Labour Party Website Banned From Internet Search [updated]

If you're a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.

A couple of days ago I was intrigued to see a piece on Skwawkbox about possible blocking of Labour Party pages from internet search engines due to the inclusion of the noindex and nofollow meta tags which effectively blocks search engines from indexing that page’s content making it seem invisible to the web. These tags exist solely for that purpose.

labour-code-source-extract_1338x166
Above: An extract of the source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review. The complete source can viewed at the page itself or here.

The content on the Labour website is part of The Labour Party Democracy Review and is an open invitation directed at Labour Party members to participate in the future of the political party

“If you’re a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.”

Therefore its exclusion from internet searches is to the obvious detriment of possible change. It could also be said that any such restriction could be considered a direct attack on Jeremy Corbyn himself and his desire for inclusivity.

As it concerned what I thought at the time to be no more than a misplaced meta tag, possibly the result of a sloppy cut and paste operation by some inexperienced intern, it didn’t concern me as anything overtly sinister.

However that was a couple of days ago and despite a number of contacts made to certain individuals, departments and businesses with responsibility for such things – both by Skwawkbox and domestic empire, the offending search-restrictive content remains conspicuously unchanged.

Update: Skwawkbox contact with Labour HQ.

Labour’s HQ confirmed that the tag was not accidental and referred to emails that had been sent to members with a link to provide their input to the review – but this begs the question of why bother putting the page on the site at all if you’re going to hide it?

Now the situation has become murkier with confirmation to this blog by a leader’s office (LOTO) source that neither Corbyn nor his office had given approval for the noindex measure:

“We absolutely did not sanction that tag or anything else that would limit the number of people participating. On the contrary, we want input from as many people as possible so we get the benefit of everyone’s perspective.”

Although strangely absent from their portfolio the company responsible for creating the Labour Party website is Wide Eye Creative, based in Washington USA:

“..purpose-driven creative digital agency that empowers organizations, campaigns, and causes.”

I contacted them and its man in charge Ben Ostrower altering them both to this error in markup that was resulting in a negative impact for their client. Two days later I’m still awaiting their reply and removal of said meta tag. But regrettably they seem more interested in discussing Star Wars and somewhat ironically, Net Neutrality.

Wide Eye Creative & Ben Ostrower tweets

Normally one would expect such coding errors to be fixed immediately upon receipt of notification along with a cheery, ‘Thank you’, for spotting such a glaring error that might have otherwise caused public embarrassment – so why the stalling?

I don’t wish to launch into full conspiracy-mode, but the lack of action surrounding this simple code change, or even to acknowledge its existence is cause for some concern.

At the time of writing the errant meta tags that effectively ban The Labour Party Democracy Review from being seen remain in situ.

Links:
The Labour Party Democracy Review
View source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Download source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Why has Labour HQ blocked Democracy Review page from search engines?
Excl: LOTO – ‘we did not sanction hiding Democracy Review page from search engines’
Google: Block search indexing with ‘noindex’

Updated 18th December 2017: Skwawkbox obtain reply from Labour.
Updated 16th December 2017: to better illustrate source code.

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Flickr Site Crashes. To No One’s Surprise!

And then poor old flickr decided there was nothing else left but to roll over and play dead.

Flickr Crash
source // click image to enlarge

Yes finally under the colossal weight of a incomplete and poorly executed redesign, HTML5 had a meeting with CSS3, jumped into jQuery’s smart new convertible – who’d thoughtfully left the engine running since Monday – and fucked off to the beach.

One has to feel some sympathy for the technical staff at flickr HQ who presumably were forced against their better judgement into rolling out a site that was incomplete and unstable. Just look at their poor solemn faces at Monday’s launch ‘party’.

flickr lanuch party 600x219
source // click image to enlarge

So, despite claims from flickr to be ‘aware of the problem’ and moreover to be ‘fixing it’, the site is now in worse shape one week into the relaunch.

Why Is This Happening?
Flickr’s claim to be ‘listening’ is as erroneous as its ‘Awesome’ relaunch that struck users unannounced on Monday and subsequently brought the entire site to a grinding halt on Thursday. By far one of the biggest problems for all users is pages that take an age to load or do not load at all.

The problem centres around a poorly thought out redesign that attempts to display too many hi-resolution images at one time coupled with a continually scrolling page, so that the process never really catches up with itself leaving partial loading pages with blank placeholders or a completely empty page, or in some cases a page that attempts to reload itself over and over again when scrolled up or down.

New and Improved-Awesome fickr
source // click image to enlarge

As state of the art goes, this is an abject lesson in Unresponsive Web Design, in How Not To Design A Photo Sharing Website, and beggars belief how it ever got rolled out to a mass audience. A rookie mistake if ever their was one and one in which yahoo and flickr are certain to pay heavily in lost users, not to mention their true concern, revenue.

The solution, in technical terms is obvious and straightforward, but regrettably for all concerned it’s one that a stubborn and inflexible new CEO will not allow.

As frustrated and disgruntled users continue to complain in their thousands shareholders ought to be very concerned.

UPDATE: Yahoo Design Chief Quits. ~ Senior vice president of Yahoo’s User Experience Design department, Tim Parsey, has decided to leave the company.

Is This The End for flickr?

I Screwed Up!

updated: 2013/05/29

In the wake of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s disastrous flickr relaunch on Monday (2013/05/20), well over 30,000 complaints – and rising fast – have been received and people leave in droves. Problems over incredibly slow page load times or pages that fail to loading at all. Plus Pro users given a raw deal. Typical comments include…

ricko says: I can’t get my photostream to load, can’t see any photos. My mac just has the spinning ball. What is wrong with you people!!!

Universal Pops says: I can’t find comments people make on my photos. The page provides irrelevant information and no obvious means of accessing what I’m looking for.

wilson hughes says: I hate it! This is not what I have paid for, and not what I want. It is difficult to navigate and visually awful. Change it back, or give me a choice.

Heath McDonald says: Unable to post comments, now get server errors! This was designed by someone who doesn’t know Flickr and isn’t a photographer. What is the benefit of this cropping anyway above showing the set pictures as the were?

Sicco Dierdorp says: Please please pretty please change the cropping of the photo’s on the sets page. The way sets were was one of the main reasons I joined flickr, if it stays like this it will be the one reason I have to leave.

Stewie1980 says: Please Flickr, resize the set cover photos! I choose them for a reason! They all looked attractive and inviting in the square size! Now they are all screwed up! Some of them beyond recognition!

joeldinda says: Set descriptions that actually say things are completely broken. Reduced to one line (except as hover text, near as I can tell), hyperlinks in the text are broken, all html codes are displayed.

I put a lot of effort into some of my set descriptions and really resent this change.

And then there’s the Collections issue. My other stream–mwlguide–is deliberately organized as Collections and Sets into which I’ve put years of effort. You’ve pretty much ruined it.

Witty nickname says: They don’t look too happy. [ img: http://www.flickr.com/photos/schill/8796017076/ ]
It’s launch day and we had no choice and cannot voice our own opinions. Mean Marissa made us change Flickr.

It’s also funny how a number of staff have removed commenting on their photostreams too.

The silence is deafening.

B℮n says: The photos are indeed the focus of the redesign – to the detriment of the entire site. It is now bloatware – so many images, so crowded together that no one image can been seen and appreciated.
There is not a museum out there that tries to fit their entire collection crammed onto one wall… whitespace matters. Images need to breath.
And by cramming all the images “in your face”, the descriptive stories, critques and comments, links, geomapping, camera EXIF data – all the rich content that made you want to learn more and explore more is now completely hidden. The “social” has been completely removed, the richness buried.

Flickr is reduced down to the vomit quality of a google images spew… only with less whitespace.

But likely the biggest problem is the extreme slowness and high bandwidth usage this “new” look imposes… you now wait for 20 seconds or more for a page to load – indeed I often end up with a screen of just grey boxes as the images are simply too big to load with any kind of response time – and I’m on a DSL connection. Those without highspeed connectvity have had to walk away – they can’t even get into their own photostream.
This removes it from the realm of educational use, and now has been removed from the iPad as the bandwidth consumption it too high.

All this was done, without warning, to paying customers. Customers who have long standing paid usage – I’ve only been a payng customer for the past 5 years, so I’m relatively new there… many photographers have 8 or more years invested and thousands of hours.

CEO Marissa Mayer has publicaly said that there are no professional photographers any more… that everyone just shoots and posts from their iPhone. That’s true enough for the 12 photos she’s managed to post in her Flickr stream, but not true for the long standing, serious camera users who carefully tagged and geo-located and enriched their EXIF data to share their learning with others.

Ulterior Motives?
Users have spoken out about the initial beta – or bucket – testing phase during which the proposed makeover came in for severe criticism, but these warnings were ultimately ignored. As it stands, the drastic makeover looks like it was rolled out with little regard as to the widespread disruption is was to cause leaving some commentators wondering just who seeks to gain from the exercise?

The overall impression is of someone having vandalism or hacked the site to cause maximum disruption.

Conspiracy Of Silence
In the fourth day since the changes were forced upon users without warning or updated user guide, the frustration continues, but does anyone at flickr care to listen?
http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/

I Done Has Screwed Up.

UPDATE: Yahoo Design Chief Quits. ~ Senior vice president of Yahoo’s User Experience Design department, Tim Parsey, has decided to leave the company.

Further Reading:
Flickr Staff Ban Consumer Petition
A Brief History of Yahoo Buying and Ruining Things
Flickr Redesign Illicits Massive Negative Response.
RIP “Professional Photographers”
Flickr Update Sparks User Backlash as Thousands Complain
Yahoo faces Flickr backlash
The new Flickr: Goodbye customers, hello ads
Trojan Horse: How Flickr Screwed Me Out of My Pro Account Through a Photo Walk
Flickr Backpedals, Gives All Pro Users the Chance to Renew and Keep Their Benefits
Flickr Bug Turned Private Photos Public for Nearly a Month
The Death of Upcoming.org
The New Flickr Sucks and Here’s Why
Change Flickr Back! (Petition)
You can’t stand out if you’re trying to be like everyone else
Why the ‘New Flickr’ still falls short

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Shows How To Win Friends And Influence People

flickr fail

“There’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”
– Marissa Mayer (May 2013)

Yahoo CEO shows how to win friends and influence people. On the day of the flickr relaunch Marissa Mayer demonstrates her lack of respect.

image source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/8771766514/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/domesticempire/8847825391/