So, there's a new thing that came out today. It's not really that new, and it's locked down to one type of (albeit fairly popular) type of machine. The new thing lets sites tell you "Hey! New stuff!" and provides you a way to do things with it.
Now, mind you, i'd find something like that annoying as hell, just like i find new mail dings, twitter notifications, and other bits i can't silence when i'm working or focused on something else, but i digress.
That said, some friends were talking about having a setup so that they can get notifications when a new webcomic is available.
Yeah, no. You don't really want that.
Let me start by stating the obvious things:
- Web comic artists, with VERY few exceptions, are not hard core coders. If it ain't a WordPress plugin, they're not going to use it.
- Most webcomics also allow you to specify the time to publish. Most artists set this to be "midnight". What "midnight" is depends on where they are and where their server is, but generally it's 9 or 12pm Pacific (12, and 3 EST). There are some that update on Mountain or Central, but not a lot of comics do. Mostly for sanity and self preservation reasons, a lot of artists will have a backlog, so publishing to a clock is easy as well.
- Speaking of WordPress, most webcomics have RSS available, and it requires zero effort for the author to support it.
- Not everyone has a mac, so the extra effort involved in providing support for this feature is something only useful for a fraction of your audience. (i'll note that for one comic i do support for, 1/6th of the readers are macs)
Now, all that said. What are the things that folks want?
Well, they want to know when a comic is available. A comic generally doesn't have a freshness date or a contest associated with it, but if you're sitting and refreshing that often, you've got other issues. It's also fairly safe to say that comics update "overnight".
Personally? i run tt-rss on a server that's fed the RSS feed urls for the comics i follow. Most nights, at around 9PM Pacific, i'll walk the list of comics and see what's new. There are a couple of comics that follow a "publish whenever" model (PvP and Questionable Content seem to be in that category), but even then, doing the 9PM walk picks them up.
No, i don't know the very second that a new comic is published. Also considering that most comics are on small, affordable webservers that aren't powered by vast CDNs, and a fair number of hosting providers throttle or charge for extra bandwidth, i'm betting that the artist is pretty happy with this fact.
Granted, that's not to say that some folks might want to be blitzed by announcements at midnight and 3AM, and i'm fine with some third party offering that, but i'm not really sure i can see the point or benefit of individual sites offering that sort of service.
Of course, i'm not a 13 year old who just got a facebook account and turned on notifications for EVERYTHING BECAUSE OMG! i CAN BE POPULAR!!!1!
i'm a close to 50 year old guy that got tired of the crap screaming for my attention and decided that it's better when i can give attention rather than have thing grab for it.