Losing my place
I really love kottke.org. It’s one of the few blogs I still personally visit, rather than consuming via RSS. For reasons I can’t quite explain (maybe nostalgia for the old days of blogging? maybe experiencing the work as a creator intended it?), I want to feel the full experience of perusing Jason’s posts right from his site.
But I’ve found one annoying aspect to the experience. Jason shows a sponsored post on the homepage that maintains it’s position (currently the second post down) independent of when it was created. So, even though posts are showing in reverse chronological order, this sponsored post defies that order.
I know this. I understand how it works. But as I come to kottke.org to catch up on posts I’ve missed, I’ve mistakenly stopped at the sponsored post countless times, missing new content that I had not yet seen, that was bumped beneath it by new posts added at the top.
I have a mental expectation that a pattern of organization would be applied consistently, like a bookshelf at a public library. Not like my bookshelf at home, which is fairly haphazard and where I fully expect to hunt for a while to find what I’m looking for. At a public library, if I get to the end of the A’s and don’t find Ariely, I don’t think to look in the B’s. I trust the librarians to have done their jobs.
I only recognized this problem because I was feeling frustrated with myself for missing new posts because I couldn’t keep it in my head that the sponsored post didn’t follow the order. Why couldn’t I remember that? Is that so hard to remember?
The answer must be that, as I’m browsing, it’s not easily accessed information. It defies my normal, intuitive expectation of reverse chronological post ordering. And it ultimately causes frustration and mistrust when I later discover that I have missed posts.
Now, granted, it’s not a lot of frustration and mistrust. So maybe it doesn’t matter too much. But why risk regular visitors missing content? I would consider more frequent sponsored posts that follow the normal sort order, over a single sponsored with a fixed position.