Is all of this k3wl AJAX really needed? What really gets me is comments. Surely, surely, surely, the comment text is small and the show comments could just unhide the HTML, or insert the text from an embedded string. At the moment, there is a pointless, irritating wait whilst a server round-trip is performed. It takes more than 50-100 ms and is therefore evil.

(Just don't get me on the subject of Slashdot, Twitter, etc., retarded and unreliable AJAX.)

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4 Answers

I agree the comments functionality does need looking at, I dont mind the ajax however instead of the response being table markup they should be using json and client side templates. I just did a quick sample and the showing of 6 comments requested 2k of gzipped table markup taking 296ms. Way too long.

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Tables? In my Stack Overflow? (It's more likely then you think.) –  MiffTheFox Jul 11 '09 at 7:09
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  1. The point is not saving of bandwidth but saving of your brain.

    There is no reason to show more than 5 comments; if you feel a comment deep in the comment list should be shown, then vote it up, and it will be shown.

    It's the same theory as the rest of SO: the best content goes to the top, so you never have to read more than a page (in this case, a page is 5 comments). And if you want to read more than 5 comments, then invoke the pagination.

  2. very few posts have more than 5 comments, anyway.

EDIT: I increased the threshold to 15 visible comments for meta.

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1. It's frying my brain having to deal with this crap. 2. Then it doesn't matter if they were all downloaded anyway, from the SO server side of things. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jun 29 '09 at 0:49
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If waiting 100ms for content to load is 'frying your brain', I can hardly imagine the pain you go through on a daily basis... –  Ian Elliott Jun 30 '09 at 3:18
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the problem with showing only the top 5 upvoted comments is that comments tend to be conversational - so the summary listing often does not make sense –  Steven A. Lowe Jul 11 '09 at 7:57
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I like the new comment system - it shows the first few comments (or the most voted ones), then AJAXily loads the rest when you click (which I've never seen take more than a second).

Yeh, a few comments probably don't take many bytes, but some posts have many comments (most in June 09 was 107), and each page has multiple posts each with it's own comment thread.. It could add up to a fairly considerable size (especially when multiplied again by the number of questions and views!)..

As for the rest, I think SO has implemented "AJAX" really unobtrusively, especially compared to the likes of Twitter, where even pagination is done via AJAX ("because we can" being the only obvious reason!)

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I would suggest that their bandwidth suppression measures would disagree...

I would say that, if their stats show the first comment unhide corresponds to high probability of many unhides on the same page (or subsequent pages) that they should send all comments in one go on the first request.

That said this will mean that, on fast moving new questions the comments would stand a good chance of not being up to date and thus have considerable duplication which is better represented by up/down vots on a single comment (even if only for machine comprehension semantics...)

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Oh come off it. It's a small amount of text compared to the rest of the page and consider the overhead of dealing with an extra HTTP request. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jun 29 '09 at 0:36
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Quite frankly, I'd be prepared to pay the bandwidth costs with my own money. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Jun 29 '09 at 0:36
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