Vice website performance (scrolling responsiveness)


#1

My computer seems to be having a lot of trouble navigating Vice websites. On a typical page, there’s a 1-2 second delay between any input (arrow keys or scroll wheel) and a corresponding movement of the page. The delay is compounded by the fact that inputs within that delay period often get lost, so it’s not just lag, but more of a temporary freeze every time I try to scroll. This can make reading even short articles a pain (and to be clear, this seems to be an issue for me on all Vice sites, not just Waypoint).

I know my computer is way below average compared to most of the gaming rigs used by this community, but I feel like I shouldn’t need a gaming PC at all to read articles (and my cheap Android phone doesn’t have problems with the site). I suspect that the issue has something to do with analytics being done to track engagement with articles. I’ve tried using the website with both Firefox and Chrome and they both have this problem. In Firefox’s privacy mode, articles don’t even load, which is interesting. I don’t mind Vice tracking engagement in principle, but whatever scripts are running are wrecking the desktop site for me.


#2

The site has a terrible user experience and that is actually pushing me away from using it. This is the only website I know that performs this way and this badly, and I have a top of the line gaming pc, so it is not because of the power of machine you are using that is the problem. I do not know if it because vice has a bad web platform and waypoint has to stick with it, but they need a total overhaul.

Also thank you for posting this, because the site would not let me last week when I created my account and did not ever tell me why.


#3

That’s actually very interesting to hear. I think Discourse, as a forum software has seemed rather extraordinarily good? I think going back at least a decade if not more the UX has been… remarkably good for tracking threads. (Perhaps customized settings for updates/notifications has helped with that some.)

Could you expand on issues with the server/software on what problems you’re having?


#4

My anecdotal feed back:

I have zero issue with the site now, but in the past if I’d click an article, go back, then try to click another article it would freeze up and require a refresh. That being said, that seems to have been ironed out.


#5

I agree. My post (and presumably Exo’s reply) was about articles on waypoint.vice.com, not the forum. The forum is great. On the Waypoint website proper, the main problem I have is the inability to easily scroll the page. There are other issues with the UX of the Vice news sites, but none of the others are nearly as annoying.

I’m still having the scrolling problem as of the time I’m writing this, at least in Chrome and Firefox. I tried opening the website with Microsoft Edge and surprisingly it was much more responsive there, at least initially. However, Edge is using 60% of my CPU just to idle on a Waypoint article and started having issues with the page after a minute. Going from Waypoint to an arbitrary non-Vice website quickly cut CPU usage of that browser down below 2%. Firefox doesn’t hog the CPU unless I try to scroll on a Waypoint article, in which case its CPU usage jumps to about 40%.

Recording JavaScript performance on Firefox shows that there’s an event handler for scrolling that often takes more than one second to execute. The code involved has been minified, so it’s hard to see what it’s doing, but it causes a huge amount of garbage collection to be required. The offending code appears to be New Relic performance tracking, so it’s possible that the page performance sucks because of the software being used to track how good page performance is (despite what they may claim).

Edit: I really missed the ball on that diagnosis (see @nightpool’s comments below). I need to learn how to actually use browser dev tools.


#6

The forum is working fine, it is the main site that is terrible.


#7

On my work laptop, it’s pretty bad. On my home desktop it works perfectly.

Laptop:
-i3 CPU
-8gbRAM
-Integrated Intel graphics

Running Chrome or Firefox. I imagine it’s some sort of rendering issue with lower end machines.


#8

The first thing I did on this forum was do a search for “performance” to see if I was the only one experiencing this. I don’t have much to add that @majugi hasn’t already covered much better than I could have, other than to say +1.


#9

I was looking to see if there was a thread like this because if not I wanted to make one. I have adblock off for vice, but usually that means scrolling down to read an article is very slow. I want to support the site but that’s not a great experience! I’m sure that the waypoint staff isn’t calling the shots on this, but maybe it’s feedback that can be passed on to engineering and whoever is responsible for the ads at vice.


#10

I also have adblock off for vice, but can confirm turning it on doesn’t help either. Scrolling down Waypoint articles has become something I actively dread, if I’m being honest. That first bit of lag is often enough to make me close the tab unless it’s something I really really want to read. Fortunately, Feedly doesn’t have that problem. But then I don’t get the embedded images sometimes, so.


#11

I was curious about this and decided to take a quick profile. On this low-end laptop, a single scroll DOM event took 1.7s and ran way more code than I’d expect for a single event handler. So it seems like there is indeed a bug somewhere; hopefully they’ll be able to find and fix it soon!


#12

I have had some issues with the Vice site engine. I told WP of some issues with how they were serving ads in the UK and that has been fixed now as far as I can tell! Overall it’s not too egregious, but I would say it’s just bad enough that I visit Vice sites less often as a result.

On a positive note, Vox Product had some terrible issues with the Chorus engine which built up over a number of years, and they managed to get their act together last year and their site UX is fantastic now. It took a concerted effort to do this, it sounds like they made it a team priority for a number of months but it has definitely paid off for them. They’re almost certainly higher in search/social as a result. I’d encourage Vice to do the same, but in reality it’ll probably have to get a bit worse before they decide to take it more seriously.


#13

I was just thinking about this as I recently bought a Chromebook. It’s fine on my Android phone, but it chugs along on my Chromebook, while many other sites are perfectly smooth. Glad it’s not just me. I hope it gets resolved soon, kind of a pain when I really want to read the content here!


#14

It’s seemed to be a problem with Firefox, which was mentioned a few times in an previous thread on the matter, of course folks have mentioned issues with adblock and javascripts, but weirdly browsing the site on Chrome is fine, there’s a little bit of stuttering and scroll lag but it’s unbeaaaarable on Firefox, which happens to be my main browser.
Whatever it is I hope Waypoint web dev folks hear the issues and address them.


#15

Browsing with Chrome does not make things fine for me, though it may be marginally better than Firefox. Edge remains the best Vice-viewer for me by far.


#16

yikes! I just looked at this myself, and on my (reasonably high-end) macbook, it took 400 ms to render a single scroll event:
 

 
Which is way out of line for any reasonable scroll handler. It looks like the main culprit is re-rendering the react hierarchy, but why is it taking so long?

Well, the vice engineers could probably say what’s going on better then I could, but it looks like there’s a huge problem where localizations aren’t getting cached. This means it has to re-load and regenerate the locale file for every component it renders:
 

 

Which includes multiple different vertical-specific locales, so it’s a LOT of different calls!

To my naive eye, it should never have to load the locale files more then once, right when it starts up. Then it can just cache the result, which basically means translationsFor probably needs some memoization code.

A simple test I did finds that that loadSiteStrings and localFilesInBrowser get called almost 3000 times during less then a second of scrolling. That includes an O(N) filtering of every loaded webpack module (around 122) and performing a potentially expensive (because of capturing) regex test against each of them.


#17

I had this same problem. I have had this problem on many sites over the years so this time I decided to do something about it. I am using up-to-date Chrome (58.0.3029.110 (Official Build) (64-bit)), and I already am running Ghostery and AdBlock by default. (fyi I definitely recommend that everyone pause AdBlock on any content site they respect)

You have to reload the page after you add the extension. Also, it disables the website menu on Vice.com. So you should click on to get back to the website menu when you’re done with an article

I hope this helps!


#18

For reference, here is me trying to scroll down an article after a fresh load, with a scrollwheel, which I’m trying to spin downwards as steadily as I can at a slow rate

For contrast, here’s me scrolling down a Gamasutra article with the same methodology:

For what it’s worth, the way Waypoint performs on scroll is consistent with the rest of Vice (I tried scrolling Munchies with similar results).


#19

Yeah the main site runs really poor for me in terms of scrolling… The forums run perfectly fine though.


#20

yeah that scroll gif is consistent with my experience. Safari seems to perform better than chrome though (for me). It’s still not a great time.