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Seems functional at first, but none of the links work and that big sidebar at the left won’t go away! reddit in late April 2018 without scripts.

Sometime in mid-April 2018, Reddit joined the crowd of sites which don’t work without Javascript. Its pages do not appear blank, but none of the links work, and the start of each line in the main part of the page is covered by an almost completely empty column at the left which cannot be removed.

A number of blog hosts have joined this trend recently. Here is Confessions of a Community College Dean at https://suburbdad.blogspot.co.at/

Confessions of a Community College Dean without scripts, Note how the body text overlaps the sidebar rather than wrapping at the end of the column. Long paragraphs extend outside the browser window entirely so that only the first 100 or so characters are visible.


Other sites appear completely blank without scripts. SquareSpace is especially egregious. Here is the blog of Aurora Simmons, a Toronto jeweller, with scripts disabled (http://www.handmaderevolution.org/blog/):

http://www.handmaderevolution.org/blog/ with scripts disabled: an ocean of whitespace and grey text with no blog visible at all

“The white space, the white space! It burns us precious!” And where are the words?

As you can see, there is no blog there for those of us who block scripts!

Reddit is very popular, and it sets many people’s expectations for a ‘mostly text’ site, so even though I do not use it much, I am very concerned.

I am sure we all know why it is important that a text-and-pictures site works without scripting, but just a reminder!

– Downloading all of those scripts wastes bandwidth (ie. your time and your money). Not everyone lives in a big city and has a high-speed Internet connection.
– Scripts threaten your security and privacy. Remember Flash bugs? It is easy to write Javascript which tracks everything you do in the browser: all the buttons you move your mouse over, all the things you type into a form then decide not to send, the wrong files you almost upload. Data brokers like Facebook rely on scripts to track you across the web and while you are logged out. Many advertising companies allow clients to put scripts in their adds, so all it takes is one ad containing a bad script to infect you.
– Accessibility tools for people with disabilities often have trouble reading things generated by scripts
– The spiders and crawlers which search engines use to index your site and help people find your stuff usually browse the raw code not the version after all the scripts have loaded.
– HTML and CSS are quick to write and easy to maintain. Plenty of sites from the 1990s work as well as they ever did even if nobody has updated them in 10 years!
– HTML and CSS will be legible forever, whereas scripts have a short half-life and require recoding as standards change. Remember when there were whole sites coded in Adobe Flash?
– Using a bunch of third-party scripts that you don’t understand to write simple HTML and CSS is ugly. Good engineering is simple and direct.

Javascript certainly has its place: interactive sites and anything to do with finance. But if people can’t see the main content of your site without enabling a dozen libraries, you are excluding many visitors.

One reason why my home on the web is here is that I have a reasonable level of control over how my site is built. When my PhD is done, I will create another site in plain HTML and CSS for long-term projects like Armour in Texts and Fashion in the Age of Datini. And I do not link to things which appear blank without scripts.

Further Reading: Maciej Ceglowski, “The Website Obesity Crisis”