Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor

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Getting journal-style friends pages back

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.
Tags: lj
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