Microsoft? No, it's Dilbert!
Recently, Scott Adams and the Dilbert team redesigned the Dilbert.com site. And while it's been called a Beta version, the old Production version of the site doesn't appear to be running any longer. I know it's stretching the point, but this would be like Microsoft releasing a Beta version of Vista (and assuring users to "Please be patient"), while simultaneously causing XP to disappear from everyone's desktop.
Here's the hype:
Welcome to the almost-too-incredible-to-believe BETA version of the new Dilbert web site! We spent most of the past year, and a small fortune, to unwrap all the pent up Dilbert goodness and provide it to you for free, embracing the new realities of intellectual property on the web.And here's a sampling of the reactions:
The site is still in BETA. You're getting a preview of future wonders. Please be patient. This is a generation beyond any comic web site, and it gets bumpy when you pass beyond the rim. Take a sneak peek at these new features:
PUNCH LINES: Write your own punch lines for Dilbert strips - just type them right into the panel - and e-mail them to friends!
Soon you will be able to write the entire strip, collaborating with others, in what we call Group Mash! (One person writes the first panel, another writes the second, and so on.) Readers can vote the best ones to the top of the heap. That way you get the attention and credit you need to make life worth living.
Starting today, mocking the idiots in your workplace is a competitive sport! This is going to be fun. I'll participate in the Punch Lines and Group Mashes too. Look for my contributions under username ScottAdams.
ANIMATION: We've animated Dilbert online. Several strips are already done and we plan to add one per day. You have to hear the new voice for Dogbert.
FAVORITE LISTS: Create lists of your favorite Dilbert comics and share with others.
ARCHIVE EXPANDED: Now the free Dilbert archive extends back to 2001. We're working on putting the entire archive online.
COLOR: All online strips are in living color. They look sensational.
SEARCH: Filter the archive by favorite characters. For example, find all the comics in the archive featuring Dogbert or Catbert or Asok, etc., plus any combination of characters.
DILBERT BLOG: My personal blog is moving to this page. And you'll be able to vote on comments, so the wisest and funniest float to the top.
"The new animation feayture is unneeded, unwanted, and unloved."Then comes an "apology" of sorts from Scott Adams, while hinting that maybe this bloated Beta wasn't such a bad thing:
"I'm not sure if the new website is a parody on Microsoft and their ilk, or simply following in their best traditions.
You release the thing, it is full of bugs and works badly so you promise to fix it in a while. Could be the latest version of the Dilbert web site or the latest version of Windows. I look forward to the day when everything else, cars, toasters, books etc, is produced this way."
"Did Scott Adams contract site design out to Dilbert's company?"
"Please tell us that this blog entry was written for you by the Marketing department, and that you yourself are just as shocked and appalled at this unusable mess as the rest of us are."
"I'm sure you all spent a lot of time on it so I don't think you will change back anytime soon but really, this is another case of "you tried to fix something that isn't broke". Very Dilbert."
"Your developers and deployment staff seem to have totally thrown this out. This _isn't_ a beta, this is a live deployment, and as such the 'Beta' image should be removed. It's not cool. Neither is the new format - it is offensive to the eye, difficult to navigate, and has suffered an ill-thought-out roll-out."
"I've worked in IT for 25 years now, and Dilbert has kept me sane throughout that time, but I never thought that Dilbert's own web site would become like one of it's own jokes."
"I'm disappointed to find that the animations are Windows/Mac only. I was looking forward to watching them, only to be told that my Linux isn't supported. Please change this so you don't loose your Linux-using audience."
"It's big, it's bloated, and I don't like it at all. I'm hoping against hope that it's some PHB-inspired, time-delayed April Fools joke of some sort that is some artistic attempt at satire and irony."
"Sorry but the new site is hideous. It takes forever to load, is infested with Flash and generally looks vile."
Our web site upgrade (BETA) reminds me of a local restaurant in my area. The owner painted the storefront a hideous purple, the sort of color that is an insult to all buildings. He did it without city approval, and it got the residents up in arms. Everyone was talking about the restaurant with the awful color. A month later, the owner repainted with an inoffensive color and everyone was happy. In the meantime, the controversy made this restaurant universally known in the area. I drove past it the other day and it was packed. Damn, I wish I had thought of that idea with my own restaurant.And then another "apology" is written, while throwing a bone to the Linux audience:
We weren't nearly that clever with our web site redesign, but something like the purple restaurant happened by accident. The majority of people who left a comment had bitter (and totally valid) complaints. We used way too much Flash, the servers slowed to a crawl, the navigation of strips was klunky, and so on. We plan to fix all of that in the next week or two. The developers won't be getting much sleep. We've already made the site much quicker.
Meanwhile, traffic on Dilbert.com doubled. And the new features, particular the Mash Ups and the archive search functions are a big hit. People either loved that the strips are now in color or hated it, but everyone had a strong opinion. That's what I love about Dilbert readers. It makes my job a lot more interesting.
Linux users were the most vocal in their complaints. (Who saw that coming?) Your numbers are small but your power is mighty. Just for you, we're working on a bare bones page with only the strips, text navigation, and not much else. Look for that in a week or so. You'll be able to jump from there to the main page if you want to experience the new features like regular folk.
In the meantime, you can always use the new (legal) Dilbert RSS feed. It's just the strips, the way you like it. Click here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DilbertDailyStrip
We appreciate all the comments. We're looking at them carefully and making changes. Some will say we shouldn't have inflicted this messy Beta version on the public. There's merit to that argument, but if I was worried about embarrassing myself in front of millions of people, I would need a new job.
Thanks for working with me through this upgrade. I apologize for the messy start.
Recently we redesigned the Dilbert.com web site and added a ton of features, such as animation, deeper archives, mash ups, and more. The reaction from readers has been fascinating.As an aside, I used HttpWatch to take a look at the "Beta/Production" site at dilbert.com as compared to the "/Fast" site at dilbert.com/fast.
Let me get this out of the way: I realize the Beta version of the web site has lots of issues. It’s overloaded with Flash, slower than it needs to be, and the navigation is confusing. We’re fixing most of that over the next few weeks. I apologize for the inconvenience.
The fascinating thing about the responses is that it revealed three distinct types of Dilbert readers:
The first group is the ultra-techies who have an almost romantic relationship with technology. For them, the new site felt like getting dumped by a lover. Their high-end technology (generally Linux) and security settings made much of the site inconvenient. Moreover, the use of Flash offended them on some deep emotional level.
The second group objected to the new level of color and complexity, and the associated slowness. They like their Dilbert comics simple, fast, and in two colors. Anything more is like putting pants on a cat.
The third group uses technology as nothing more than a tool, and subscribes to the philosophy that more free stuff is better than less free stuff. That group has embraced the new features on the site and spiked the traffic stats.
For you first two groups, if you promise to keep it to yourselves, we created a stripped-down Dilbert page with just the comic, some text navigation, and the archive: www.dilbert.com/fast. This alternate site is a minor secret, mentioned only here and in the text footnote to the regular site as “Linux/Unix.”
The main site will be getting a Flash diet that will make it speedier soon, so check back in a few weeks. That’s where all the fun will be.
The Beta/Production site:
- took just under 14 seconds to load
- downloaded about 700k
- required 63 network round trips
- took just over 4 seconds to load
- downloaded about 220k
- required 12 network round trips