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(Inc)   Should drivers merge as soon as possible, or should they wait to merge until the lane actually ends? Here comes the science   ( inc.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, lane, closing lane, left lane, center lane, rude drivers, Traffic, about-to-close lane, traffic flow  
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3023 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Oct 2017 at 1:02 AM (9 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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kab
2017-10-06 08:51:12 AM  
This shouldn't matter really   You have x number of cars to get through a 1 lane scenario.   How quickly they merge isn't what's slowing things down... the pace of the cars already IN the single lane scenario dictate how slow everyone behind goes.   And the science is ignoring the fact that plenty of people in the left lane won't let last minute guy in, and that sort of stuff slows the process rather than speeding it up.

If you're an end of lane type, and drive past fairly obvious gaps in the hope that another one opens 200 yards down the road, fark you.. you deserve to just sit for a while.
 
2017-10-06 08:51:28 AM  
Christ, not this again. It ONLY works if EVERYONE is playing by the same rules which, no, they're not. As soon as two cars from the same lane trying to squeeze in, the whole system breaks down.
 
2017-10-06 08:58:09 AM  

RobotSpider: Christ, not this again. It ONLY works if EVERYONE is playing by the same rules which, no, they're not. As soon as two cars from the same lane trying to squeeze in, the whole system breaks down.


Make it a law to allow alternate cars in. Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.

Works great here.
 
2017-10-06 09:04:28 AM  

enry: Meege when the lane ends.  But don't think you can cut into an exit by driving down an open lane that isn't part of the exit lane and cut in at the last second.


I used to do it all the time. If I look ahead and there are heavy trucks in the exit lane, I know there is going to be a gap in front of them. About once a month I had to take the long way home because there wasn't a space to pull in

Fortunately I don't have to take that damn exit anymore. It was literally 20 to 30 minute wait if you pulled into the exit lane immediately. The long way was actually quicker.

/also never used turn signal
//assholes would speed up to block you
/// love NJ drivers.
 
2017-10-06 09:16:08 AM  

BafflerMeal: RobotSpider: Christ, not this again. It ONLY works if EVERYONE is playing by the same rules which, no, they're not. As soon as two cars from the same lane trying to squeeze in, the whole system breaks down.

Make it a law to allow alternate cars in. Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.

Works great here.


Our law enforcement agencies would go broke from the printing costs alone.  We Americans are VERY shiatty drivers.
 
2017-10-06 09:16:24 AM  

BafflerMeal: Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.


Because parking a cop and pulling over cars will totally improve the flow of traffic.
 
2017-10-06 09:16:47 AM  

Befuddled: Those apparently rude drivers are putting more of the roadway to use and thus helping speed things along.

No, they are not. They are creating a bigger bottleneck where the lane ends. They benefit at the expense of everyone behind them. If their explanation made sense, then the way you change from four lanes to one is shut all three lanes at once rather than one at a time gradually.


Name checks out

Even here in Florida, most people understand the zipper merge pretty well.
 
2017-10-06 09:23:57 AM  

RobotSpider: BafflerMeal: Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.

Because parking a cop and pulling over cars will totally improve the flow of traffic.


Well you've tried nothing so far. You must be out of ideas.
 
2017-10-06 09:25:25 AM  
If you want to see how the zipper merge works, just go to The Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour.

5 lanes merge into 1 at full speed. Drivers leave a car length open, plus an extra 3 inches for good measure.

Even though New Yorkers are generally aggressive assholes on the road, the zipper merge works perfectly. It's like watching ballet.

If you want to see it fail, drive down the 405 into LA. 6 lanes goes down to 5 and there's a 9 mile backup.
 
2017-10-06 09:32:37 AM  

RobotSpider: BafflerMeal: Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.

Because parking a cop and pulling over cars will totally improve the flow of traffic.


Camera. Mail them the ticket.
 
2017-10-06 09:38:44 AM  

UsikFark: dyhchong: What a poorly built website.

*loads entire page*
Then tries to redirect you to the more local version because... Page load times?

Literally got pictures and started reading the article when this popped up. The most local version is now already on my phone.

[img.fark.net image 422x750]

Should a website redirect as soon as possible or should it wait to redirect until the page actually loads? Here comes the science.


img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-06 09:42:36 AM  
Many people have pointed out that this only works if everyone is following the rules.  Like that is ever going to happen.  Many studies have shown that one driver can disrupt traffic flow.
 
2017-10-06 09:42:50 AM  
I can see how it works better but it requires everyone being on the same page.  Not going to happen in certain areas where congestion is unkown.  My area, ya no one is going to be practiced up.  Congestion is 5 minutes added to a 20 mile drive maybe happening twice ayear.  Areas where it is congested, learn it.
 
2017-10-06 09:51:07 AM  
This thread is giving me flashback to when I lived in CT. I hate the entire highway system in that state. The Charter Oak Bridge backup, the I-91S/I-691/15 ramp mess, I-84/I-91 through Hartford and Waterbury, the 95/91/34 mess in New Haven, unfinished highways (11, 9, 384, the piece of 6 in Columbia/Willimantic that was supposed to be part of 384), on ramps that become the next exit in a quarter mile, STOP SIGNS on the 200ft on ramps further south on 15 (where people tend to go 75 in a 55 zone), the traffic light in the middle of Middletown on 9... Then factor in all the assholes on the roads.
 
2017-10-06 10:07:24 AM  
CSB: Driving on highway when I saw the construction notice that the left lane was closed in 2 miles and everyone would have to merge right. Sure enough, people started getting in the right lane, creating a one lane backup of almost 2 miles. Meanwhile the left lane was completely empty. I got in the left lane and drove almost all the way to the merge point. As I got closer a trucker saw me coming so slid his semi over so it straddled the lanes and wouldn't let me go further, at one point making me go on the shoulder. I merged in behind him and, when the lanes split again I went to pass him. He kept jockeying to block me. Finally I was able to get past him and as I did he flipped me off.

Got revenge though by calling the highway patrol to report a truck driver that was driving recklessly and endangering other vehicles.
 
2017-10-06 10:10:23 AM  

dentalhilljack: BafflerMeal: RobotSpider: Christ, not this again. It ONLY works if EVERYONE is playing by the same rules which, no, they're not. As soon as two cars from the same lane trying to squeeze in, the whole system breaks down.

Make it a law to allow alternate cars in. Write tickets. Fix arsehole problem.

Works great here.

Our law enforcement agencies would go broke from the printing costs alone.  We Americans are VERY shiatty  selfish drivers.


FTFY
 
2017-10-06 10:30:09 AM  

lucksi: We (Germany) needed a law that regulates merging. You have to stay in your lane until it ends and the drivers in the other lane have to let you merge (zipper style)

It actually works better IMHO based on the decades of driving experience and the few years that we now have this law.


I have no doubt that zipper merging is more efficient, but the lack of law makes it shiatty here. On one side you have the people that won't let anyone in. In the other side you have the people that will use a lane that's about to close to literally get out of the lane they were already in and get in further up.
 
2017-10-06 10:49:18 AM  

PoweredByIrony: That's what I do, and most mornings I wind up racing the front 2 or 3 cars who don't want to give up their position at the head of the line.


Good. So they're making room for you to merge ahead of the rest of the line.
 
2017-10-06 10:50:38 AM  

Mouren: People that speed to the end break the first rule of merging: Match the speed of the lane you're merging into
Passing everyone with your turn signal on and then being frustrated when you run out of road is idiotic.


Speed limit signs need to be posted at the top of the on ramp for those drivers who think merging into 80 mph traffic is optimal when you're slogging along at 40 mph.

img.fark.netView Full Size


Which could be installed with money saved by not posting signs like this:

img.fark.netView Full Size

...since nobody reads them anyway.
 
2017-10-06 10:56:01 AM  

Mouren: People that speed to the end break the first rule of merging: Match the speed of the lane you're merging into
Passing everyone with your turn signal on and then being frustrated when you run out of road is idiotic.


No, that is the third rule, the first is 'do not merge early', the second is 'let people merge'.
 
2017-10-06 10:59:35 AM  

NotARocketScientist: FTFA: Those apparently rude drivers are putting more of the roadway to use and thus helping speed things along, in much the same way water flows faster through a funnel than through a straw.

Damn I hate it when people maul physics. Water flows faster through a funnel because there is increased pressure and the water has someplace it can go, so it does. We are not physically pushing cars through - the amount of traffic behind you doesn't increase your speed.

The fastest way to move things is with laminar (smooth) flow. The ONLY way that can happen with people merging at the last minute is if all of the cars have plenty of space between them. That doesn't happen because the cars behind are going faster than the cars in front, so they bunch up. People trying to get in at the last minute disturb the laminar flow of traffic. Someone has to slow further/stop for that dick-weed to get in, which slows the process more, making people bunch up more and around we go on the vicious cycle thing.


The zipper works fine in the extreme situations, but confusion arises in intermediate states.

Merging causes the cars behind to slow down, so a traveling wave of slowness ripples back upstream. If there are gaps between groups of cars, the gaps absorb the ripple. If people aren't zippering and are merging early, the traveling wave simply begins further upstream than at the end of the lane, but anger develops when people pass those who merged early.

When congestion reaches a point where both lanes are moving slowly, the zipper flows smoothly although continually emitting traveling waves upstream. But people upstream will be moving at the maximum (slow) speed in two lanes, so the overall traffic as measured before the zipper is faster than the true flow rate at the zipper.

What the zipper actually does is stop people from jumping ahead of others who already merged.
 
2017-10-06 11:09:31 AM  
If you're in the lane which is ending, and everyone in your lane ahead of you is easily merging over because traffic is moving at a steady clip, and you decide you're going to pass as many cars as you can before you merge, you're an asshole.
 
2017-10-06 11:12:17 AM  
I'll always extol the virtues of the zipper merge since it's the most efficient way, but people are assholes so it doesn't always work.

What frequently gets lost in this discussion are the situations where the merge happens on non highway/freeway roads, where it usually becomes a congested bumper to bumper crawl during peak travel times.  In those situations just drive to the front of the line and take turns at the front.  It's quite simple.

I've had one of these in my daily commute for over a decade and for the most part people make it work.  However, all I ask is don't be this guy...

img.fark.netView Full Size


The passive aggressive asshole who thinks someone put them in charge of dictating traffic flow and patterns.
 
2017-10-06 11:15:54 AM  
It doesn't really matter if they merge as soon as possible or use the whole lane. What farks up traffic is when people totter onto the freeway at 35 miles per hour and then only after they are in traffic, decide to accelerate to freeway speed. The ramp advisory speed of 35 does not pertain to the on-ramp, it is designed to accelerate to freeway speed before you merge and cause a 2 mile long wave of stopped cars and rear end accidents.
 
2017-10-06 11:30:11 AM  
In an ideal world there is only ONE merge point - and it really doesn't matter much where that occurs, as long as it only occurs ONCE.  The problem most people run into is when folks merge early, and then another batch of cars zooms up the open lane and jams into another merge point at the end, and that repeats itself over and over again.  Articles like this don't help - road signage might.  Fer instance, if you actually want people to only merge right at the lane closure, why are you putting up signs 1/2 mile out telling people the lane is closed?  Shouldn't the signs telling folks to merge be placed closer to the actual merge point?  Traffic will naturally slow down as it backs up so you wouldn't need to worry about cars slamming into the lane closure at 85mph.
 
2017-10-06 11:43:19 AM  

Teufelaffe: Befuddled: Those apparently rude drivers are putting more of the roadway to use and thus helping speed things along.

No, they are not. They are creating a bigger bottleneck where the lane ends. They benefit at the expense of everyone behind them. If their explanation made sense, then the way you change from four lanes to one is shut all three lanes at once rather than one at a time gradually.

So, did you not read the article or did you just decide that you know more about traffic patterns than the people who did the studies?


The issue is that there's two parts to the merging late thing that must be taken together for it to work better:

1) Merge late.
2) Zipper together.

That's undoubtedly the best, quickest way to improve traffic flow. What happens in the real world, though, is that people merge late and then refuse to zipper together, instead jumping ahead of the merge point so they can shove in at an even later spot.
 
2017-10-06 11:48:36 AM  

MechaPyx: Fine. But that asshole that gets in the right turn lane and cuts in front of everyone when the light turns green can still die in a fire.


Hmm. In this state, changing lanes at an intersection is a major moving violation.
 
2017-10-06 12:04:22 PM  
It's pretty simple, actually.
If your merge cause the person behind you to use their brakes, you farked it up.
 
2017-10-06 12:11:34 PM  
Jeremy Clarkson said you should merge at the last possible minute.

Jeremy Clarkson is a pompous git, so therefore I merge as soon as possible, since I'd rather crawl along
and not have to worry about having to deal with inconsiderate dickweeds.
 
2017-10-06 12:13:08 PM  

kittyhas1000legs: This thread is giving me flashback to when I lived in CT. I hate the entire highway system in that state. The Charter Oak Bridge backup, the I-91S/I-691/15 ramp mess, I-84/I-91 through Hartford and Waterbury, the 95/91/34 mess in New Haven, unfinished highways (11, 9, 384, the piece of 6 in Columbia/Willimantic that was supposed to be part of 384), on ramps that become the next exit in a quarter mile, STOP SIGNS on the 200ft on ramps further south on 15 (where people tend to go 75 in a 55 zone), the traffic light in the middle of Middletown on 9... Then factor in all the assholes on the roads.


You forgot to mention all of the left exits off the freeway, which ensure you have plenty of slow as fark drivers in the leftmost lane...
 
2017-10-06 12:19:30 PM  

ArcadianRefugee: Befuddled: Those apparently rude drivers are putting more of the roadway to use and thus helping speed things along.

No, they are not. They are creating a bigger bottleneck where the lane ends. They benefit at the expense of everyone behind them. If their explanation made sense, then the way you change from four lanes to one is shut all three lanes at once rather than one at a time gradually.

[www.cbc.ca image 460x460]

[i.ytimg.com image 480x360]
"My gods.  The chaos.  Stop."


Then the signs need to say "Merge", not "Yield", and both (all) lanes need to operate with the same rights legally.   When the signs are saying something like "Left Lane Yield" or "Right Lane Yield" the understanding is that courtesy is optional for on lane.

/Most of the time I experience this on a motorcycle.
 
2017-10-06 12:21:13 PM  
Won't work.

Why?

Because we're all still just basically monkeys in shoes.  Like economics, traffic works the way it does much more because of human psychology rather than any kind of objective mathematical logic.  If we see someone 'unfairly' getting ahead of us, of course we're going to screech and caper about and throw our feces at him.

The ONLY way the 'zipper merge' will ever become widespread and accepted is with self-driving cars.
 
2017-10-06 12:39:17 PM  
Personally, I get in the lane I need to be in as soon as I can conveniently do so (for myself and other drivers) since it's one less thing I need to worry about later and I'd rather minimize my anxiety than travel time.

Drivers that speed through an empty merging lane so they can shove themselves into traffic at the last farking second just so they can be a few car lengths ahead can EABOD. Stop rationalizing it as "maximizing the efficiency of the traffic flow" because everyone has to slow down to let you in.
 
2017-10-06 12:46:57 PM  

Dhusk: Won't work.

Why?

Because we're all still just basically monkeys in shoes.  Like economics, traffic works the way it does much more because of human psychology rather than any kind of objective mathematical logic.  If we see someone 'unfairly' getting ahead of us, of course we're going to screech and caper about and throw our feces at him.

The ONLY way the 'zipper merge' will ever become widespread and accepted is with self-driving cars.


img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-06 01:00:03 PM  
semi irrelevant pro tip:

I like to go to the almost empty left-turn lane when the lights are red.  As soon as it turns green, you can almost guarantee that some shiathead will be looking down at their phone.  Viola.  Now you don't have to wait through three light changes.

/and they will probably just get moving when they are 800ft behind you.
 
2017-10-06 01:02:42 PM  

fusillade762: Dunno, but they should get the fark out of my way when I drive up behind them in a parking lot. I waited a full 30 seconds for this idiot to move earlier tonight before honking. He then pulls up to the light and when it turns green he just sits there. I wait ten seconds then honk again. Then this inattentive dickbag has the nerve to flip ME off.

/nscsb


And you didn't give a friendly tap o' the horn to acknowledge him?  Shame.
 
2017-10-06 01:14:08 PM  

pikov.yndropov: semi irrelevant pro tip:

I like to go to the almost empty left-turn lane when the lights are red.  As soon as it turns green, you can almost guarantee that some shiathead will be looking down at their phone.  Viola.  Now you don't have to wait through three light changes.

/and they will probably just get moving when they are 800ft behind you.


You are a disgrace to humanity, a scofflaw, and Click and Clack are ashamed they made you up.
 
2017-10-06 01:44:27 PM  

wejash: I'm not giving Inc a click for another "zippers are good" story. One-a-month is enough.


Zipper merge traffic theory ignores basic human behavior. Many people go flying up the closing lane as quickly as possible, to pass as many cars as possible, then a split second turn signal, cut right in front of someone, and hit the brakes so they don't rear-end the car now in front of them, and cause a sea of brake lights because everyone now has slow down quickly because they're an arse, resulting in a pretty good traffic jam. Because it's so slow in the one lane, more impatient people keep flying up the closing lane, and cutting people off while merging, in a vicious feedback loop, causing more slowness.

Zipper merging is one of those things that works great in theory, but it doesn't take many drivers being jerks for it to turn into a monumental clusterf*ck traffic jam and cause accidents.
 
2017-10-06 01:56:01 PM  

Tranquil Hegemony: Personally, I get in the lane I need to be in as soon as I can conveniently do so (for myself and other drivers) since it's one less thing I need to worry about later and I'd rather minimize my anxiety than travel time.

Drivers that speed through an empty merging lane so they can shove themselves into traffic at the last farking second just so they can be a few car lengths ahead can EABOD. Stop rationalizing it as "maximizing the efficiency of the traffic flow" because everyone has to slow down to let you in.


Once you've merged early, the people still in that lane might not have seen you so they don't know where they should merge. We're being taught to just go up to the sign and merge there. Or add a new indicator light that you flip on to tell everyone "I've merged, so don't pass me".
 
2017-10-06 02:53:18 PM  

inglixthemad: wejash: I'm not giving Inc a click for another "zippers are good" story. One-a-month is enough.

Zipper merge traffic theory ignores basic human behavior. Many people go flying up the closing lane as quickly as possible, to pass as many cars as possible, then a split second turn signal, cut right in front of someone, and hit the brakes so they don't rear-end the car now in front of them, and cause a sea of brake lights because everyone now has slow down quickly because they're an arse, resulting in a pretty good traffic jam. Because it's so slow in the one lane, more impatient people keep flying up the closing lane, and cutting people off while merging, in a vicious feedback loop, causing more slowness.

Zipper merging is one of those things that works great in theory, but it doesn't take many drivers being jerks for it to turn into a monumental clusterf*ck traffic jam and cause accidents.


Zipper merges are fine and work in lots of places around the world. The problem is the inherent selfishness and me first attitude of Americans.
 
2017-10-06 03:01:02 PM  
Quick answer: don't farking tailgate. Don't be an asshole, let someone in if they need to get in. This goes for everyone.
 
2017-10-06 03:25:02 PM  
The first and best (and only) rule is to match the speed of the lane you are merging into as soon as feasible, so that you can claim a spot without anyone having to hit the brakes too much.  Ziping to the end of the land and trying to slam over isn't a farking "zipper merge", it's getting the beans and the frank stuck in the zipper!
 
2017-10-06 04:30:01 PM  
The simplest solution is to change all merges into traffic circles.
 
2017-10-06 04:54:28 PM  

LesserEvil: The simplest solution is to change all merges into traffic circles.


That would certainly make traveling on the freeway more... interesting.
 
2017-10-06 04:59:09 PM  

LesserEvil: Zipper Merge is fine, IF both lanes are moving at the same speed and drivers in the lane to be merged into allow people to insert.

Unfortunately, those "rude drivers" speed much faster, and attempt to jam themselves in between cars too tightly packed, forcing traffic to halt while they cut people off.

It is the very same "rude drivers" who continue to use these idiotic "zipper merge" studies as justification for jamming up traffic, ignoring the part where they must not speed past the stop and got lane at 80mph and disrupt the flow at the merge point. In slowing down the merge into lane, more congestion is created, and the situation gets worse.

In theory, zipper merge works, in practice, it fails spectacularly.

Note that when a trucker or other driver pops back out into the merge-from lane, and maintains the same speed as the merge-into lane, traffic always speeds up in the merge-into lane. Assholes may not like it, but they are assholes. Fark them. Everybody on the highway just wants to get to their destination in a reasonable time.


That's what I have noticed, by me there is a zipper merge and if traffic is going at a nice speed they it works fine, one from the left, one from the right, etc. But then you get that turd in the punchbowl that has to get two cars ahead and throw off the rhythm.
 
2017-10-06 07:56:53 PM  

LesserEvil: The simplest solution is to change all merges into traffic circles.


I'm more a fan of diverging diamond intersections myself. There are two intersections* near me which would benefit from becoming DDIs.

Otherwise, yeah, more traffic circles too.

/*Lake-Cook Road and the tollway (I-94), and Willow Road and I-294
//Fark doesn't allow embedding google maps
///for now... [walks over to farkback]
 
2017-10-06 08:43:09 PM  

Norfolking Chance: inglixthemad: wejash: I'm not giving Inc a click for another "zippers are good" story. One-a-month is enough.

Zipper merge traffic theory ignores basic human behavior. Many people go flying up the closing lane as quickly as possible, to pass as many cars as possible, then a split second turn signal, cut right in front of someone, and hit the brakes so they don't rear-end the car now in front of them, and cause a sea of brake lights because everyone now has slow down quickly because they're an arse, resulting in a pretty good traffic jam. Because it's so slow in the one lane, more impatient people keep flying up the closing lane, and cutting people off while merging, in a vicious feedback loop, causing more slowness.

Zipper merging is one of those things that works great in theory, but it doesn't take many drivers being jerks for it to turn into a monumental clusterf*ck traffic jam and cause accidents.

Zipper merges are fine and work in lots of places around the world. The problem is the inherent selfishness and me first attitude of Americans.


Having watched/driven traffic in various parts of the world, Europe to Asia, I can assure you that arsehole behavior while driving isn't remotely limited to Americans.
 
2017-10-06 09:58:41 PM  
Norfolking Chance:Zipper merges are fine and work in lots of places around the world. The problem is the inherent selfishness and me first attitude of Americans.

No problem. Just teach everyone that if they see an empty lane which is ending at a merge, if traffic starts to slow down then hop in that empty lane to fill it up and the zipper will set up faster. The first people in the empty lane get to jump the line.
 
2017-10-06 10:09:37 PM  
Any method that has a success rate dependent on everyone using the method properly is doomed to fail. We'd be better off telling people that if the lanes are merging, you need to get your ass in the other lane as soon as you can. I promise you, even with that being the rule you'll still have plenty of people waiting till the last second.

If you live in a culture where everyone marches in lockstep with each other, this problem doesn't apply to you.
 
2017-10-06 10:43:36 PM  

PoweredByIrony: There's a spot on my morning commute where two lanes merge immediately after a traffic light, and the merge lane is about 100 feet long.  The regulars know it and all line up in the left lane at the light.  So traffic in the left lane, at a red light, will be 40 cars long.  And there will be NOBODY in the right lane.

What do you do in that scenario?  Drive past the backed up traffic to the light and hope that someone lets you in immediately once the light turns green?  Or line up as car 41 and hope you make in through before the light cycles and you sit through another round of red?


If there's a clear lane ahead of me and no legal reason why I have to move over, I'm staying in the lane all the way to the light. The nature of the road after the light is something I'll deal with after I pass the light. If there is merging going on right after the light, that's when I'll merge. If there was a sign before the light saying I have to merge then, that's when I'd merge before reaching the light.
 
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