Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Clean ‘News’

638 words

I am a no fun person. And, as a consequence, I mostly abhor images on the web or in the news. In fact, I think I developed a bit of image-blindness which just prevents me from ‘seeing’ the images that are used in newspapers or on the web (Thanks to Will for the link which suggests that image-blindness isn’t a personal quirk only). The reason for that is that the images used mostly contain exactly no relevant information. At least none I’d care for. Most of them seem just to be there because they ‘have’ to use images or to catch the attention which is not deserved by the content. Fluff-pieces.

The absolute curse of German online media is Spiegel Online, the online sibling of the (formerly) reputable Spiegel magazine. They have been relatively fast to get on the internet, they are fast at picking up stories, and as everybody with a spare minute in his office seems to be perusing the site, you just have to do the same to know what everybody else is speaking about.

A while ago the site had a redesign which - from my point of view - was quite flawed in a number of places which made it prettier, perhaps, but at the same time harder to read because they introduced extra columns in their overview sections which made things much harder to parse (just as the ‘new’/current Guardian design remains flawed in that respect as it’s quite an effort to actually find anything on their start page). Interestingly, that flaw was fixed by Spiegel Online after some weeks in a small steps.

Other flaws of the site remain that they started having numerous ‘hot’ topics at the top before the regular content comes. One or two are all right with me if there are topics which are actually current and important. But they just run half a dozen of such topics regularly, many of which are of hardly any relevance at all. Another annoyance is how they seem to randomly (?) shuffle the order of the sections a little to disorient me and how they always mix the sections I negatively don’t care for among the ones I might be interested in. I will just not read the car or sports section. And even less the ‘panorama’ yellow-press section which they usually seem to run first. Usually their page looks like this:

Spiegel Online the way it normally looks

As all that kept really annoying me, I decided to fix it. And luckily they seem to care more for their HTML than their journalism. Which means the page is reasonably well structured and equipped with plenty of classes in the markup.

Adding a few lines to my custom CSS file which is used by Safari (a nice and quite likely underadvertised feature of the browser’s Advanced preferences that lets you beat sense into web pages, hide notorious ads or highlight links to your own site with very little effort), resolved the problem for me.

div.spArticleImageBox, div.spMultimediaLeiste, div.spForumBoxBig, div.spRessortTeaserBox.panorama, div.spRessortTeaserBox.sport, div.spRessortTeaserBox.einestages, div.spRessortTeaserBox.auto, div.spRessortTeaserBox.reise, div.spRessortTeaserBox.spam {

I am sure things could be done in a much more sophisticated way with a bit of effort. But hooray for CSS fiddling which gives me this result with less distractions and less nonsense in next to no time. It may also allow me to judge the actual content of the site more neutrally when I’m not distracted by all the visual noise.

Spiegel Online page cleaned up

Let’s hope that such techniques won’t become too popular. As publishers don’t seem to be too keen on their readers choosing what they read themselves, this could quickly lead to nasty !important wars (I second Jon on his thoughts on this - it’s a war I want to win) or JavaScript battles to make sure the ‘correct’ display properties are set.

January 29, 2008, 0:09


Comment by Biappi: User icon

What’s funny to me is that they have a “div.spRessortTeaserBox.spam” class :)

January 29, 2008, 5:09

Comment by ssp: User icon

Admittedly the column that refers to is called ‘SPAM’ and some sort of satirical thing. Still very appropriate for the internet.

January 29, 2008, 6:36

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