City Desk

Why I Hate the NYT Web Site

The New York Times' Web site is certainly one of the best in the news business. It's attractive, navigable, has great Web-only features, and it makes it easy to find the stuff you're looking for. They set the standards for newspaper functionality on the Web. But there's one new innovation that I hope gets doinked post haste.

Within the past few weeks, if you double-click on a word in the body of a story, it will pop up a web page with the dictionary definition of that word and perhaps some links to related content. Try it: Pretty nifty, huh?

Well, I really fucking hate it.

You see, I'm a compulsive clicker. When I read things on screen, I click and double-click and highlight and drag the text as I read. It helps my eyes follow where I'm reading. (And, yes, it drives people who might be reading along with me absolutely crazy.) I can't imagine I'm the only person out there who does this. Thing is, the nifty NYT dictionary clicker JavaScript thingy is popping up windows all over the place when I'm trying to click and drag my way through, say, a 5,000-word feature on the future of the Russian presidency.

First of all, when did it become OK again to throw pop-ups all over the place? I thought the Internet—at least the mainstream media Internet—outgrew this stuff years ago. I guess this is yet another example of featuritis, whereby one of your developers comes up with a sort of nifty trick, and you end up throwing it on the site just because you can and not because you actually tested it with how people use your site. Also in that cool-but-annoying-and-useless category: those stupid link snapshots.

This bother any other clickers out there?

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  • Kriston

    God, yes. It's enough to make a person pick up the physical paper.

  • J.T.

    I do the same thing, and for the same reason--helps my eyes focus on what I'm reading (plus a little of a compulsive habit). Drives me crazy too.

  • Blog Hater

    Well, this is nothing but a logical expansion of the blogger practice of stuffing hyperlinks into everything. And that's not just mildly irritating, but in many cases it's a complete expository copout. Will blogs stop at nothing in their quest to destroy civilization? Stay tuned!

  • Steve

    Amen! I can't stand this new "feature" either.
    I often triple click some text to select the whole line, and then I get interrupted with a popup.

  • Josh

    I feel exactly the same! I am always dragging and clicking to help me read text on websites better, and this new feature on is driving me nuts!!! I hope they stop it soon, or I may actually stop reading on their website. They should at least offer the option to turn it off.

  • Earl

    God yes, I'm one of those people too.

    I'm experimenting with greasemonkey to disable this.


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