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Spider-Vice

Lazy Loading Survey Results + Additional Comments

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Spider-Vice

Hi all!

A couple of weeks ago we made a survey on whether our users would like to see lazy loading behaviour on GTAForums or not, which would make videos and images in topics load only as you scroll, and not all at once, to avoid potential performance issues or lag.

We asked users whether they experienced any lag or slowness in topics with lots of images and video, and asked whether they would like to see lazy loading on the forums, or not, along with how often they browse video/image topics and what device they browse from.

 

Fact/Results Sheet (sample size: 123 responses)

  • 75.6%¬†of members who responded browse GTAF from their PC's, whereas¬†24.4%¬†browse from their mobile phones. Conversely, most guests in our forum browse from mobile devices, as such as the Internet nowadays;
  • 28.9%¬†of members who responded said they looked at video and pictures topics relatively often (4), using a scale from 1 to 5, along with 27.3%¬†who looked at them a little less frequently (3).
  • We asked members whether they experienced any lag in a specific topic with images (that we thought could apply to any other topic with lots of images), and¬†42.3%¬†responded¬†No, there is just a little temporary lag. The¬†same percentage¬†responded¬†No, it is fully smooth.¬†13%¬†said it was slow to scroll through whereas the rest, a small minority,¬†said¬†their device froze.
  • We asked members then about a video topic.¬†47.2%¬†of members responded¬†No, there was just a little temporary lag, and¬†31.7%¬†responded¬†No, it is fully smooth.¬†17.9%¬†of people responded¬†Yes, it is slow to scroll¬†through, unsurprisingly, as videos are generally more demanding than images to load.
  • When asked about lazy loading and whether members would like it enabled or not,¬†57.7%¬†responded¬†Yes¬†and¬†42.3%¬†responded¬†No.

 

Verdict

A lot of members had some reservations about lazy loading, as they wished there would be an option to enable it, or not, depending on their preference. Unfortunately, Invision Power Board does not allow this and the option applies to all posts, and every member group, forced to either on, or off.

The amount of members who replied that the topics were browseable normally or just with temporary lag were also the majority, which contradicted our original thought that embeds were likely an issue for many people around these forums due to them browsing on mobile devices or weaker laptops (and not always gaming PC's).

Given some of the comments (like making it toggleable) and images and videos in topics not being such a huge issue as we thought they were, despite most people voting Yes for lazy loading, we decided to not enable lazy loading as there is no flexibility to the function, and it seems to us from the survey that browsing topics with images and videos is not an extremely large problem as once thought. This does NOT mean we can't reverse this decision in the future if we see fit or needed, depending on feedback.

 

We'd like to thank everyone who took some time to reply to the survey, and we'd also like to thank those who left additional comments, even those that had nothing to do with the issue at hand. Unfortunately we are running third party forum software, and out flexibility with a lot of issues is not as much as you'd think, without hacking the heck out of the forum software - and that has gone horribly wrong for us in the past. I will be addressing some of the comments below, however:

 

Additional Comments (expand spoiler to read)

Spoiler
Quote

Loading lots of images in topics like screenshot sections is annoying because it pushes you up again while looking at screenshots. I would prefer when everything loads in at once but I guess it‚Äės hard to make it faster because of all these image Hosters. What about uploading images directly to gtaforums?

Letting members upload images to our server is a slippery slope. Not only we'd have to police image uploads to ensure nothing illegal or such was uploaded, but server space isn't free, quite the opposite. Regardless, this would not change much in page load times as once your connection is saturated, you'll always see images loading and the page being pushed up.

 

Quote

It's probably more a posting-etiquette-problem instead of something that can be fixed, but if people didn't (or couldn't?) quote an entire post complete with all images / videos just to add a one sentence reaction or question, things might be a bit easier and better laid out.

This is going to be (FINALLY!) added in a future version of Invision Power Board - quotes will auto-collapse if they are too long.

 

Quote

Please allow posts to not automatically embed. Sometimes you just want to post a link, not embed the damn thing. I'm more annoyed with all the old code blocks being rendered unusable due to newlines being deleted.

 

You can always reverse the embedding by clicking the tooltip that pops up and says paste as plain text instead. Unfortunately we couldn't do anything about the old code blocks, Invision's own post parser is awful and screwed that up when we upgraded. Talk about supporting your own software properly...

 

To everyone who talked about a toggle, as said above, unfortunately it's not possible as IPB reprocesses all posts' metadata to make images lazy load, and is not something that is set per member.

 

Again, thanks everyone for participating!

  • Like 21
  • fir thi bairns 4

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Lioshenka

1. Happy about the outcome

2. Thanks for posting these, I love seeing the results/analysis of various surveys (especially of which I was part of)

3. I'm surprised noone else has responded to this topic yet.

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Hazzardtohimself
On 8/2/2020 at 9:58 PM, Spider-Vice said:

This is going to be (FINALLY!) added in a future version of Invision Power Board - quotes will auto-collapse if they are too long.

This is good news! Many thanks for addressing this one. 

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Mdc

Threads like 

 

 

Don't work on a mobile. That's the only one I've ever had a problem with really.

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suicidal_banana

Good stuff, thanks for sharing the outcome and realizing that lazy loading isn't the fix its thought to be!

 

Food for thought: In the future you could maybe start demanding people use some predefined platform (like imgur or whatever) for their pictures, if everybody uses the same stuff it gets a lot easier to automatically request smaller resolution images (and just link to orig 16k image) and cut away a big portion of traffic for the end-users.

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Lioshenka
On 8/5/2020 at 4:52 AM, suicidal_banana said:

Food for thought: In the future you could maybe start demanding people use some predefined platform (like imgur or whatever) for their pictures, if everybody uses the same stuff it gets a lot easier to automatically request smaller resolution images (and just link to orig 16k image) and cut away a big portion of traffic for the end-users.

Yeah, but then you are relying on a third party; they change their code, and GTAF admins have a headache trying to fix the images across the whole forums.

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Spider-Vice

That would also be extremely hard to enforce and some users prefer other image hosting services, so we're obviously letting people choose whichever they want still, even if it's slower for some.

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Mister Pink

Great to see functions like this being researched and surveyed first. Data-driven decisions! Nice to see the results too. 

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suicidal_banana
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Lioshenka said:

Yeah, but then you are relying on a third party; they change their code, and GTAF admins have a headache trying to fix the images across the whole forums.

Fair point but for most image hosting websites its just adding something to the url to enforce a certain resolution, its not like this would be some highly complex system, also its been a while since i've messed around with the backend of a webserver but im like 99% sure this could be done with some server settings or even just some invision settings, posts can just contain the actual image url's in the database/tables, and then somewhere in the backend these urls will be 'enhanced' before we get our page rendered?


 

2 hours ago, Spider-Vice said:

That would also be extremely hard to enforce and some users prefer other image hosting services, so we're obviously letting people choose whichever they want still, even if it's slower for some.

Also a fair point¬†ūüėõ¬†but¬†the above idea could still be possible if you do it for idk, the 3-5 most used image hosts by users of these boards? either way we're getting ahead of ourselves here, i wasnt saying do this now, i was saying 'food for thought', its safe to say we dont need anything like this for the foreseeable future, but when GTA6 gets announced and the amount of active users quadruples again we might need something like it

Edited by suicidal_banana

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Dryspace

This was absolutely the correct decision. I congratulate the responsible parties. Significant changes should not be made to a complex system unless it is clear that possible negative repercussions are outweighed by present negative circumstances.

 

I have a question: I was thinking that, before looking into Lazy Loading, something might be done to minimize Lazy Posting. I notice that this subject is mentioned in your original post--it seems quite often that a person quotes a post without taking just a few seconds to trim out the huge pics/videos.

 

But getting to my question: While I think that making quotes as small as possible is a considerate thing to do, it occurred to me that it probably doesn't have any effect on loading, since the actual information would only be downloaded once, and "pointed to" for each instance on a page. Is that the case?

 

If so, auto-collapse of quotes wouldn't help the loading issue, but auto-collapsing posts in general that contain more than say, one or two images, seems like it would be a good idea, as long as the collapsed content didn't load until it was clicked on.

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Lioshenka
3 hours ago, Dryspace said:

If so, auto-collapse of quotes wouldn't help the loading issue, but auto-collapsing posts in general that contain more than say, one or two images, seems like it would be a good idea, as long as the collapsed content didn't load until it was clicked on.

I've seen autocollapsing on some forums - not just images, but long posts; it looks hideous, and you have to expand pretty much every post as you scroll. The Screenshot and Video gallery threads will be a nightmare to navigate, so if GTAF decide to go this route we need to be careful to use the well-written plug in - I think putting whatever change to vote is the best.

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Spider-Vice

Let's not assume things. Only large quotes would be collapsed and it's not a plugin, it's a native feature from Invision Board.

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Ho Diver

Xenforo forums has a feature where quotes, no matter the size, change the pictures embedded into links only, though I've only seen this with videos and pics uploaded directly to the forum server. If there's a way to do that with stuff uploaded on third party hosts, that would basically solve the loading problem (with quotes, at least) I think.

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Dryspace

I didn't know about this survey before, but I should add that, on a desktop, I have not had any problems at all myself. Out of curiosity, I just checked a screenshot-heavy thread on a 2014 Samsung Note 4 and didn't have any loading issues there, either.

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