Gawker's horrible URLs March 5, 2011 7:39 AM   Subscribe

A pony request to fix a 3rd party's crappy website...

Twice (1, 2) in the last 24 hours we've had posting linking to Gawker websites, where the horrible "#!" URL format they use breaks for anyone outside the USA.

Both threads have had partial derails as a result (and, yes, I know I was a part of one of them).

Removing those two characters from the URL means it redirects nicely for everyone - the USAian Mefites get redirected to a #! url and we forners get country code sub domains.

Is there any chance pb could automatically strip that #! from links to gawker network URLs?
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Feature Requests at 7:39 AM (31 comments total)

A better solution - stop linking Gawker sites. If you see something there that you want to post, link to wherever they got the content from in the first place, and add a (via) link to Gawker.
posted by zamboni at 7:46 AM on March 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


The shebang is an abomination in URLs, but sadly it's everywhere, most noticably Gawker and Twitter.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:47 AM on March 5, 2011


USAian

Oh god this again
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:00 AM on March 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


link to wherever they got the content from in the first place

I second this idea. There's little need to improve Gawker's ad hits — just go right to the source.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:01 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I was the only person posting links here, Zamboni, it would be a very different site. A very empty site too.

I've got no major issue with Shebangs in general - it's specifically the redirecting on Gawker sites I'm referring to.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 8:03 AM on March 5, 2011


# and ! are both valid URI characters according rfc3986. Unless you're using a non-compliant browser, I don't think the redirection issue is related to these characters.
posted by _aa_ at 8:09 AM on March 5, 2011


I'm outside of the US and aren't getting redirected on those links. Still support the idea of linking to the primary source, though, and not Gawker et al.
posted by 6550 at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2011


sodium lights the horizon: "where the horrible "#!" URL format they use breaks for anyone outside the USA."

Can you explain this? How does this valid URL construction and your location equal broken?
posted by Plutor at 8:18 AM on March 5, 2011


For me and others in the second thread, a url like http://example.com/#!wibble is getting redirected as http://uk.example.com/#!wibble with no regard for the fact that the country subdomains haven't been setup to use shebangs. So they break.

If people link to http://example.com/wibble everyone seems to get redirected to the correct version for their location.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 8:22 AM on March 5, 2011


I have no idea how any of this works, but Charlie Sheen was the last thing I wanted to see at 8 am on a Saturday morning.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2011


I did register http://gawkerblocker.com/ so at some point I will write up the directions on how to have all content on their sites point to a picture of a kitten. This way you never click a bit.ly link again, thinking you're going to get to see something cool, only to land on a page of suckage.

I need less projects, and more time.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


You mean fewer projects and greater time.
posted by maryr at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fewer projects and more time, I think.

Anyway, stripping out the #! from any forced internationalfied Gawker URL seems to work. Unfortunately, what usually lies on that page isn't worth the work.
posted by maudlin at 9:03 AM on March 5, 2011


# and ! are both valid URI characters according rfc3986. Unless you're using a non-compliant browser, I don't think the redirection issue is related to these characters.

The redirection and the #! are separate, but the combination of the two is why the links go to the wrong place.

The # begins an anchor and everything after it is parsed client-side. Since the redesign, Gawker network sites have all been breaking for non-USians because the links use the silly ajaxy bits to load the article, but then the server redirects to a country-specific subdomain where the ajaxy bits don't work.

Yes, it's Gawker's brokenness but it's widespread brokenness and the OP here knows exactly what's going on.
posted by mendel at 9:24 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The better solution is to (as others have said) link directly to the content, not to any Gawker sites.

Taking pains to fix Gawker's broken sites instead of denying them the traffic creates no incentive for them to fix it themselves.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:40 AM on March 5, 2011


6550: I'm outside of the US and aren't getting redirected on those links.

I guess it doesn't reply to all countries outside the US, but here in the UK the issue is exactly as slth describes. Gawker URLs with the the stupid hashbang notation get redirected to the front page of uk.gawker.com.

Gawker seem not to have heard of permalinks, either.

There is a workaround however; click through to uk.gawker.com, then hit the back button and click through again, and the second time you don't get redirected. I guess it only screws with you once per session or something. (Works on Safari from my Mac; I haven't tried elsewhere).

This implies you wouldn't notice the problem if you've already visited the site in the last [however long a session is - 30 mins?] even if you're in a country where this happens.
posted by nowonmai at 9:47 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Charlie Sheen was the last thing I wanted to see at 8 am on a Saturday morning.

This gives me a great idea for an alarm clock. I don't want to give it away, but it involves an mp3 that says 'WINNING!" and one gallon of tiger blood.
posted by DU at 9:49 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think this a problem on Gawker's end. They could fix it up at any point. They could break things further at any point and then we'd need to fix our fix. We don't want to get into the fixing Gawker business. We have plenty to fix around here.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:06 AM on March 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's sheer poetry, pb.
posted by maudlin at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


pb's already spoken, so, just another vote for not bothering with a. Gawker link at all, and linking to the source. Screw them and their ad hits.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2011


Poetry and magic. From your fingertips.
posted by arto at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2011


Personally, I'm waiting for the inevitable Chrome and Firefox addons that strip out the hash-bang, but until then I'm just not clicking on any Gawker/Lifehacker/Gizmodo/etc links.
posted by Ritchie at 2:13 PM on March 5, 2011


A couple weeks ago I looked for AND FOUND a "Gawker URL fix" in order to include an io9 link in my Nicholas Courtney obit post:

Add a "ca." to the beginning of the url, remove the "#!" in the middle, and you get an blog item from any of Gawker's sites in the old, non-breaking-the-web, format. Easy Peasy.

io9: “Drive” is a goofy webcomic war over an interstellar engine
http://ca.io9.com/5776613/drive-is-a-goofy-webcomic-war-over-an-interstellar-engine
Lifehacker: Make Yourself Some Extra Money This Weekend
http://ca.lifehacker.com/5776777/make-yourself-some-extra-money-this-weekend
Gizmodo: Libya Protestors Using Photoshop to Make Caricatures of Gaddafi
http://ca.gizmodo.com/5777474/libya-protestors-using-photoshop-to-make-caricatures-of-gaddafi

That may be easy enough for pb to add a 'mini-hack' that does it to links with the #! for now... or not.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2011


nah, we're not going to start rewriting Gawker links. I just think that leads to keeping up with them. A Greasemonkey script for people outside the US sounds perfect.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:50 PM on March 5, 2011


It's a hashbang. Shebang gives me nasty flashbacks to that William Hung kid.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:15 PM on March 5, 2011


The whole hashbang sounds weird, though.
posted by maryr at 11:29 PM on March 5, 2011


Ohh, I was wondering why I couldn't view any Gawker posts lately. I kept hearing about the redesign thing and I thought my Noscript was breaking it, but then I allowed Gawker and it still didn't work and I was puzzled. Now I know.

I think the solution here is for people to stop linking to Gawker, or at least explain what they're linking to so I don't have to click through to a useless page.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:43 AM on March 6, 2011


The whole hashbang sounds weird, though.

To me, it sounds rather enjoyable.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:19 AM on March 7, 2011


(Also, I think it's worth putting in the guidelines that links to original sources are nearly always preferred over links to refried copypasta on some random blog, be it Gawker or some Russian's LiveJournal.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:26 AM on March 7, 2011


IndigoRain: "It's a hashbang. Shebang gives me nasty flashbacks to that William Hung kid."

Actually, the origin might be "sharp bang" or "shell bang", according to the jargon file.
posted by Plutor at 4:37 AM on March 7, 2011

Ohh, I was wondering why I couldn't view any Gawker posts lately. I kept hearing about the redesign thing and I thought my Noscript was breaking it, but then I allowed Gawker and it still didn't work and I was puzzled. Now I know.
That gets complicated by the fact that NoScript does break it, too, as a separate issue from the location redirect.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:05 AM on March 7, 2011


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