Getting journal-style friends pages back - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Getting journal-style friends pages back
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 11:36 am
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Does anyone have a definitive answer to the problem of /friends automatically redirecting to /feed, which means you see your friends page in the site default style instead of the style that matches your journal appearance?

I've seen several complaints about it on my flist, and I've seen several suggestions of fixes in the comments, but they all seem to work really inconsistently. This suggests to me that it's in fact a bug rather than an intentional behaviour on the part of LJ, but I don't know how good LJ these days is at fixing bugs which affect people who want to stick to deprecated site behaviour. The impression I'm getting is that the redirect isn't meant to be happening at all, unless you've specifically opted in, and somehow just changing any setting related to display, or sometimes logging out, clearing cookies and logging in again, is resetting whatever glitch is causing the problem.

Right now I'm seeing my preferred, journal-style friends page. And I don't particularly want to change that so I can test possible fixes, because I'm scared I might never get my own friends page back. And even if I did want to do that I don't actually know how to reproduce the problem behaviour... But the first time LJ started redirecting everybody to /feed quite a while back, there was a banner at the top of the page that allowed you to revert to the older version, and I clicked that and so far it's been sticky. But damn I hate permanent settings that can only be toggled from a particular page, rather than being available in the settings menu.

Subsequently to that, LJ started imposing a toolbar over the top of custom styled journals (I thought we went through this whole controversy with the navigation strip back in the mid 2000s, but apparently forced banners are back in *sigh*). And that toolbar broke my CSS which gives me a small margin at the sides of my content. I switched it off by, again, clicking a JavaScript link in the toolbar itself labelled something like "Switch back to old version", I can't remember exactly. As a result I see site-based pages in the hoary old Vertigo site scheme, with the old LJ logo of the more or less 3D pencil drawing a spiral. And this is fine except that it's completely deprecated and a number of menu options are missing. Another reason why I can't easily test fixes, because I don't have the menu options people are suggesting one can use.

So, several people have suggested ticking or unticking various boxes at http://www.livejournal.com/manage/settings/?cat=display. The most common suggestions are Set old design version, an option not available to me in my old-school display, and Use my journal's style when viewed on a mobile device, which I personally do not have ticked, and should not be relevant as the redirect is happening on full-sized desktops not only smartphones. View all journals and communities in my own style sounds like it should do an entirely different thing but some people have reported it working. Which is what is fuelling my suspicion that these settings aren't actually fixing the problem, they're just causing something to refresh somewhere so the glitch goes away.

Some terminology, because this is really, really confusing! Journal style is not directly relevant; it refers to the custom appearance of your own journal. And the problem here is that the old friends page used to match journal style, but the new "Feed" page doesn't. So it basically doesn't matter what your journal style is, but some people have reported that tinkering with it can help, which again supports the theory that changing anything gets rid of the glitch.

Style system, namely S1 and S2, are again not relevant. S1 refers to a more than 10 years deprecated way of altering journal appearance, using a weird homebrew markup language known as overrides. Some people are very attached to it, because they got their journal looking exactly how they want it in 2002, and don't want to change anything. If your Friends page isn't displaying in your journal style anyway, it doesn't matter whether your journal style is based on S1 or S2.

Site scheme refers to the appearance of the main site pages. Again, this is deprecated absolutely years ago, LJ is no longer officially supporting multiple alternative site schemes. The options as of 2012 were as listed in this outdated FAQ. But even back before that there used to be a purple and orange option called Dystopia, and... anyone remember what the others were called? Some people still have those set on their journal, and are reluctant to change, and there at least used to be a secret hidden menu (or even console option, but the console reference is hopelessly incomplete) to use those instead of the options from the early 2010s.

Display version refers to whether you use the old fashioned site schemes, with the old LJ logo and a handful of different options, or the new, supposed to be universal but largely despised site design with all the blue and white, and the very stylized blue and black pencil in a little circle. It may or may not include whether you get a custom, journal-matching friends page instead of a site-design feed page, but I'm honestly not sure about this. To me it looks inconsistent; some people who use the "new display version" have the redirecting problem and some don't, some people who use the "old display version" have the redirecting problem and some don't.

I haven't had access to the Support backend since 2008 or so, so I was able to see lots of reports of the problem on the Support board, but not what Support volunteers are offering as a solution.

This is really frustrating, partly because I used to be such a power user ten years ago and I would totally have known what was going on and would've had a definitive answer as to whether it could be fixed and if so, how. And partly because LJ is just such a freaking mess of deprecated versions all over the place that it's really difficult to sort through. And I do understand that keeping old versions at least vaguely available after design updates is a popular choice, because people hate change. but it makes it very very hard to deal with bugs if everybody's seeing something slightly different and lots of people are relying on very bitrotted totally unmaintained code. And of course LJ isn't Open Source any more, so I can't even go digging in the code to find out what's causing this nonsense, let alone offer a patch for it.

And I'm just scared that the inconsistent behaviour of redirecting to /feed is going to get fixed in the wrong direction, and they're going to make everybody use /feed and take away the option to keep the old-style, journal matching Friends page altogether. Which would suck, just when I've come back to LJ and was starting to feel approximately comfortable here.


Whereaboooots: LiveJournal
Moooood: frustratedfrustrated
Tuuuuune: Guns 'n' Roses: You could be mine
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:August 12th, 2015 10:47 am (UTC)
11 minutes after journal entry, 10:47 am (lethargic_man's time)
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Just as a data point, rather than anything helpful: I haven't tweaked my journal style since it was first set up over ten years ago, and I only get /friends redirecting to /feed when I'm not logged in.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:07 am (UTC)
31 minutes after journal entry, 11:07 am (livredor's time)
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I think this is the desired behaviour, and it shouldn't matter whether you've tweaked your journal style or not. Do you remember if you ever saw /feed when you were logged in, and if you clicked a banner or otherwise changed an option to take you back to the older system? Not recently, some months ago?
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:12 am (UTC)
36 minutes after journal entry, 11:12 am (lethargic_man's time)
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Possibly, but if so, years ago rather than months; it may not have been the most recent change.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:17 am (UTC)
41 minutes after journal entry, 11:17 am (livredor's time)
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I wouldn't be surprised if it had actually been years. I remember there was an LJ release which drove masses of people to Dreamwidth, because they were getting the forced redirect to the site design /feed, and eventually LJ backtracked and gave people the option to keep the old, journal matching /friends. But it was some time between 2013 and 2014, and I can't quickly think how I'd identify when the incident was, and it probably wouldn't help if I could.
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green_knight: Joust
From:green_knight
Date:August 12th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
12 hours after journal entry, 10:37 pm (green_knight's time)
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I did, and as I recall, at the time there was something about if you're using an old-style style, the setting will stick, but if you use a newer style or don't have a paid/permanent account, you'll be forced into feed.

Every now and again it glitches for me; but if I manually go back to /friends, I tend to stay there.

I *so* am not updating away from S1. You prise my friends page away from my cold, dead hands
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kerrypolka: default
From:kerrypolka
Date:August 12th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry
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This is my experience too! (I last changed my journal style in 2010, maybe?)
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:03 am (UTC)
27 minutes after journal entry
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FWIW, I've never changed my style since I first set it up and it seems to do journal-style now (I just checked) but I never look at it, I always have a friend filter with "most" people in and read that instead.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
34 minutes after journal entry, 11:10 am (livredor's time)
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Oh, good point, filtered friends pages, I have no idea how the new feed thing interacts with filters. But yes, it seems like you're getting journal style unless you actively choose to go to the /feed page, same for me, and I think (hope!) this is the intended behaviour. Just that some people, including many equally old and unmodified journals, are getting redirected no matter what they do.
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aldabra: ghost
From:aldabra
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:48 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:48 am (aldabra's time)
(Link)
That's how it used to work. Getting the entries feed was what used to tip me off that it had logged me out since last time I looked. (Which was useful, because before that the friends page would look just the same and it could take ages to spot that there weren't actually any filtered entries showing up.)
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aldabra: ghost
From:aldabra
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:06 am (UTC)
30 minutes after journal entry, 11:06 am (aldabra's time)
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I twiddled the mobile devices setting and it didn't work. I haven't got "use old display style", and "view everything in my style" is greyed out unless I pay them money, which I am most disinclined to do if they're going to mess around like this.

Dystopia is what I use.

They don't seem to be acknowledging support requests. You'd think it's be reasonably straightforward to say aargh, it's broken, we're looking at it.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:14 am (UTC)
38 minutes after journal entry, 11:14 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Right, this is further data in support of my theory that changing the settings only coincidentally appears to fix things. And you're still using Dystopia; it would have been ages ago, but do you remember ever specifically choosing an option to keep that rather than the next generation site schemes like Horizon / Vertigo?

I don't want to recommend that you temporarily change to the "new display style" to be able to see the use old display style option, because for all I know you might never get Dystopia back. It's a pity Support are being rubbish; I was hoping someone would have got a useful answer out of them that could then be shared.
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aldabra: default
From:aldabra
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC)
55 minutes after journal entry, 11:31 am (aldabra's time)
(Link)
I'm fairly sure I landed on Dystopia because it was the least bad option when they were trying to make me change to something else. I'm not even sure I had a style option before that; I suspect I had some original basic layout, and they said we're upgrading everyone to compulsory actual styles, and I swore and found the least intrusive one there was. I wouldn't go looking for styles except to fix a problem.

About a year or so ago I mindlessly clicked on something that said "Try out our new friends page!" and there wasn't an option to switch back; I had to get support to change me back manually, and they didn't tell me how. But I think what that did was set me to this feed instead of my friends page.
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aldabra: ghost
From:aldabra
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:36 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:36 am (aldabra's time)
(Link)
I did momentarily get this page in my style when I posed that comment, but it's gone away again now.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:45 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:45 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
*sigh* This matches with my memory of what happened, yeah. Lots of people clicked and then had no option to get back. Now it seems people are getting redirected without even clicking anything, but it's not everybody, just some people inconsistently. And some people can fix that by fiddling with settings and some can't. So I am trying to work out the common factors.

You don't need to care about this, but Dystopia is a site-scheme, not a journal style. When you look at something like the LJ home page, or your own profile, say, do you see a page design that's mostly white with garish purple and orange accents? That's Dystopia. Your journal style itself is one of the old, plain ones, indeed, but I'm feeling like this should be irrelevant to whether you see /feed in place of your real Friends Page.

It's just possible that the auto-redirect is happening to S1 journals rather than S2 journals. That would be weird but not completely implausible, I guess. Though I have seen reports that things are still normal, from other people who haven't ever updated their journal style in over a decade, so I don't feel like I have good evidence for this explanation.
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aldabra: default
From:aldabra
Date:August 12th, 2015 12:06 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 12:06 pm (aldabra's time)
(Link)
Every time I look at this page full of comments it's in a different set of colours; I think something may be screwy in real time.

When I look at www.livejournal.com I get a banner across the top in blue/purple and orange, and a margin on the left in blue and orange. That's what I think Dystopia is.

I've got those around the entries feed too.

When I go to http://aldabra.livejournal.com/ I get something different, with a black banner across the top and no left margin, and a wide blue empty margin on the right. I don't think I ever put that there, but I don't use that page often enough to want to care about it.
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aldabra: default
From:aldabra
Date:August 14th, 2015 07:19 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 07:19 am (aldabra's time)
(Link)
Support request reply says:

Thank you for the additional information, and I apologize for the delay in
responding to your request. We have seen other reports that the opt out of
the friends feed is not working, and this appears to be a result of using
the S1 style system. While the S1 style system is considered deprecated and
no longer supported, this has been forwarded to LiveJournal developers, who
will investigate the problem and determine what actions are appropriate to
resolve it.
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mathcathy: default
From:mathcathy
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC)
55 minutes after journal entry, 11:31 am (mathcathy's time)
(Link)
Yes.

Someone else directed me to it ... in the settings page there is a "display" tab and on that there is an option for keeping your journal settings as standard when you log in by mobile.

Works like a dream.
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:37 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:37 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thanks for this. The problem is that I've seen people recommending that exact setting, and other people saying they've tried it and it didn't work. Eg this thread. So I'm glad it worked for you, but it seems to me like it's another example where changing more or less random settings inconsistently fixes the problem.
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mathcathy: default
From:mathcathy
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:39 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:39 am (mathcathy's time)
(Link)
I guess like nothing fixes my Dreamwidth style issue?
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livredor: bunneh
From:livredor
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:50 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:50 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Is that still broken? Am I right that the problem is that when you look at your journal on a mobile phone, the text is squished into a really narrow column? I think we established that's an actual problem with the style CSS and not with your settings, and if I can get my courage together to start programming for DW again, I might just possibly be able to fix it.
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mathcathy: default
From:mathcathy
Date:August 12th, 2015 11:57 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 11:57 am (mathcathy's time)
(Link)
It's still broken :(

And yes, that's where we'd placed the problem.
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emperor: Phoenix
From:emperor
Date:August 12th, 2015 01:46 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 01:46 pm (emperor's time)
(Link)
I use S1; a while back I got a "do you want to try feed?" box, and said no to that, and I just get the friends page. I note this as a data point, I'm afraid I don't have a good answer to your question.
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iddewes: default
From:iddewes
Date:August 12th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 05:43 pm (iddewes's time)
(Link)
I gather it's automatic now on the mobile version of the site, and I managed to change my Kindle to show the desktop version instead and got rid of the /feed page that way. I hate it too, it is so boring and takes ages to load. I'm still always getting the friends page on the desktop version though.
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siderea: default
From:siderea
Date:August 13th, 2015 02:44 am (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry, August 12th, 2015 09:44 pm (siderea's time)
(Link)
Do you know about this, via the admin console?
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cjwatson: shamrock
From:cjwatson
Date:August 13th, 2015 01:26 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 01:26 pm (cjwatson's time)
(Link)
I'm nowhere near my normal computer to check, and don't know the code, but all this business of symptoms going away after you twiddle any settings smells of something like a nullable database column that's treated differently in the settings UI vs. normal page rendering, maybe after a sloppy half-completed DB schema change. Has anyone tried experimenting with the behaviour of freshly-created accounts? My theory is that either it'll be impossible to reproduce the problems with a fresh account (if the column is set to non-null when creating a new user) or it'll be fairly easy to find a sequence of settings changes that lead to the same result (if it isn't).
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