising on general principles. But ads that make it difficult to enjoy the actual content by playing over them simultaneously, annoy me to the point of boycotting their products.

    Ads that expand to fill the frame on mouseover are also annoying. If I move my mouse pointer off to the side so it does not slightly obscure the text, graphics, or video of the main content, I don’t want it to then expand some sidebar banner ad to fill the screen and obscure the content even more. Related are ads that are mostly whitespace but still clickable. If I click in the text area of a website to enable scrolling with the mouse wheel or keyboard arrows, I do not want to close that page and open an advertiser’s site, even if that in turn puts a penny in the pocket of the website owner in the form of pay-per-click advertising fees.

  5. Lars Walker says:

    Let me put it this way. If I were to see a man (or woman) being assaulted on the street, and someone were to inform me, “The victim over there is the inventor of sliders,” I would not intervene in his (or her) defense. Nor would I call the police.

  6. Jason Gilbert says:

    As both a consumer and a pusher of information I think a particular type of slider works ok on standard (that is, not mobile) sites.

    The type of slider is one with a small key of thumbnails that makes it easy for the consumer to go directly to the image they saw and were interested in without having to wait for it to cycle back around or have to use the slider arrows to scroll through and find it.

    But “ok” is the best they get. They are an attempt to address a way that Web sites are inferior to print media. When you pick up a newspaper or magazine, you can scan a larger amount of information more quickly. In the time it takes a Web site to load, you can flip open a magazine, scan the table of contents (it is behind six pages of ads, but still) and even thumb around inside for a bit. A newspaper, when opened, is acres of content compared to a Web site. Web designers in the past tried to compensate by cramming pages dense with loads of information, but that is terrible.

    So they are trying instead to help you with the thumbing. If you don’t have a better solution, then you should just be grateful. There are kids in China that only have decade-old, cached versions of Drudge Report to read.

    • Dr. Boli says:

      We had always suspected that children in China lived lives of constant drudgery.

      • Ben Ieghn says:

        To dispel this myth, I have friends who grew up in Mao’s China; They are always admonished by their mothers to eat all the food on their plate because the poor little children in Capitalist America were without enough food to eat –

  7. Ben Ieghn says:

    The little burgers, “Yes”, the web info-teasers, “NO!”

  8. I had no time to read Dr. Boli’s post, but I’ll reply anyway.

    The slider doesn’t bother me as much as the spitball. The latter is actually against baseball rules, and even if throwing spitballs did extend Preacher Roe’s pitching years, I never could quite accept that about the man – though I liked him otherwise and played Little League in Preacher Roe’s Park. Once in a while, he’d come watch us play.

    But sliders? They’re legit. So, they’re okay.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  9. markm says:

    Fiends from Porlock used to merely interrupt a poet’s dream. With the internet, they can now be maddeningly annoying to many more people. Two of the worst manifestations are automatically changing sliders (so when something catches your attention, it’s gone before you decide to click on it), and anything that autostarts with sound.

    Martin, use your imagination a bit more. What we want is not (only) tabs that highlight and can be used to shut the racket off, but a browser that refuses to execute anything that makes noise or eats up bandwidth until and unless you click play.

    A somewhat lesser annoyance is the slide show that you have to click to proceed. This simply takes the place of a list that you can scroll through, while making it much slower to read the whole thing, and requiring a marathon of clicking Next. Possibly these are supposed to help those who surf the internet on a handheld device, but 99% of the time, it does not look to me like the picture or text would be legible on such a small screen. Jason’s explanation could apply sometimes, but all too often the thumbnails are too small – or the pictures are of too little value – to see if some parts are of more importance.

    A related annoyance: the local newspaper now chooses to report city council meetings on-line with a slideshow of uninformative pictures and bits of text off to the side. First off, if I wanted my news to be non-reported with pictures plus fewer words than were in the headlines of a traditional newspaper page, I’d watch the boob tube. Second, it’s got all the slideshow annoyances of pages that load slowly, and the necessity to either click yourself into the mouse version of carpal tunnel syndrome, or an auto-advance that never gets the timing right. Third, that bit of explanatory text tends to get lost off the side or bottom of the screen, obscured by ads, etc. And fourth, this is _really_ annoying since it’s the city council meeting, what they’re proposing is apt to cause all sorts of allegedly unintentional problems, and the members (I hesitate to call them people) need closer surveillance than a Mafia summit meeting.

    • The point of those slide shows that make you click to go to the next slide is to show new and different banner ads etc. with each slide, to make a visitor view many more paying advertisements per article/list.

      That much I can live with. But some of those clickbait articles you see linked on almost every dang site out there (See what these 14 stars of the Harry Potter movies look like all grown up!) are an even worse way to go about such things. For each item on the list, there is one picture and about four or five sentences of accompanying text. And each individual sentence is its own click-for-next slide, with the same picture, but with a new crop of banner ads and autoplaying videos with sound surrounding the approximately 15 percent of the screen that is actual non-ad content. And most of those sentences are useless and uninformative padding even by the abysmal standards of clickbait article writing. I might be interested in your list of the 12 coolest fictional aircraft or the 36 most surprising vintage photos, but I ain’t gonna click through 5 slides of intrusive video ads for each dang item on that list. So these days I boycott all such links.

  10. Kevin Kim says:

    A version of Godwin’s Law states that, in any comment thread related to “sliders,” White Castle will inevitably be mentioned.

  11. Jason Nemec says:

    I was excited to see what new “sliders”, those delicious two-bite size sandwiches, this blog was going to recommend. How disappointing to see it is about annoyances rather than pleasures. Oh well, sliders to eat are usually pretty good, sliders on the web are simply an aggravation that should go away.

  12. Sperwer Accipiter says:

    I prefer my sliders with horseradish.

  13. TheBlackLlama says:

    I can’t find a good thing to say about sliders. When they autoscroll, they annoyingly shift away before I can finish paying attention. And when they don’t – why oh why can’t you just put all the information in a list, one after the other? What’s wrong with using the mouse wheel to scroll down the page? Alas, another sign of the decay of civilization.

  1. […] He will point out, however, that much of the crankiness could be mitigated by good Web design. Make the site look more modern. Give it a menu structure that masks the unfathomable depths of crankiness within. Perhaps you could add a slider. […]

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