I live at the end of a five and a half minute paragraph July 26, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I know people hate the gimcracks and gewgaws that litter any given website, but when you post the "Print Preview" version of an article, it means paragraphs that stretch out over a foot wide in many browsers (depending on the size of your screen, I guess) and that can be really hard to read. There are two today, for example. Could we maybe agree to making the "Print" version available in your post, but not as the main link? Just a suggestion.
posted by hermitosis to Etiquette/Policy at 11:42 AM (63 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Also, any regular article usually has a link to the "Print" version right at the top of it, but the "Print" version itself doesn't always necessarily link directly back to the original article.
posted by hermitosis at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2011


Probably not.
posted by carsonb at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2011


Could we maybe agree to making the "Print" version available in your post, but not as the main link?
posted by carsonb at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a general practice, including both for quick reference is a nice idea if you're going to make a point of using the print version, yeah.

The other thing worth noting with printer-ready versions of articles is that some sites assume you actually want them to initiate printing of a physical copy when you hit that page, so best to test it first and watch out for that so a thousand mefites and lurkers don't end up having to tell their printer to stuff it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd rather have it stretch a foot wide in my browser. If that really bugs me, I can resize my browser.

The less Gimcracks and gewgaws I have to filter out, the happier I am.
posted by royalsong at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's definitely a problem that is browser specific.
posted by Ardiril at 11:51 AM on July 26, 2011


Huh. It doesn't do anything to my browser (FF, not 5.0 yet).
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2011


And the link in the God's Own Warden post doesn't go to a print page for me.
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on July 26, 2011


I'm not seeing a problem with either link (FF 5.0, Win 7).
posted by tommasz at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2011


I had to look up gimcracks and gewgaws
posted by iotic at 12:05 PM on July 26, 2011


I had to have iotic look up gimcracks and gewgaws. I still don't know what it means.
posted by slogger at 12:08 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Readable is awesome when you want to read longer articles. It's all client based, so it hugs your privacy all day long.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:09 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Agree that people link to the print version to get something with the pages stitched together, but then the formatting tends to be terrible, basically unformatted.
posted by smackfu at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2011


I had to look up gimcracks and gewgaws
posted by iotic at 8:05 PM on July 26


And royalsong has to look up less/fewer usage. :-)
posted by Decani at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2011


I prefer the print versions. On a computer I don't use a maximized window. On a smartphone, the print version is usually much better, sometimes the text on a non-print version barely shows at all.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Haha, I thought they were made up words.

I was emphasizing by using the words hermitosis used. I probably could have quoted them, but I thought that made me sound sarcastic and/or snarky.
posted by royalsong at 12:17 PM on July 26, 2011


hermitosis: "Could we maybe agree to making the "Print" version available in your post, but not as the main link?"

I think this would be a good idea. That said, "we" can't agree on anything, really.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:19 PM on July 26, 2011


The less/fewer distinction is an invention of some prescriptivist clod in the 18th century that flies in the face of actual usage hundreds of years prior and since. That's sort of a running theme with usage prescription, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:20 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Resizing the browser is a pain for me if I'm flipping back and forth between different tabs as I'm reading stuff.
posted by hermitosis at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2011


The less/fewer distinction is an invention of some prescriptivist clod in the 18th century that flies in the face of actual usage hundreds of years prior and since. That's sort of a running theme with usage prescription, though.

That's such a cliche about usage prescription that I wouldn't believe it without strong documentation.
posted by grobstein at 12:23 PM on July 26, 2011


Hitting command-plus (command and +) increases the font size, sometimes, compensating for text being browser-wide. [this may be control-plus/minus on pc's? Likewise, cmd-minus decreases the size of the text.]

You can also make the browser window thinner.
posted by not_on_display at 12:32 PM on July 26, 2011


whoop, just got to the part where you can't rezise your browser.. maybe you can open the article in a new browser so you don't have to resize all your tabs in one browser?

Obviously I am now wasting time at work.
posted by not_on_display at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2011


What annoys me even more is when people link to the second or third page of a multi-page article. I understand that's the last page you were looking at, but it's not really where I'm going to want to start.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:34 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have no problem with paragraphs being a foot wide. I do have a problem with bloated articles that stretch over multiple pages, and which are cluttered with sidebars, footers, headers, toolbars, insets, etc. Please continue posting the print version.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's such a cliche about usage prescription that I wouldn't believe it without strong documentation.

From Merriam-Webster, beginning bottom right of page 592. They are kinder to Baker than my "clod" really suggests, so in the name of peace I will downgrade him to "clod-enabler".
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


The normal pages always link to the print version, but the print version rarely link back.
posted by smackfu at 12:52 PM on July 26, 2011


The less/fewer distinction is an invention of some prescriptivist clod in the 18th century that flies in the face of actual usage hundreds of years prior and since. That's sort of a running theme with usage prescription, though.

I see what you did they're.
posted by jbickers at 12:55 PM on July 26, 2011


it hugs your privacy all day long

You should take if off after 25 minutes.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:55 PM on July 26, 2011


It would be cool if people could link to the article and then do a [print version] link somewhere in the post, but realistically it may take a while to catch on if it catches on at all. I think current wisdom is that pagination sucks.
posted by Kimberly at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Readable is awesome when you want to read longer articles. It's all client based, so it hugs your privacy all day long.

On Safari the little "reader" button that lights up on the right end of the URL is also quite useful for bringing you an easy-to-read, single page, no ads view of a document. It will also be included in Safari for iOS 5. There are Readable-esque extensions for Chrome and Firefox that remove the pain of multiple page articles.

But linking to the print page sucks especially when it opens the print page dialog box and has to wait for my printer to wake up before I can dismiss it.
posted by birdherder at 1:06 PM on July 26, 2011


Chrysostom: "I think this would be a good idea. That said, "we" can't agree on anything, really."

Instead of throwing our hands up at good ideas because we'll "never convince everyone", we can decide to implement this by adding a brief helpful hint to the post page or faq that says: "if you're linking to an article, it's helpful to include a print version as a separate link, rather than as your main link."

If this is judged to be a good idea, that is. I don't really care, myself. But it does bug me that the attitude around here is often defeatist when it comes to shaping the community into something better.
posted by danny the boy at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought this was usually a case of offering the print version if the online version was split into multiple pages. I very much appreciate it in those cases, and use Readable if the view isn't to my liking.
posted by odinsdream at 1:15 PM on July 26, 2011


I think we should burn hermitosis at the stake for even suggesting this and then roast marshmallows over his charred corpse.

Or we could do what Kimberly said, whatever everyone thinks is more reasonable.
posted by marxchivist at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2011


I disagree with hermitosis. I think the print version is much preferable to the paginated version, and we should actually encourage linking to said version.

Perhaps it is because I can't recall having ever run into the layout issue he describes, but I can't replicate that issue with the two links he provides, either.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 PM on July 26, 2011


Another vote of hate on the print versions. If there is a print version, then there's going to be a link to it from the main page, but it doesn't work the other way. That is, if you link to the damn print version, it's often hard to figure out how to find the actual readable version.
posted by octothorpe at 1:55 PM on July 26, 2011


I prefer to link to the single-page version primarily, and then supply a link to the main article. You can fuck around with pagination if you want to, but I just want the whole thing at once.
posted by Eideteker at 1:55 PM on July 26, 2011


err, provide a supplemental link to the main article
posted by Eideteker at 1:56 PM on July 26, 2011


Also, you can c/p a single page article into your text editor of choice, but it's not as easy to get a single page version sometimes.
posted by Eideteker at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2011


I vote to keep the less/fewer distinction. It lends clarity. (And misusage of less/fewer grates my frickin' earholes, so.)
posted by shakespeherian at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you find print versions of articles hard to read because the text is spread out over the width of your browser ... don't you find Metafilter hard to read, too?
posted by iotic at 2:28 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What annoys me even more is when people link to the second or third page of a multi-page article. I understand that's the last page you were looking at, but it's not really where I'm going to want to start.

On the same minor level annoyance: when people link to YouTube videos that are in the midst of a playlist, instead of the direct link. I know this is totally petty and irrational, but it just brings out the same immediate reflex to FIX that seeing a book left open, face down, on a table does.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2011


I first read the word "gimcrack" about 3 minutes ago in this obituary of Otto von Habsburg.
posted by doublehappy at 3:58 PM on July 26, 2011


I know people hate the gimcracks and gewgaws that litter any given website, but when you post the "Print Preview" version of an article, it means paragraphs that stretch out over a foot wide in many browsers (depending on the size of your screen, I guess) and that can be really hard to read.

You know what else is like that?

METAFILTER.

Try making your window smaller if you can't read it.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:01 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Actually, that doesn't work. But there's a handy link on the print preview pages leading back to the regular version.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on July 26, 2011


Wow, that's odd. Mother Jones is now redirecting me from the Print version back to the normal one when I follow the MeFi link.

Perhaps it is because I can't recall having ever run into the layout issue he describes, but I can't replicate that issue with the two links he provides, either.

I think the issue is just that if you have a big monitor, and full-screen browser, these articles tend to be a bunch of one or two line paragraphs.
posted by smackfu at 4:06 PM on July 26, 2011


I had never heard of a "gimcrack", this thread is great!
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:51 PM on July 26, 2011


Try making your window smaller if you can't read it.

I think it's a bad idea to impose preferences like these on the reader when the default link provides the reader with all the usual options. Especially in cases where doing so makes it difficult for someone to find a link back to the original source.

I get that everyone uses/reads the internet differently, using different browsers and different hardware, and so there really is no ultimate consensus. But that's why I think the main page you're linking to, just as it would be encountered if someone came upon it firsthand, is the best way to make sure everyone will get to enjoy it (or not) the way they prefer.
posted by hermitosis at 8:46 PM on July 26, 2011


I thought Gimcrack was that dwarf expelled from the Moria Guard for serious substance abuse problems.
posted by Abiezer at 8:51 PM on July 26, 2011


I love how people hate pagination so much.

DO I SEE YOUR DENS AND READING NOOKS FILLED WITH SCROLLS?
posted by setanor at 11:16 PM on July 26, 2011


I mean, I hate it too - it just gets a bit silly sometimes.
posted by setanor at 11:17 PM on July 26, 2011


In fact "gimcrack" is properly only to be used as an adjective fuck im a prescriptivist clod
posted by Segundus at 12:54 AM on July 27, 2011


Resizing the browser is a pain for me if I'm flipping back and forth between different tabs

Me too, which is why I will generally right-click on the tab concerned and do "open in new window" when confronted with a wall of unformatted text. I generally find that having done that, the wall of unformatted text is usually much less annoying than having to click Next Page links and waiting for reloads instead of merely rolling my mouse wheel, so I am grateful to people who post print-friendly links.

I'm also a big fan of NoSquint.
posted by flabdablet at 3:41 AM on July 27, 2011


Are the twitter and facebook buttons on Metafilter gimcracks or are they gewgaws?
posted by bukvich at 7:45 AM on July 27, 2011


I prefer print versions. Neither one of the examples resizes my browser. I can't think of a time that that's ever happened, and I am on a computer of wee proportions.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:34 AM on July 27, 2011


Isn't this something the market solves itself? One person does this -- presumably the person who wants to see it done -- a few people like it and use it in their FPPs, and it eventually becomes the standard without any coordination?
posted by davejay at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2011


Yes; part of that process may involve coordinating through Metatalk, etc. etc.
posted by grobstein at 11:25 AM on July 27, 2011


MetaFilter itself has unlimited line lengths, a known error the site refuses to fix for all sorts of reasons including outright ignorance and denial. Limiting links to other sites that do the same thing seems like shooing a fly off an elephant.
posted by joeclark at 7:03 PM on July 28, 2011


You are hilarious.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:14 AM on July 29, 2011


And you, Shakespearean, can’t spell or capitalize. I guess that makes us even.
posted by joeclark at 10:08 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


wut
posted by shakespeherian at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2011


And you, Shakespearean, can’t spell or capitalize. I guess that makes us even.

Ah, the Fortnight Comeback. No one ever expects them!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:25 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


T. S. Eliot: also a shitty speller.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:42 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


cortex is the first person to know what the hell I was talking about.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2011


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