If I'm using my mobile to access the site, I have some difficulty.

First I couldn't log in because the OpenID buttons don't appear. I got around that by sending myself my OpenID string from elsewhere and then I could use it to log in.

But now I find that the "I'm a human" thing doesn't appear, so I can't post a comment.

I imagine it's just because my mobile is old and doesn't support JavaScript, but I think it would be really handy to sort some of these things out. I don't have this kind of trouble on ExpertSexchange... ;)

Rob

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Do you really plan to answer programming questions on a mobile? –  Tyler Carter Aug 7 '09 at 0:56
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What phone do you have? I think all the 'next gen' phones (iPhone, Chrome, WebOS) fully support SO's JavaScript –  Kyle Cronin Aug 7 '09 at 1:12
    
Yup, it's old. And it's more about responding to comments that I want to do on my WM2003 phone. I'll upgrade at some point, but I also know plenty of people who prefer not to allow JavaScript. –  Rob Farley Aug 7 '09 at 1:13
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People who prefer to disallow JavaScript are also the kooks that sit at home with tinfoil hats. If you don't want to use new technology, or upgrade your devices so that you can use them, then don't complain when that Blue Ray disk you purchased isn't playing in your VHS player. Full functionality shouldn't be necessary on a mobile phone anyways, doing such encourages short and terrible answers. Also you don't get captchas from posting comments. –  Ian Elliott Aug 7 '09 at 1:21
    
I still say that it is going to be really hard to type PHP or SQL statements on a mobile phone. –  Tyler Carter Aug 7 '09 at 1:22
    
I'm not trying to type long SQL statements, but it does help to be able to reassure users who ask for a bit of clarification on an answer or something. And there are also those times when I'm in an airport or something and jumping onto a terminal that doesn't have JavaScript enabled, etc... –  Rob Farley Aug 7 '09 at 1:26
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No one needs to be able to access a fully functioning version of StackOverflow all of the time. It is just not necessary. If you are in an airport, you should be worrying about other things beside StackOverflow. –  jjnguy Aug 7 '09 at 2:07
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@jinguy: If you're in an airport, you're likely standing or sitting around and being bored. Current practice in the US is to arrive hours before the flight. There's no reason not to surf SO. –  David Thornley Aug 7 '09 at 17:05
    
Have you tried Opera Mini? :) –  badp Jul 25 '10 at 21:59
    
@badp Nowasdays I have a new mobile and it's not an issue for me - but the question of "no Javascript" continues to be a problem for many, I'm sure. Using other browsers only solves it for some. –  Rob Farley Jul 26 '10 at 2:01
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@Rob, Opera Mini does Javascript on the server side, effectively solving the problem for all supported mobiles (which includes [ ancient phones](opera.com/bitmaps/products/mini/db/img/nokia3585.jpg)). –  badp Jul 26 '10 at 9:21
    
Oh, nice. I would try it if my old phone still worked. Thanks. –  Rob Farley Jul 27 '10 at 0:06
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think it's worth the SO team putting lots of development time into a pretty niche segment of the userbase (namely those who want to browse SO on an "old" mobile). I think their time it better spent concentrating on the normal browser experience.

Having said that, I'd like to disagree with those who have basically said that there's no point in using SO on a mobile at all. While I haven't posted very many new answers from a phone (a few, admittedly) I've made various corrections to answers, and more importantly I've added comments from my phone.

It's all about "tending" your answers. If someone has asked for clarification, it can be very useful to leave a quick comment as soon as possible. On a decent phone (I use an Android G1) that's not difficult at all, and has a significant benefit IMO.

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Someone is advertising Google stuff here. I can smell him... –  Ladybug Killer Aug 7 '09 at 6:52
    
I agree, The trio of sites look great on the iPhone and I have no major problems looking through the site. Mobile should not be ignored, but jon is right. The focus should be the normal browsing experience. –  Troggy Aug 7 '09 at 7:04
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@John: I happen to like the G1's keyboard - I'm not keen on the G2 for instance, because it's an on-screen keyboard. Others seem to get on with them, but I prefer physical keys. That's why I prefer the G1 over the iPhone too. –  Jon Skeet Aug 7 '09 at 7:17
    
@Jon: Lousy excuses. You can't squirm free anymore :] –  Ladybug Killer Aug 7 '09 at 7:22
    
I know I need to get a decent phone some time soon. I had thought I had my ability to post comments sorted, until I came across the 'human test'. If the image had've appeared, I would've been fine. –  Rob Farley Aug 7 '09 at 7:57
    
People using "old" mobiles maybe a niche when you look at stackoverflow or superuser. But not everybody is a gadget nerd and I don't know about those stamp collectors? –  innaM Aug 7 '09 at 10:37
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@Manni: In that case the StackExchange team should be looking at it instead ;) Seriously though - how many people with old mobiles really use the web browser regularly? I'm sure the use of web browsers on mobiles goes up massively when you use a decent browser (and 3G). –  Jon Skeet Aug 7 '09 at 10:43
    
I have no idea about the numbers. But I consider Opera Mini a decent browser and you don't need to spend much to get a 3g phone these days. –  innaM Aug 7 '09 at 10:58
    
I answer questions from my iPad 90% of the time. The only missing feature is formatting. Supporting Safari will be enought as other website editors work perfecly. –  user150926 Sep 5 '10 at 21:41
    
@LadybugKiller yes, you –  ajax333221 Sep 23 '12 at 3:09
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I don't know why people get that upset about this rather innocent request. If Joel and Jeff want to make some money with Stack Exchange, they should maximize the number of hits their customers get. Why not streamline hits from mobiles?

I also don't understand how mentioning that you are not using an Android or iPhone makes you some kind stone-age pervert. Or why it should be a bad thing to browse SO from an airport while you have to wait endlessly for that stupid plane to arrive (jjnguy: what should one possibly worry about while at an airport, the epitome of boredom? Terrorism?).

I for one often use my mobile (a stinky, stone-age, neither Google nor Apple SonyEricsson w890i) to browse SO et al using Opera Mini. There! I said it! No reason to shoot me.

Now, get this: this actually works pretty good! No, I don't write answers and I don't even comment because it would take me hours to hack out two meaningful sentences, but so what?

  • Logging in is quite a pain, but I blame! that! one! on! Yahoo!
  • I don't know whether this is Opera or Attwood magic, but the lacking JS is hardly noticealbe.
  • The interface could use a few submit buttons here and there. E.g. search is not usable because I can't get Opera to submit my input.

So I suggest that somebody takes a look at the issue the OP is having with comments. Won't hurt anyobdy and my guess is that it's easily fixed.

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The question is whether it's worth the work it would take. Anybody interested in one of these sites will almost certainly have a computer with an internet connection and a Javascript-capable browser. How useful would it be to the users as a whole to allow access from old phones? –  David Thornley Aug 7 '09 at 17:03
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now that the software of SO is used for other things too the trouble with mobile phones without JavaScript support becomes more important, or at least I think so. Would it be possible to add a different kind of validation which does not require JS? Note that even an offline CAPTCHA together with a link generated on-the-fly would be ok.

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see stackapps.com/?tab=apps for mobile apps (read only though) –  Jeff Atwood Jul 26 '10 at 3:41
    
cool, I must try it even if just readonly. The standard page was barely readable, but very hungry in resources. –  mau Jul 26 '10 at 10:07
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