Broken links can happen to anyone. December 10, 2005 11:12 PM   Subscribe

Can someone explain to me why the link in this comment on Ask.Me take me to
posted by vacapinta to MetaFilter-Related at 11:12 PM (32 comments total)

posted by Eideteker at 11:20 PM on December 10, 2005

I'd really like to know why those malformed links take me to as well, when I'm using FireFox with Google search enabled.

I should slap in the knoppix CD and see if it still does it.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2005

I can see its a malformed URL. I'll go ahead and potentially reveal my ignorance in not understanding, still, why that would go to
posted by vacapinta at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2005

And cos practically every man and his dog on Metafilter uses Firefox? http// only takes me to our evil overlords in FF, not in IE. Which seems....ironic.
posted by Pigpen at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2005

Since there is no server at the given address (malformed url) it does a google search for the phrase 'http' and takes you to the first hit, like typing 'cat' in your address bar would take you to the first hit for 'cat'.
posted by Firas at 11:31 PM on December 10, 2005

Safari here, and I don't end up anywhere. Just an error page from my browser.
posted by cribcage at 11:32 PM on December 10, 2005

Oh. And I am using Firefox 1.5 on OS X.
posted by vacapinta at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2005

Shit, Firas has it. Type "http" into your address bar in Firefox, you end up at Microsoft. How strange.
posted by Jimbob at 11:38 PM on December 10, 2005

Maybe evil overlords flock together. ;-)
posted by Pigpen at 11:49 PM on December 10, 2005

Firefoxes don't flock.
posted by metaculpa at 11:57 PM on December 10, 2005

Are you sure about that?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:59 PM on December 10, 2005

Yeah, that's weird.

unlinked URL for visual eyeballing:

I wonder how long it would take to googlebomb that back down below HTTP should point to HTTP should always point to
posted by loquacious at 12:02 AM on December 11, 2005

What's this about HTTP pointing to somewhere other than I was under the impression that HTTP should HTTP always HTTP point to HTTP


What was that URL again, loquacious?

What's that you say? Sisyphean, you say? Correct, I say?
posted by gramschmidt at 12:14 AM on December 11, 2005

Some info here
posted by knave at 12:29 AM on December 11, 2005

The answer is: Google's first result for "http" is Try other search terms.
posted by knave at 12:30 AM on December 11, 2005

HTTP should point to HTTP should always point to

No it shouldn't. HTTP is an IETF standard.
posted by cillit bang at 5:48 AM on December 11, 2005

It's a Firefox bug: they use google's I'm Feeling Lucky search on entries in the URL bar, rather than adding www. and .com like every other browser. This is a feature, apparently, but when combined with a bug in handling malformed URLS like http://http:// it ends up taking you to google's top hit for http
posted by bonaldi at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2005

The relevant bugs:

I suspect it comes about from pasting a complete link into the link formatter here. since the popup already has http in it, the link gets mangled.
posted by bonaldi at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2005

Hoo, that's twice that's done that! What's goin on? It works in preview. here?
posted by bonaldi at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2005

"" is a domain, just like any other 4-letter string, right? M$ seems to own it.
posted by scarabic at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2005

No it doesn't search machine does.
posted by bonaldi at 12:32 PM on December 11, 2005

bonaldi: "The relevant bugs"

The first bug you link to is a duplicate. The second bug you link to is a request to remove the awesome feature altogether, and it's been marked "WONTFIX". The actual bug in question is 263213.
posted by Plutor at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2005

I saw that, but the first bug is a) older than the one it apparently is a "duplicate" of and b) explains it better. The WONTFIX bug is there to explain why this braindead feature is still in there in the first place.
posted by bonaldi at 12:59 PM on December 11, 2005

Braindead feature? You mean the fact that you can type "metatalk" in the URL field and go to metatalk? Or can type "ebay" and end up at ebay? Or type "department of health and human services" and end up there? It's basically the only useful web keyword service I've ever used, and I use it all the time.

Yes, the http://http bug exists, but that's a bug, not an indication of a useless feature.
posted by Plutor at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2005

No, it's the fact that you don't get told what the hell's happening. I only discovered it when I typed in a word expecting to go to and ended up at some random site utterly unrelated to the term. Completely baffling.

I agree that type of thing can be useful -- I have a keyword bookmark set up to do the same thing -- but at the very least, it should default to off.

(What's more, I can get to metatalk even faster by typing metat and then down arrow)
posted by bonaldi at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2005

Fortunately, "aitch titty pee" still gets you to the Naughty Limerick site. As it should be.
posted by arto at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2005

The reason is clear and Mozilla has no intention to fix it. Users can fix it themselves:

In firefox, enter "about:config" (no quotes) in the address bar. Scroll to the entry for keyword.URL and modify (via double click) the entry to read:
This will force Firefox to return the google search page results rather than an "I Feel Lucky" response. Or, insert something else, perhaps or something.
posted by Slap Incognito at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2005

I thought Firefox was supposed to be the browser for everyone? So why does it do something illogical without explaining to the user why? By default. The sort of steps you outline above are the kind that could be followed by the type of person who wants super-duper-jump-in-the-dark-complete. They're not the kind my mum can follow. And she has also been caught out by firefox "breaking" when she types addresses.

[There really should be a counterpart of Godwin's Law for introducing an aged relative into discussions of tech usability. Call it bonaldi's law, go on]
posted by bonaldi at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2005

User interfaces are optimized for intermediates, not beginners.
posted by Firas at 10:24 PM on December 11, 2005

That said, although I use the feature all the time, I can understand the whole 'it's a surprise because the person doesn't know what just happened' argument.
posted by Firas at 10:29 PM on December 11, 2005

Bonaldi, I feel your pain. I have older parents and am similarly challenged. Good user interfaces don't surprise users, as Firas said.
The best advice I can give is to set up the sidebar to show bookmarks and then show them how to drag bookmarks to the sidebar. That's worked well for me.
posted by Slap Incognito at 2:47 PM on December 12, 2005

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