StarTribune.com’s Auto-Refreshing of Pages Sucks

Can anyone explain what value automatically refreshing a page every 10 minutes provides the reader of a news site like StarTribune.com?

StarTribune.com's JavaScript Reload Code

For me, this does not help me and in fact hurts my experience with their site.

1. Sometimes I get distracted by something that needs to be flipped on the grill. When I get back to reading, the page suddenly decides that it needs to refresh. That was not helpful.

2. Sometimes I have more than one tab open at the same time in my browser. Actually, most of the time. At times like that, it’s quite possible that I’ll be reading something in a different tab only to notice the icon for the StarTribune tab spinning in a different tab. You just broke my concentration without providing any value, StarTribune, which makes me hate you.

3. StarTribune uses some of my bandwidth every time they refresh the page so they can push new ads.

4. I often open tabs as I see things than interest me, then work my way through those tabs over time. I’m sure some of the advertisers who’s ads are shown on the StarTribune are paying for those ads on an impression basis. If that’s the case, they’re getting ripped off by paying for ads that are reloading in tabs no human sees.

5. At its worst, I’ve noticed that I’ve left pages of the StarTribune open in my browser for almost a full day. If the StarTribune consistently reloads their pages every 600000 milliseconds (10 minutes) they’re serving a LOT of ads prospective customers don’t see yet advertisers pay for.

But wait! Maybe there is a good reason for refreshing the page. Here is what I’d expect to hear in response: “Sometimes stories change so we want to make sure you’re looking at the most current version of the story.”

My response: Go to search.twitter.com and search for a popular term such as “Obama.” Then wait a few minutes. You’ll see a message near the top of the page like this:

Twitter Search Refresh Option

Pages DO change over time. This is a better way to deal with the issue. Leave it up to the readers to decide whether they’d like to continue reading what’s already in front of them, or click a link to see the latest version.

This is better for readers AND advertisers since readers gain more control over the content they’re trying to read and advertisers get more valuable ad impressions.

6 thoughts on “StarTribune.com’s Auto-Refreshing of Pages Sucks”

  1. Can’t say thanks enough for this topic. It reminds me of another annoyance of the Strib’s online site. The fact that they force you to look at ads occasinally. Have you clicked a link from your reader and it takes you to a page, and instantly it bounces you to a full page advertisement that you can’t click out of unless you hack the URL? It annoys the $@# out of me. I’ve noticed LinkedIn doing it too when you subscribe to “Your Network” feed that informs you of network updates. Click a LinkedIn link from your reader and you’re stuck looking at an ad.

    CNet Does this, and they do it well having the “Skip Ad” or “Continue to Cnet” link in the upper right corner.

    Any chance someone found a way with GreaseMonkey or the like to disable the auto refreshing via a script?

  2. You forgot one other annoyance with the auto refresh: You lose your place. If I’m in the middle of reading an article, and it automatically refreshes, it goes back to the top of the page, and I have to find my place again.

    Auto refresh on the front page makes some sense, and probably on the main page of different sections. But not for articles.

  3. I hate the auto-refresh too. My biggest pet peeve is if I’m watching some Strib video on the front page, half the time the autorefresh will reset the video. And often the refresh rate is faster than the length of the video, so that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to watch the whole thing.

  4. I wonder if the auto-refresh is what is behind their claim to be the number one local website in views?

  5. Don’t Forget:
    The strib breaks up articles into two paragraph pages (really annoying on the i-phone).
    And how many times have I hit a link for an Rss feed for one of their stories only to find no content just “paragraph array” repeated twelve times.

  6. Damn straight! I hate that when I’m clicking through a page on another tab is when the Startribune.com happens to be reloading and my older laptop freezes up for a minute with the inundation of data.

    It means I don’t leave Startribune.com up on my computer much anymore, meaning I’m reading it much less.

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