Websites that Fail without JavaScript

created on May 17, 2018 and updated over time

Blank page : http://cpj.org/2018/06/independent-music-journalist-zachary-stoner-killed.php

In April 2018, I installed the uMatrix web browser extension for Chrome. I tried uBlock Origin earlier this year, but it seemed harder to use. I might try it again, but for now, I'm fine with uMatrix.

For a couple years or so, I have been using the Chrome web browser extension called Quick JavaScript Switcher, which provides a one-click method in the URL bar to disable and enable JavaScript.

In 2018, I noticed more websites that are meant for readers fail to display any content with JavaScript disabled.

Some websites display text content without JavaScript, but for some moronic reason, the websites may not display images without JavaScript.

Most of the websites that fail without JavaScript (for readers, not logged-in users) are NOT single page applications. A view-source of the page shows the HTML content. But for yet another moronic reason, some websites require JavaScript to display the content. In the Lynx web browser, however, I can read the content for these websites. Wacky.

These publishers, programmers, and designers contribute to the ruination of the open web.

The reasons for disabling JavaScript include:

Some simple web pages require 3 to 8 megabytes of crapware to be downloaded. Older computers with less RAM and slower CPUs will get bogged down with too many bloated website browser tabs open.

Not all users want to upgrade their desktop and laptop computers every couple years. Same for mobile devices.

Our iPad 4 or whatever it's called is several years old, and it works fine. My old iPhone 5c still works fine, except that it's being obsolete by websites.

Apparently, no features in client-side JavaScript exist that are being used by some websites today, and that functionality is not supported by my old Safari web browser on my iPhone. This horrible design, but that's okay. It means that I don't need to READ those websites.

While bloated, crapball, wretched web design increases in popularity, especially among professional publishers, another trend exists too, although small, where some personal publishers use static site generators to create fast-loading, simple websites that require readers to use little to no JavaScript. And with JavaScript disabled, these sites continue to work well. The only JavaScript used may be related to Google analytics.

JavaScript is fine for logged-in users who need to perform work at their admin consoles or dashboards. When I log into a web app, then I expect JavaScript functionality that improves my user experience.

But for readers when the content is mainly text, available on the open web, then I see no point in requiring readers to use JavaScript.

Personal publisher growth (blogosphere?) may be the key to preserving the simple, open web that uses primarily HTML with some CSS and little to no JavaScript.

I'll list websites that I encounter in my regular web travels that fail in some manner without JavaScript. While some sites could provide a login mechanism for subscribers or something like that, these sites also cater to browsing-only users.

I'm not going to include web apps or web services that require logging in to perform private actions, such as tax prep sites, banking sites, shopping sites, CMS consoles, internal corporate websites, etc.

I also use the web browser extension called Privacy Badger, which may also prohibit some content from displaying.

Failures

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/xwmzpd/facebook-is-banning-undocumented-immigrants-from-buying-political-ads

https://www.cjr.org - only an orange bar is displayed at the top of the site.

https://axios.com - images display without JavaScript. parts of longer articles display, but the method that permits users to read all of the articles requires JavaScript. to access the permalink that would display all of the content also requires JavaScript. bizarre.

http://scripting.com - only displays a small amount of header-like text. no article content is displayed, which is stunning and disappointing, considering that Dave Winer has been blogging for about 25 years. but DW loves JavaScript on the server and in the browser. That's fine, but he is clearly an example of using JavaScript for the sake of JavaScript's existence, instead of using JavaScript to solve problems or improve the reader user experience. what's also disturbing that when I view DW's website on my old iPhone WITH JAVASCRIPT ENABLED, the site still fails. apparently, DW is using new JS functionality not supported by my old Safari web browser. but I can read scripting.com with the Lynx web browser. clearly, DW has never tested his website with JavaScript disabled, which is strange designer/development behavior. to view DW's content on a laptop/desktop computer with the latest version of Chrome, I have to enable JavaScript and disable Privacy Badger. jeesh.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fbi-agents-said-to-be-probing-michael-cohens-deal-with-korean-firm/2018/05/16/080cb6b4-5933-11e8-b656-a5f8c2a9295d_story.html - JavaScript is needed to display images, otherwise the images are blurred. but this does not occur all of the time. this WaPo article displays an image without JS.

politico.com - a spring 2018 website change made the site display a blank page when javascript is disabled. the site, however, can be read with the Lynx web browser, but the politico displays nothing in Chrome.

pinterest displays a blank screen, which is okay. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417920040397144825/ - a blank screen is better than their wretched web design.

seattletimes.com - article page = blank screen - https://www.seattletimes.com/business/a-simple-flip-phone-is-the-new-protest-statement

https://www.verizonwireless.com/basic-phones/lg-exalt-lte - blank screen even with javascript enabled. the umatrix extension is blocking something.

https://news.vice.com/en_us displays a blank page. the main www.vice.com site displays content, and articles with www.vice.com display content too, but not articles under news.vice.com.

https://blockclubchicago.org/2018/06/12/how-west-loop-residents-are-bringing-life-to-vacant-lots/ - JavaScript is required to see the full article. Why? For one reason, the site is a single page application or a JavaScript app. The content is fetched from the server by client-side JavaScript. Okay, now I'm confused. A view-source of the article page shows that the content does not exist in the HTML page downloaded by the browser. But the content displays in the Lynx web browser. For a media site, the page is not horribly bloated, which is surprising. webpagetest.org results. "Only" 93 kb of JavaScript.

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2018/06/14/Post-Gazetteeditorial-cartoonist-Rob-Rogers/stories/201806140152 - Without JavaScript, only the banner and horizontal navigation links are displayed. No content. Rest of the page is blank. Even though Block Communications owns the Post-Gazette and the Blade, the PG website is much worse from a design perspective than the Blade. The PG story above contains one image, I think, but the page is bloated. 3.5 megabyte download. 1.9 megabytes were for JavaScript.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-ministry/trump-sets-50-billion-in-china-tariffs-with-beijing-ready-to-strike-back-idUSKBN1JB0KC - JavaScript is required to display embedded images properly. Without JavaScript, the images are blurred to an unrecognizable state.

https://magazine.atavist.com - blank content. without javascript, only a few grey-ish bars appear. hilarious that the docs section is 100 percent blank. https://docs.atavist.com.


"How a small Alabama paper grew its digital ad revenue in 2017 from $56k to $104k with mobile video reporting and by filming sports on Facebook Live"

https://mediagazer.com/180716/p3#a180716p3

http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/07/in-alabama-a-small-town-paper-is-figuring-out-digital-advertising-and-theyre-doing-it-live/

In Alabama, a small-town paper is figuring out digital advertising — and they’re doing it live

A bet on live video, a busy news year, and maximizing staff talents let the Alexander City Outlook increase its digital ad revenue 80 percent in a year’s time.

Alexander City is a town of 14,773 people. While in many respects “Alex” City is just another small town outside of the more metropolitan city of Montgomery, the town newspaper, with a staff of three full-time reporters plus a managing editor, is anything but.

Here's the website:

https://www.alexcityoutlook.com

With JavaScript disabled, Privacy Badger enabled, and uMatrix enabled, some pages load text content while others, including the homepage, produce the following, which I have not seen anywhere else.

Same thing occurs when using the w3m web browser and the Tor browser. Here's a w3m screenshot.

The text states:

As you were browsing www.alexcityoutlook.com something about your browser made us think you were a bot. There are a few reasons this might happen:

  • You're a power user moving through this website with super-human speed.
  • You've disabled JavaScript in your web browser.
  • A third-party browser plugin, such as Ghostery or NoScript, is preventing JavaScript from running.

To request an unblock, please fill out the form below and we will review it as soon as possible.

WTF? The form requests first name, last name, and email address.

alexcityoutlook.com is using the services of https://www.distilnetworks.com, which states:

Bot Defense as Adaptable and Vigilant as the Threat Itself

Prevent Web Scraping, Account Takeover, and Fraud

That might be the future. As a browsing-only web reader, I disable JavaScript for security and privacy reasons. I disable JavaScript for a faster web experience, provided that the website degrades gracefully by using progressive enhancement or simple HTML and CSS.

A user who prefers small, lightweight, pleasing websites that don't abuse readers with megatons of crapware is now considered a bot that might be engaged in fraud.

This makes me root for Facebook, which I don't use.

This page, however, loaded okay when using the Chrome browser security and privacy settings that I prefer.

https://www.alexcityoutlook.com/2018/07/09/no-cause-yet-in-outlook-editors-fatal-accident

The article about the unfortunate accident to the paper's editor is an all-text article, containing 200 words. The only related image was a small photo of the author of the article.

The article's title, byline, date and time, and body totaled 207 words. Yet ...

https://www.webpagetest.org/result/180716_3T_07befec59b196663172a605bd43701a3/

https://www.alexcityoutlook.com/2018/07/09/no-cause-yet-in-outlook-editors-fatal-accident/
From: Dulles, VA - Thinkpad T430 - Chrome - Cable
7/16/2018, 12:29:48 PM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 25.346s
Requests: 506
Bytes in: 5,341 KB

And people wonder why some of us web readers prefer to read the web with JavaScript disabled.

By focusing on security and a better web, alexcityoutlook.com uses a service that considers my actions to be fraudulent.

But alexcityoutlook.com requires web readers to make over 500 requests to download over 5 megabytes of bloatware to read a 200-word article.

alexcityoutlook.com should be flagged for security, privacy, and fraud reasons.

Of the 5.3 megabytes required to read 200 words, about 2.3 megabytes were for JavaScript. ???????? Why is this happening ??????????

That's the media's war on the web. That's the media's lack of empathy. But alexcityoutlook.com is relying on digital ads to fund its business.

128 requests were for JavaScript.

My version of the article. Same content.

http://sora.soupmode.com/no-cause-yet-in-outlook-editors-fatal-accident.html

https://www.webpagetest.org/result/180716_M6_7b777d910b0d484e5596f91a70548f77/

sora.soupmode.com/no-cause-yet-in-outlook-editors-fatal-accident.html
From: Dulles, VA - Thinkpad T430 - Chrome - Cable
7/16/2018, 12:57:56 PM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 0.280 seconds
Requests: 3
Bytes in: 4 KB

That's the kind of web reading experience that I want. If an image gallery or a video exists, then media orgs should not embed all of that heavy content within the page.

Media orgs should simply provide links to the images and videos. Let the choice be up to the readers. That way readers on older CPUs or slow internet connections can at least see the article text quickly before deciding whether it's a good time to view the video or the photos.

I would try to run the media org by NOT displaying any digital ads and relying on subscriptions and using a hard paywall, 100 percent of the time on the website. The title and the first paragraph for an article would all that would be displayed to non-subscribers.

Something like this that's similar to https://text.npr.org, but images can and should be used politely.

http://wren.soupmode.com/tg


Jul 27, 2018

While reading this HN thread about ActivityPub, I saw this website mentioned.

https://nl.movim.eu/?node/pubsub.movim.eu/Movim

At the top of that website, the following message was displayed.

You don't have javascript enabled. Good luck with that.

Hah! That's funny. That's the best message that I have seen yet about not having Javascript enabled.

Of course, my not using JavaScript to READ web pages is supreme skill and not luck. This week, I started using the Links web browser in graphics mode on my Linux desktop computer. Man, it's fast. Websites are extremely fast with a broadband internet connection. This proves that moron at The Verge wrong when he blamed web browsers for a slow web experience.

Nope. Websites that are meant to be read are unnecessarily bloated to obscene levels. That's why the web experience is slow, clunky, and obnoxious on all devices.

The Links web browser came out in the late 1990s. The Lynx web browser began in the early 1990s, and that's the text-based browser that I have the most experience with. But Links can operate in text mode too. Recently, I have been using the w3m text browser too.

I may like Links in graphics mode as well as and possibly better than the NetSurf web browser. Graphics mode Links has the ability to display images.

This week, I modified my uMatrix browser extension settings. I use this extension in the Chrome web browser. By default, I have everything disabled when I visit a website. That's image displays, JavaScript, and CSS. The pages are displayed like http://motherfuckingwebsite.com. They look similar to what's displayed in graphics mode Links, which was the point. But then I have the option to enable certain functionality within uMatrix on a site by site basis, which I do.

I don't want to download the JavaScript bilge from websites that I am visiting for the first time. That's skillful web surfing.

With my uMatrix settings cranked up, I can now read the Politico website within the Chrome browser.

If the sites are focused on content, then they won't mind if I remove all their useless, bloated styling, which makes the "modern" web more usable.

October 2018

I encounter websites everyday that fail to display text content without JavaScript, but I don't mention them here. Too many.

But today, Oct 15, 2018, I noticed what might be a new web design by the Toledo Blade newspaper website. If this is a new, forthcoming web design, it fails to display content without JavaScript. And simple article pages are still horribly bloated.

Some Blade pages display the old look from around 2015, and some pages use the new look. URLs that end with ?abnpageversion=evoke display the new look. I assume that it's new.

https://www.toledoblade.com/local/politics/2018/10/14/rachel-crooks-ohio-house-of-representatives-bill-reineke-election/stories/20181011140?abnpageversion=evoke

https://www.webpagetest.org/result/181015_ZC_ced33c0ee9901c6fa6325491ee51245d/

From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
10/15/2018, 12:02:47 PM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 14.928 seconds
Requests: 389
Bytes in: 3,736 KB

1.4 megabytes of the download were for JavaScript.

1.5 megabytes of the download were for images.

It takes my web browser a lot longer than 15 seconds to load a page completely, and I'm using a fast internet connection.

The article contains three related images of the political candidate. The contained 1200 words. A 3.7 mb download is obscene. Horrendous web design.

With uMatrix cranked up, the page displays no article text. Navigation links were displayed. Also, a PG image was displayed.

Block Communications owns the Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspapers. I know that the PG website is horribly bloated, and it fails to display text when JavaScript is disabled.

It seems that the Blade has migrated its content to the same obnoxious CMS as the PG. Ain't no way in hell now I would ever subscribe to the Toledo Blade. At least with the 2015 CMS, the Blade articles still display without JavaScript. But now, the Blade has crossed over into useless territory.