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ESPN.com / March (information) madness

To the edi­tors of ESPN.com,I vis­it your site every day, mul­ti­ple times a day. Today, I decid­ed that I've had enough. You need to stop. What­ev­er you're doing, just STOP. Years ago, ESPN.com was a use­ful col­lec­tion of online sports infor­ma­tion. It was rel­a­tive­ly easy to nav­i­gate, scan and read. Today, it is a dark, sprawl­ing infor­ma­tion apoc­a­lypse — the Blade Run­ner cityscape of web­sites. Remem­ber that ear­ly scene in Blade Run­ner, where Deckard is read­ing the news­pa­per while the ad blimp cir­cles over­head, repeat­ing the words: "A new life awaits you in the Off-World colonies"? That's how I feel when I'm read­ing ESPN.com. The bar­rage of ads, news, tick­ers, scrolling con­tent wid­gets, opin­ion, com­men­tary, analy­sis, what­ev­er it is that Scoop Jack­son writes, and teasers for upcom­ing events on your cable net­work is an absolute mess, the kind of mess that makes CNBC seem Tufte-esque in com­par­i­son.

The ultimate dog's breakfast

Where did you go wrong? Years ago, you plas­tered that huge ban­ner ad across the top. This was annoy­ing, but plen­ty of sites (used to) do this and I learned to ignore it. Then there was ESPN Motion — or, as a friend refers to it "ESPN Suck-tion." It's a video play­er that peri­od­i­cal­ly demands that you stop read­ing to deal with a video ad or Sports­Cen­ter clip it has just begun broad­cast­ing. Over time, you added more and more flash­es and dis­trac­tions — anoth­er ban­ner ad above the con­tent, two lev­els of tab nav­i­ga­tion, mul­ti­ple areas of peri­od­i­cal­ly refresh­ing con­tent, and links in the mast­head (!). Final­ly, you mod­i­fied your pop-up ads so that they defy pop-up block­ing soft­ware (most of it, any­way). I have to ask: DO YOU REALIZE THAT THEY ONLY OTHER WEBSITES THAT DO THIS ARE SELLING EITHER PIRATED SOFTWARE OR PORN? Did you guys raid Asta­lav­ista to hire your cur­rent online prod­uct man­ag­er? Actu­al­ly, maybe it was MySpace or Col­lege­Hu­mor. To be fair to Col­lege­Hu­mor, though, it could teach ESPN some things about lay­out and navigation.Now, for any­one out there who wants to take the first step toward mak­ing ESPN read­able again, I sug­gest the fol­low­ing:

  1. Down­load and install Fire­fox.
  2. Install the Adblock add-on
  3. Restart Fire­fox, and sub­scribe to the first item in the Adblock list of fil­ters
  4. Nav­i­gate to ESPN.com, observe that all ads have been removed. As the Sports­Cen­ter anchors would say, "Vic­to-ree!"

To the edi­tors of ESPN.com, I sim­ply request that you (a) kill the pop-up ads, (b) tear the home­page apart (and re-assem­ble it with the idea that it should facil­i­tate access to con­tent, rather than pre­vent it), © take a look at what the NYT has been up to in terms of inte­grat­ing tex­tu­al and mul­ti­me­dia con­tent, and (d) don't try to cram every con­ceiv­able prod­uct onto every page. Sim­ple, right?

One reply on “ESPN.com / March (information) madness”

[…] ESPN.com’s march (infor­ma­tion) mad­ness “To the edi­tors of ESPN.com, I sim­ply request that you (a) kill the pop-up ads, (b) tear the home page apart, © take a look at what the NYT has been up to in terms of inte­grat­ing tex­tu­al and mul­ti­me­dia con­tent, and (d) don’t try to cram every con­ceiv­able prod­uct onto the home­page.” […]