[Ads-l] A quick review of the new OED.com

Daphne Preston-Kendal dpk at NONCEWORD.ORG
Tue Aug 8 14:24:13 UTC 2023

Some more comments after three weeks of use:

1. As I suspected, printing all the names of languages in etymologies in bold face is distracting. The following user stylesheet may help for those similarly irritated by it:

#entry_content #entry_content_body .etymology .language-name { font-weight: inherit !important; }

2. After trying VPN-based login again on Fred Shapiro’s suggestion, I found, like him, that it worked about half the time. Half the time, that is, in terms of individual page loads on the site. Clicking one entry link would work, clicking the next would get me the ‘please subscribe!’ page. Refreshing that one page, however, never seemed to ‘unstick’ it such that it would show me the entry.

This is very frustrating to use in practice, so I have stuck with the ‘institutional log in’ button, going through my university’s web single sign-on. This brings its own frustration, because as others have noted, you get logged back out again within an hour. The notion that this is for ‘security’ is laughable: what are people going to do, use my unlocked computer to look up dirty words? (As if I didn’t do enough of that myself!) What’s the threat model here?? Who do they think they are defending against, and what are they afraid they might do? I have accounts with financial institutions whose websites have more generous login timeouts than this. It’s a bloody dictionary, for crying out loud.

3. Because logging in once is enough friction before being able to find the information I wanted, I don’t bother separately logging in to my new ‘personal’ account. So I mostly use the tabbed view because it’s the default. I don’t see any reason they couldn’t remember my preference to see everything on one page, without my having to log in a second time to make it work. If it did that, and also allowed me to re-order the sections in the ‘single page’ view so that the etymology is at the top again, that’d be great.

4. The browser refresh button (in Safari) seems broken. I don’t generally deliberately refresh OED entries (at least not if they actually let me see the entry), but I did once accidentally when intending to open a new browser tab instead, and instead of showing me the entry again, it took me back to the OED.com homepage; another time, while testing the above user CSS to de-irritate the etymologies, it simply gave me a 500 Internal Server Error.

In summary: the overall improved design, which makes most information much easier to access, is marred by technical irritations— some of them apparently deliberate; others clearly not deliberate, but which should really have been caught and ironed out before launching this and getting rid of the old version entirely.

dpk (Daphne Preston-Kendal) ·· 12103 Berlin, Germany ·· http://dpk.io/
  Pretend that you're Hercule Poirot: Examine all clues, and deduce the
  truth by order and method.               — strings /usr/local/bin/tex

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list