Code bloat

From the change wiki

Many of today's apps & websites are built inefficiently and become worse over time. They take ever more computing power(...)( such as CPU usage, RAM, disk storage space, and battery power ), for nearly the same amount of features & functionality. The software eventually becomes too slow for older devices - even when there's nothing physically wrong with the older devices.


Email in web browsers

Hotmail has become slower with every update. While there has been some increase in features for the user, all of them could have been implemented far more efficiently. (...)( Their entire JavaScript codebase probably needs to be refactored from the ground up. They seem to be relying on complex APIs to do simple things. )

Gmail is similar. There used to be a "basic HTML" version that was extremely fast & responsive, but it was discontinued in March 2024.

Video apps

TikTok is known to slow down phones, decrease battery life(...)( even when the app isn't open - this suggests that something intensive(...)( user data collection / tracking, perhaps? ) is running in the background ), and use a lot of storage space. Technically there is no justification for this. If you look at all of TikTok's features, almost all of them(...)( except a few advanced video effects that aren't used often ) could run far more efficiently(even on older phones), if the app was coded properly.

YouTube generally runs a lot smoother on the same phone, with the same video quality. However, YouTube is known to be slow on some desktop computers(...)( This may also be the fault of web browsers(...)( such as Chrome and Firefox, especially on Linux )that don't use GPU-accelerated video codecs, and thus have to rely 100% on CPU. When any scripts load on the page, this occupies the CPU, causing the video to stall for a few seconds at a time. ).

Almost all computers & smartphones made after 2010 are physically capable of playing video files. When a video app is slow, it's the fault of the developers.

News websites

The website's job is display text, images, and the occasional video. Computers have been capable of this for decades. But some websites are loaded up with so many scripts that they become slow for most of the users.

Some of this is data tracking, but not all of it. There's also the way most web developers build websites: with layers and layers of complex tools/frameworks just to do simple things. (...)( There's a common misconception that tools are saving time for the developer, when often they do the opposite in the long run. ) A web developer might even be unaware of how slow their website really is, because they're developing it on a brand-new computer with an ultra-fast internet connection (which most people don't have).

Why it's a problem

People are effectively forced to buy new electronics, far sooner than they would otherwise need to. This makes life unnecessarily expensive, and takes a heavy toll on the environment.


Most people are probably unaware that code bloat even exists. It's commonly accepted that computers just get "slower" over time - even though there's no physical reason why this has to happen. Circuit boards aren't cars - they don't slow down as they get old. It's the software that becomes slow.

What causes code bloat

  • Most code bloat is probably from widespread bad practices in software development. [ELABORATION needed]
  • Some code bloat is done intentionally by corporations: either to promote planned obsolescence, or to collect user data, or both. However, corporations are only part of the problem; non-corporate open-source software projects can be just as bloated.

No matter if it's due to malice or just bad practice, the effects are the same.


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See also

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