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Is a weblog by Emma Humphries

There is no 'website obesity crisis'

14 Jun 2020

Today I learned about a new blog publishing tool, which announces on their homepage: “There is a website obesity crisis.”

Web design and development blogs call out “bloated sites.” Maciej from Idlewords/Pinboard fame does a whole talk on it with images of chonky cats for emphasis. We get exhortations to keep our sites “trim” and “lightweight.”

But the thing is, there’s no website ‘obesity’ crisis.

There’s a crisis on the mobile web because we don’t optimize for people on low bandwidth devices with data caps, and mobile browsing experience is terrible.

There’s a crisis with ads on the web because people are (rightfully) blocking them, sites are losing revenue, and the only people benefitting from the ads are the ad tech firms.

There’s a crisis with tracking on the web because it’s creepy, violates people’s privacy, and adds to the overhead of requesting a page.

But these are not ‘obesity,’ these are structural, political, design, and technical problems (many of which have solutions.)

So stop labeling it an ‘obesity crisis.’ That shames fat people, is ableist, and doesn’t even describe the problem correctly.

As Christie Koehler says, all technical decisions are political. That includes what you call a socio-technical problem.

Do better.