There are some very imaginative and good looking signatures in use on the forum. However, I’ve been thinking for a few months that with more and bigger images being used they’re starting to obscure the forum content (which is what I hope you all come here for!) I don’t want to ban signatures, I think they add some colour to the forum. However, I thought a discussion about them would be useful. So here’s a few thoughts to start the discussion…
Do you think that signatures obscure the forum content?
Whether or not you think they do obscure content, what is the maximum size you think they should be? Size in terms of pixels and file size are both important.
What content is it useful to display in a signature? Link to your weather web site? All your local conditions? A couple of selected local conditions?
Perhaps people could look at their signatures and maybe make some changes in light of any comments made in this thread?
1/. Yes, some are just huge and I pity those suckers stuck on dialup ! The forum is here for information on Weather Display, not for who can put the most images in their signature.
2/. Not too sure pixel wise, but file size should be a ‘rubbery’ 20kb. Heightwise, well if there’s 10 lines of text, and the image is higher than that, then that’s too big.
3/. Link to website/s, but local conditions only if a image not used. Once again, if the signature is taking up 10 lines, then that’s way too much useless information to be repeated time and time again.
My opinion: When the signature is bigger than the content of the message, it distracts from the content. This is especially true when several people all have large signatures, or where a person replies to themselves. There’s also the obvious resource use on the forum in terms of storage and download bandwidth, which ultimately can make the forum slower even for people who turn off the viewing of signatures for themselves.
When all you can see of a thread is two messages, because ot signature size and not content size, it makes a thread frustrating to follow.
I know this thread is for discussion of signature size, but the other related problem, which has the same effect in some ways, is the practise of quoting the entire message when replying. No need to do that, obviously - since the message is right there to review if necessary. Quoting short snippets to make it clear what a specific response is responding to is sufficient in most cases.
I agree with all of the above, and will try to shrink mine a bit, although it’s not in the imax category is it kinda big in bytes - time for a change anyway.
Regarding quoting, has there been a change in this version of the software that includes images in the quote and they weren’t included before? I think I have seen that recently but don’t recall it before.
I’ve run an on-line forum for over 10 years so I know where you are coming from. That was back in the days before broadband and those of us with it tend to forget about the ones still on dialup. First thing to remember is that for every 75k in file size, it take someone on dialup 30 seconds to download that information. Add a few of those together and it could take a couple minutes just for a page to display on this forum.
I took a quick look at some signatures and avatars. Not to point fingers but just an example I found the following signature and avatar file size totals for the following:
In the exteme case where those 7 may have posted in the same page, it would take someone on dialup over 5 minutes to download and display that page. While the “weather banner” service that some use is great, it seems the graphics it produces is some of the worse offenders with single file sizes as large as 75k
IMHO I would allow no more then 5 standard font size text lines (no graphics) in a signature and avatars no larger then 4K in size.
I really don’t have a dog in this fight because there is an option in the set-up to not display signatures. I exercise that option. May just be a carryover from the dial-up days but I can definitely tell the difference with my satellite connection when they are on or off.
Since then Kevin has kindly made the dynamic signatures available. These are about 75k but certainly enhance the post.
When I was on dialup, it certainly was slow at times as sigs and avatars became larger so I took the option of not downloading them - now I’m on an albeit slow broadband connection I download sigs.
I think some are now becoming excessive and not really pertinent to the forum. Much of the info could be gleaned from the poster’s website.
Perhaps some limit could be made or preferably guidelines published.
Somewhere in the post it is handy to have details of the WS, location and software version(s) being used so that specific questions can be answered without too much going back and forth to simply find out this info.
Just a note to qualify this: I worked for a “dot bomb” company 5+ years back and one of the duties was page design/layout/analyzing. Back then “eyeballs” were king as the site was advertising supported and if you don’t get the “eyeballs” you can’t sell advertising. Many studies were done on page load times.
The sudies showed that if a page took over 20 seconds to load, you lost 50% of your first time visitors. For each 10 seconds over, you lost another 10% with 60 second load times losing 90%. While this info is 5+ years old I suspect that visitors are somewhat more tolerate of slower page load times.
As members we do have the option of turning off signatures. Most likely 75% of the members do not even know that. Looking at the visitor numbers at the bottom of the main page 50% of visitors here are guests that can not turn off signatures. As an average, 50% of web users still use dialup… in the end that means at the very very minimum 25% of visitors here experence slow page loads times.
Thought I would look to see just how slow the pages here are. I ran an analyzist on this page (before this post) and came up with the following numbers:
267K page size
28.8K 115.97 seconds
33.6K 99.43 seconds
56K 59.74 seconds
ISDN 128K 18.43 seconds
T1 1.44Mbps 1.78 seconds
Taking another random page here I found that http://discourse.weather-watch.com/t/15952 took the following:
497K page size
14.4K 385.74 seconds
28.8K 192.97 seconds
33.6K 165.43 seconds
56K 99.34 seconds
ISDN 128K 30.56 seconds
T1 1.44Mbps 2.84 seconds
Like I said before, when you’ve had broadband for awhile it is easy to forgot just how slow things are when you are on dialup.
I also wouldn’t mind scaling mine down if required. I’m planning on redesigning it more compact when I have some time anyway.
In my opinion, I don’t think size (as in bytes) for sigs around 30k is an issue. Don’t most browsers display the page text first so you can start reading while everything is downloading… I’ve not been on 56k now for 3 years so I can’t remember what it’s like! I think the problem is with images that start approaching 100k, then pages take minutes to download on slow connections.
Signatures with images around 300px high are just too big I think. As bwawsc said, if it’s bigger than the content it’s too much of a distraction.
I think it would be nice to have a guideline though. I rationalized mine because it wasn’t physically big, and some sigs were 2x the filesize, but the posters here are right, get a few of those on a page and that’s a lot of bits 'n bytes for someone to download.
Sort of. But there are two big problems with that due to the way signatures work…
The browser can’t allocate screen space for a signature until it’s been downloaded because it doesn’t know how big the image is until it’s downloaded all of it. So the HTML downloads and displays and you start reading, but then it whizzes off the screen as the images arrive and force the browser to render the page again (and again) to make them fit.
The re-rendering problem is made worse because even with a fast broadband link all the signatures are downloaded from other web servers and they may not be as fast (or may even be faster!) than weather-watch.com. So you get the HTML and a couple of signatures (from a fast server) and the page renders. You start reading and then another signature arrives from a slower server, forcing the render the page again and in the process lose your place in the text. You find your place again and then a distant server wakes up after 30 seconds and sends the last signature image, forcing the browser to render the page again and you to lose your place again.
We can’t do much about slow servers/Internet links, but maybe smaller image files might speed things up a little even on a slower server/link.
If people had standard(ish) sized signatures, then it might be possible to make the pages allocate some space for the image without making the pages look weird when displaying posts from people who don’t use signatures.
One other thing to bear in mind…weather-watch.com gets quite a lot of hits each month. If you have a big signature file on your server (and you post a lot) you could end up with a fair amount of your bandwidth consumed by people reading forum messages downloading your signature. People with limited bandwidth web server accounts need to think carefully about this one!
I agree that some may be excessive, including my own, which i have reduced back to a single .gif just 11.03 kb…
I know many forums have file size restrictions, and if any restriction was placed on sigs I would recommend file size versus physical size, though some thought as to how large they are should be just common sense… just my two cents
Or to put it another way, approx 250MB per month for a 9k image. If I used a 70k image (and there are some of those) that’s 2.5GB per month just for a sig image! If your webserver has a low monthly capped bandwidth that could make a serious dent in it!!
Your 31kb signature isn’t the one we’re having an issue with, it’s those that are much larger than your’s, both pixel wise and byte wise.
I think I saw someone’s image that was around 140kb in here the other day, that not only was large bytewise, but was also very large pixelwise. Once you get a few of those posts in a thread, it takes a quite while to fully load that page.
I suggested a ‘rubbery’ 20kb limit, and by ‘rubbery’ I mean that the target is 20kb, and your 31kb one would fit in that ‘rubbery’ 20kb limit, as it wasn’t large pixel wise.