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'The Web is Not Google, and Should Not be Just Google': Developers Express Concerns About AMP (ampletter.org) 99

A group of prominent developers published an open-letter on Tuesday, outlining their deep concerns about Accelerated Mobile Pages, a project by Google that aims to improve user experience of the Web. Google services already dominate the Web, and the scale at which AMP is growing, it could further reinforce Google's dominance of the Web, developers wrote. The letter acknowledges that web pages could be slow at times, but the solutions out there to address them -- AMP, Facebook's Instant Articles, Apple News -- are creating problems of their own, developers say. From the letter: Search engines are in a powerful position to wield influence to solve this problem. However, Google has chosen to create a premium position at the top of their search results (for articles) and a "lightning" icon (for all types of content), which are only accessible to publishers that use a Google-controlled technology, served by Google from their infrastructure, on a Google URL, and placed within a Google controlled user experience. The AMP format is not in itself, a problem, but two aspects of its implementation reinforce the position of Google as a de facto standard platform for content, as Google seeks to drive uptake of AMP with content creators: Content that "opts in" to AMP and the associated hosting within Google's domain is granted preferential search promotion, including (for news articles) a position above all other results. When a user navigates from Google to a piece of content Google has recommended, they are, unwittingly, remaining within Google's ecosystem.

If Google's objective with AMP is indeed to improve user experience on the Web, then we suggest some simple changes that would do that while still allowing the Web to remain dynamic, competitive and consumer-oriented: Instead of granting premium placement in search results only to AMP, provide the same perks to all pages that meet an objective, neutral performance criterion such as Speed Index. Publishers can then use any technical solution of their choice. Do not display third-party content within a Google page unless it is clear to the user that they are looking at a Google product. It is perfectly acceptable for Google to launch a "news reader," but it is not acceptable to display a page that carries only third party branding on what is actually a Google URL, nor to require that third party to use Google's hosting in order to appear in search results. We don't want to stop Google's development of AMP, and these changes do not require that.

'The Web is Not Google, and Should Not be Just Google': Developers Express Concerns About AMP

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:33PM (#55895535)
    >> Content that "opts in" to AMP and the associated hosting within Google's domain is granted preferential search promotion

    In the web's evolving history, FTP-served content was the first to disappear from search engines, then HTTP-only content (Google dropped priority of these sites years ago) and now its HTTPS. As long as AMP is a patent-free, open standard and (like HTTP and then HTTPS) it's trivial to implement, I have no problem with this.
    • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @03:35PM (#55895999)

      Simply building an AMP compatible site isn't enough though. To get the preferential search promotion you need to have Google host it.

      • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

        EU law suit and sanctions coming up!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Have Google host it" would seem to imply that this is a decision separate from building an AMP-compatible site.

        In fact, AMP is designed such that it can easily be copied onto another domain without any additional effort on the part of the author, so building an AMP site automatically allows copies of it to be hosted on other sites, of which Google is the main example.

        It's also possible for other sites -- slashdot, for example, if they wanted to -- to run a similar AMP proxy and get the same user-experience

  • by sanf780 ( 4055211 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:35PM (#55895551)
    You cannot navigate many webpages without JavaScript enabled. Ghostery is telling me there are over 17 trackers on slashdot. Many of these slow down the initial web page render.

    As such, anything that forces web developers to make fast loading pages makes me happier.

    • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:40PM (#55895579)

      So you hate trackers but are fine with loading pages from the largest analytics tracking company on the web? lolwut?

      • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:49PM (#55895641)
        Abso-fucking-lutely would rather have websites just use Google Analytics over 17 rando shit trackers. With Google I have the ability to go look at how I'm being tracked and there's only one site to block if I want to try to opt out of being tracked. With 17 crap sites plugging garbage in, I'm going to have slow renders, weird errors, and no way in hell of ever figuring out who has a piece of my information pie.
        • by Desler ( 1608317 )

          Or you can just use a tool like ublock origin, disconnect or ghostery and it’s all just done for you? Who actually has to manually block trackers these days? Are you using some stone age browser like IE6 or Netscape Navigator 4?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          With Google I have the ability to go look at how I'm being tracked

          !? Teach me!

          I had no idea that Google was leaking all their trade secrets and there are ways for non-Google-employees to infer how you're being tracked.

          But anyway, given the above..

          With 17 crap sites plugging garbage in, I'm going to have slow renders, weird errors, and no way in hell of ever figuring out who has a piece of my information pie.

          ..is that the reason that you think Google should be the one of those 17 crap sites, to whom we awa

      • Better the devil you know.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Better no devil in the middle at all which is the entire point of the article.

      • Yes. With Google, I know what they will do with my data. They will use it to place ads for their clients. It is very unlikely that they will sell it to third parties, because that would come at a heavy cost with very little benefit.

        For the other trackers, I have no idea what they will do with the information they gather.

    • uMatrix is your friend. I navigate just fine while whitelisting some sites, and blacklisting all ad-related and tracking JavaScript. It's easy to use for any geek on slashdot. But not for granny.

      By default uMatrix pretty much only allows 1st party JavaScript which is a good compromise. Then sometimes features don't work. For example sites using Disqust (disgust) for comments. You can then selectively enable that one with a simple click if you want to read comments. Or some sites have videos that r
      • May I add . . . uMatrix also speeds up browsing. Removes ads, some other media, etc. So it lessens the need for AMP.
    • Ghostery is telling me there are over 17 trackers on slashdot.

      15 to be precise ... 11 advertising and four analytics.

    • UBlock Origin (in dynamic mode, default-deny on 3rd-party scripts and frames), Privacy Badger, Cookie AutoDelete, Decentraleyes, Link Cleaner, Smart Referer, these are the minimum toolkit needed to reasonably use the web today, and even then some annoying Javascript is present.

      Default-deny on all active content is the next step, but with how JS-heavy the web is these days, also hugely aggravating.

  • by 404 Clue Not Found ( 763556 ) * on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:38PM (#55895565)

    Publishers had years to get their shit together and make the mobile experience better. They universally failed, opting for cluttered crap, shit UIs, and horribly intrusive ads. AMP changed that and forced Facebook to follow suit with the lightning articles, and the mobile news reading experience is *infinitely* better now. This is just those same disgruntled publishers trying to wring back control, but guess what? Behave like kids and Google will treat you like one. They don't deserve that kind of freedom.

    No, thanks. As a user, I would trust Google far more than the shitty media conglomerates and their shitty websites. The only thing that matters is the article content. I don't want your fluffy parallaxed bullshit fancy animated infovideograms, just the text and a couple light text ads, if you must.

    • just the text and a couple light text ads, if you must.

      If you run uBlock Origin in medium mode you can get rid of almost anything but that by default

      https://github.com/gorhill/uBl... [github.com]

      Google's solution of them hosting the content with means they can run their ads on it, not the ones that the original website wanted.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )

        AFAIK Google only promotes AMP for mobile devices so Android + Firefox is the only combination where ublock origin is relevant. Personally I do use Firefox on Android as my mobile browser but almost no one else does, nor is the performance optimal unfortunately.

        Google's solution of them hosting the content with means they can run their ads on it, not the ones that the original website wanted.

        Google restricts the types and styles of ads (part of the whole purpose is an optimized experience) but doesn't limit it to their own service AFAIK

        • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @03:24PM (#55895925)

          Firefox + uBlock origin works pretty well for me on Android. It's faster than Chrome.

          • Me too. Firefox is the best browser on Android, and the fact that it can run uBlock Origin (which the Android version of Chrome strangely can't, even though its desktop version can) is the main reason for that.

          • Firefox Focus works even better.

            • by Luthair ( 847766 )
              Isn't it single tab?
              • You can have multiple tabs in Firefox Focus, but you have to force it:
                Long Tap on a link, <open in new tab>; the bottom Trash Icon becomes #ofTabs.

                The Trash Icon should be [+] New Tab, with Long Press as Trash. Or user configurable. It's stupid, but forgiveable.

                Other than that, FF Focus is overly eager to wipe your browsing history, which for some may be a negative.

          • by jjbenz ( 581536 )
            That's what I use and it hasn't failed me yet.
          • What does that have to do with AMP? You can still view AMP pages.

            AMP isn't really browser-based, it just enforces basic HTML + basic JS + Google caching. What it does is cut out the crap that bad publishers add (excessive/poorly coded HTML, a shit ton of third-party JS, annoying animated ads, horrible UIs, etc.). You can and should use AMP with adblock and whatever browser you like.

            • You said you only wanted "just the text and a couple light text ads, if you must."

              My point is that you don't need Google to do adblock for you - you can do it yourself with uBlock Origin. That will convert any web page to "just the text and a couple light text ads".

              You shouldn't rely on an ad company, and Google basically is an ad company, to do your adblocking. And AMP is cancerous because it means Google end up serving all the web pages and deciding what ads run. Basically they end up owning the Internet

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Publishers had years to get their shit together and make the mobile experience better. They universally failed, opting for cluttered crap, shit UIs, and horribly intrusive ads. AMP changed that and forced Facebook to follow suit with the lightning articles, and the mobile news reading experience is *infinitely* better now. This is just those same disgruntled publishers trying to wring back control, but guess what? Behave like kids and Google will treat you like one. They don't deserve that kind of freedom.

      No, thanks. As a user, I would trust Google far more than the shitty media conglomerates and their shitty websites. The only thing that matters is the article content. I don't want your fluffy parallaxed bullshit fancy animated infovideograms, just the text and a couple light text ads, if you must.

      That, son, is your problem.

      You actually seem to trust Google.

    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Mobile news reading is horrible with AMP pages as it breaks things like the Mobile Safari reader functionality. Reading pages with Reader is way better than with shitty AMP and having to deal with website designers that use shitty, unreadable fonts and font sizes.

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @03:34PM (#55895991) Journal

      AMP changed that and forced Facebook to follow suit with the lightning articles, and the mobile news reading experience is *infinitely* better now.

      Bullshit on all accounts. Facebook's Instant Articles predated [wikipedia.org]Google's AMP [wikipedia.org] by several months, and Google is the one who was following.

      Mobile news is markedly worse with AMP; I've read several accounts where publishers lament that it's slower than their native version.

      My first sign that AMP is horribly broken is that every single AMP page I've ever visited all point to "google.com", and the URL bar shows "google.com" regardless of the site I'm actually visiting. Phishers can (and have) conceal pretty much anything behind AMP [thesempost.com], and few users would have a clue because they see the lock with "google.com" at the top of their browser.

      The next problem with AMP is that you can't turn it off: Google feeds you AMP pages if you use a mobile browser, and you have to load the AMP page first and then click to additional times to get to the non-AMP page.

      The alternative is to use a different search engine, which is what a lot of us are doing.

      AMP is a bigger problem than anything it was trying to replace.

      • Oops, I was wrong about the dates and stand corrected. (Didn't realize Facebook came first).

        As for speed, publishers will always find edge cases to demonize Google with because they don't want to be commoditized and Google is the devil they chose to work with. By and large, as a user, AMP has dramatically sped up the web. Given a choice, I'll always choose the AMP version over the non.

        I don't have the stats to back up that anecdote over the industry... at least not stuff that doesn't come from Google itself

    • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @04:31PM (#55896323) Journal

      No, thanks. As a user, I would trust Google far more than the shitty media conglomerates and their shitty websites.

      Google is a shitty media conglomerate.

      You do know that ... right?

      • Not really (as in they don't do much publishing of their own). They're most just a merchant/advertisement marketplace with a few niche hardware/software offerings. They organize the publications other people write, make them more easily accessible, and then skim off the top... essentially blackmailing publishers and bribing users with low/free cost and better usability. If they weren't so big and corporate, they'd be the pirate heroes of the web.

    • Google's AMP breaks a central rule - it breaks the back button completely. Also, on Safari on iOS, it prompts you to enable location services every. single. time. Google is not a shining example at mobile web experiences. I absolutely hate AMP and I always avoid results with that lightning bolt.
  • as Intel has long since proven, it's easy-peasy to cheat benchmarks.
  • Meet the (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @02:45PM (#55895613)

    new boss. [google.com]

    Same as the old boss. [microsoft.com]

  • I don't know about the rest of you but I recognize precisely zero of those names.
  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @03:50PM (#55896067) Homepage

    The web is not slow. There actually is no problem.

    Individual sites are slow, because they load ridiculous quantities of scripts and third-party content. They deserve to be slow. Three examples:

    - Homepage of an eCommerce site, would like to compete with Amazon: 1.1MB of data, 74 requests, 2.1 seconds load time.

    - Homepage of a major newspaper 1.3MB of data, 80 requests, 3.2 seconds load time.

    - Homepage of a small eCommerce site that I manage: 130kb of data, 14 requests, 350ms load time. Where's the problem?

    tl;dr: It's their own damned fault. If they insist on zillions of trackers, annoying content and huge JS frameworks - well, there's a penalty to be paid.

    • So the solution is for websites to just create reduced versions of themselves for mobile use? Maybe sticking to a subset of HTML, using minimal JS, that kind of thing?

      Perhaps someone could put together a framework and maybe even a standard to make it easier for web designers to follow. That way they'd be able to comply with it easily, and know immediately if they're adding too much stuff.

      We could call it... I don't know... something to do with accelerated mobile web pages... what about Web Acceleration

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A better solution is to just not pull in all that crap for the desktop version, and the mobile version will automatically be good to go :) A single javascript library is usually pretty lightweight and doesn't slow things down to where you would notice...but using multiple ones (why is this even necessary?) does, as does multiple trackers and ads and so on...the solution isn't AMP, it's write sites without at all that extra crap...easier than learning AMP and makes life better everywhere :)

        • That'd be a better solution if and only if you didn't lose functionality by doing so. The reason for many of those JS libraries is to make the desktop website fully functional. AMP is specifically for single article type posts.
    • Everything you said was right except the 'huge JS framework part'. Those are all cached on the client and so the entirety of loading them is reading the HTTP headers and comparing the 'Last-Modified' field. Total query is one round trip and 50 bytes, plus the rare occasion where the contents have changed and you have to load the entire thing.

  • Didn't RTFA. What's the problem? AFAICT AMP is an open standard suggested by Google. Is this some new petty RSS wars thing? Can someone explain?

    • A standard completely controlled by Google can hardly be called “open” in anything but the loosest of terms.

    • Didn't RTFA. What's the problem? AFAICT AMP is an open standard suggested by Google. Is this some new petty RSS wars thing? Can someone explain?

      Google by virtue of defacto search monopoly is compelling content to use Google hosted AMP in order to receive a higher search ranking vs. someone electing not to participate.

      This has NOTHING to do with whether AMP is good or not as a technical standard or whether people with slow crappy web sites deserve lower ranking vs. those with faster web sites.

      It has everything to do with Google leveraging a very substantial near total monopoly position to force the industry to bend to its will in a way that stands t

  • Didn't I read a slashdot story a couple of days ago how Google Chrome is usurping the web by insisting on being the "browser of choice"? Google are really pushing it, and I think they might get away with it. https://tech.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]
  • Given that perception is reality, and Google is the dominate web experience, the behavior of Google is indistinguishable and therefore THE web experience.
    If it looks, quacks, and walks like a duck, it's a duck.
  • by neutrino38 ( 1037806 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @07:29AM (#55899625) Homepage Journal

    Let us invent another new binary format, that is self contained (pictures, media, etc) with a rich API.
    Each page would be a sigle file that coulb be cached by the browser. Nobody would be able to twick its content once deployed.
    Of course we would need to have a specific editor to edit and compile it.

    MMmmm and as it will be very fast, let us call it Flash.

    Oh and by the way, as I do not expect a native implementation I would suggest to add it as a plugin first.

  • Here is a link to a part-time job i came across, Feel free to apply if interested in making an extra income. https://promotionaldrivecom.wo... [wordpress.com]

The difference between a career and a job is about 20 hours a week.

Working...