What’s Wrong with Digg

I’ve been a regular Digg user for years but I have to say that their most recent design change both sucks and concerns me about the future of the site. This started not that long ago when Digg revised its comment system and made it virtually unusable. The comment system is a large part of the attraction of Digg and what was once a clean and simple interface became an ugly, nested series of blocks that got bogged down in the overuse of JavaScript and AJAX. Now I’m a big fan of JavaScript and AJAX but the designers of Digg need to take a lesson in moderation. It’s difficult to visually follow threads the way they have used blocks to separate posts and the vertical lines don’t help at all. The worst part comes when you try and open a story with a lot of comments. FireFox users will often be greeted with the message, “A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, or you can continue to see if the script will complete” at which point you can kill the script, let it continue, or debug it. Another issue has to do with posting comments. I’ve personally seen the bug where comments simply disappear from the story I posted them to yet when I go to my profile it still shows that I made a comment. Some part of Digg knows I made a comment yet another can’t seem to find it. Finally, and I’m sure this is related to the AJAX issues, but stories with a lot of comments can’t display them all at once. Instead you have the option at the very bottom to display comments x through y. What bugs me about this, and maybe I just don’t understand how they’re counting, but a story with say 450+ comments only has a link to “Show 51 – 101 of 253 comments”. Huh? Does the 253 refer to top level posts? Does the 253 mean that I’m looking at a page with 200 comments and there are 253 more to see? The meaning of the numbering is not immediately clear and therefore becomes irrelevant. Digg’s founders keep promising changes in the comment system and other changes to the site but this has been going on for months now with no end in sight.

Going back to the issue of Digg’s most recent design changes, I have to say that it seems to be no improvement at all over what they had 18 months ago. There’s still no picture section, the design is getting more blocky, and now the front page is suffering from longer load times. Digg needs to be fast, clean and simple. Simplicity has always been the key to Digg. Keep the site lightweight, make it easy to contribute. That’s all.

My profile. Why can’t I select how many items I see on one page at a time? It’s still impossible to view each story I’ve dugg at once. Instead I’m forced to go one page at a time with 15 items per page. I tried to write a script using Digg’s API to do this but they limit the results you can pull there too.

Friends. I’m sure plenty of people enjoy the Friends section of Digg but being a rebel I really don’t give a shit about what story someone else has dugg. I’m sure it has it’s pluses but I go to Digg to explore, not to be lead around.

And don’t even get me started on Digg’s search.

Finally, the simple pagination class

In the years that I’ve been a web developer, I have written very few OOP PHP scripts. I just haven’t had the need to, and to be honest the whole OOP concept seemed like something I didn’t need to bother with. Why do I need to write a script in an object-oriented style and how will it help me? I had seen examples and read tutorials about OOP (some horribly bad and some really good) but never had any desire to try it myself until one day when I was working on a couple of different projects that both needed the same thing, pagination.

Pagination just means numbering pages. In the project that I was working on, I was retrieving large amounts of data from a MySQL database and realized that I would have to break the data up into pages for two main reasons, 1) there was so much data that it could hang the browser when it was loading and 2) from a user perspective (we still care about that right?) it was unruly to say the least. If I was returning 50,000 rows from a database query, I knew that I would need to slice that up into more manageable chunks. Now in the past, I had written basic pagination functions to handle this type of issue and sometimes copied and pasted functions from older scripts to cut down on development time, fixing and re-coding where necessary. But I realized that for this new project I could try to write a pagination class that I would be able to just plug into any script and have it do the pagination for me. I could write a pagination class that I could use for my projects and future projects, and learn OOP in the process. I love killing two birds with one stone.
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