Anyone have a clue what is going on?

I’ve been getting a steady stream of really oddball email from this blog’s contact form. They look like this:

Nice hack on Shoutwire!  I like how you stole my article submission link to a news story and re-directed it to your bullshit blog. 

If you want to express an opposing viewpoint on Shoutwire, please do so.  Don’t fuck with my submissions.

sdkid

Shoutwire is some sort of digg clone that doesn’t even have comments, it just has a frame around other sites and you vote on links and I can’t tell if this person thinks I run it or thinks I hijacked it.

why are you jacking pages?

Another one, and when I replied to this one asking them to explain, I got nothing in return. This is the weirdest one of all:

Why do I get your site when I am trying to  get the Fox47News web site?

It must be a default browser thing, sorta like when you type in http into firefox and you end up at microsoft?

And another:

it bites the way your site hijacks links

I wish someone would write me back on this that doesn’t think I am stealing something. A few months ago someone said an old article on Wired News redirected to this blog, but perhaps it was just a bad HTML link. I’d sure love to get to the bottom of this and figure out what combination of exact browser version plus links ends up with people on this site. If anyone has any ideas, do tell in the comments here because I can’t figure it out and no one will email back to explain.

update: the person that sent the first feedback wrote me back and posted it to shoutwire’s site here. On my mac with firefox, I don’t get redirected here, but if anyone clicks on this link and ends up here, do leave a comment telling me what browser/OS you are running? Thanks.

another update: So here is the offending page. Click on the blue title and you’ll end up here, but the crazy thing is that in the middle, the word “nothing” is google searched, and since I’m apparently the first result, people get redirected here.

So I think the issue is that whatever content management system foxnews.com is running, somewhere, somehow, instead of responding to browsers with a real 404, the phrase “nothing” is being returned on their app server, so browsers like firefox are guessing on it by running a Google “I’m feeling lucky” search for the phrase, ending up here. Hopefully someone at foxnews.com notices and fixes this soon.

conclusion: As Phil figured out, javascript on foxnews.com checks to see if it is being presented within HTML frames on another server, and if so, it redirects to http://nothing/. Firefox by default does a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search for any word you put in your address bar, and I am apparently the first result for “nothing” on google, so you end up here. I would direct folks to a page explaining this but there is no referrer sent from the I’m Feeling Lucky search. I guess those of you looking for foxnews.com, don’t use whatever site tried to load foxnews within a frameset, as they are just putting a frame around other sites. Just go to foxnews.com yourself.

11 Comments

  • Just wanted to again apologize to the author of this blog. It appears there are browser issues or something else at work here, possibly related to auto-searches from the address bar. I use Firefox. In IE I get a “page can not be displayed” error.

  • It’s the result of the Shoutwire link going to “nothing” and a.wholelottanothing.org is Google’s top result for the word “nothing”
    http://www.google.com/search?q=nothing

  • Yup. To confirm Matt’s suspicions, I tried the link in Safari on OS X. The browser tried to go to http://nothing/ and in Firefox, that is the equivalent of entering in “nothing” into the search box and pressing “I’m Feeling Lucky.”
    On the plus side, now you can get business cards that say “http://nothing/” on them if you wanted.

  • Who is this “blogger” Matthew Haughey?

  • Strange, twisted, and terrible: the Google search for subframe navigation thing was recently fixed on the trunk, so I wound up with a not-found page for http://nothing/. Then I wondered where it was coming from, so I went back, and opened the LiveHTTPHeaders sidebar to see whether it was coming from a broken ad, or a broken attempt at breaking out of ShoutWire’s framing. The second time, I wound up with ShoutWire’s framing around a Sydney Morning Herald article (which I suspect means they changed the link, since that’s coming right out of their frameset).

  • And who is the “blogger” Matthew Haughey that is receiving the redirected traffic?
    Yeah, just who the hell is he? “Blogger”, indeed! All he does is post links!

  • It’s kind of a bummer I can’t check for a referrer from foxnews.com — it’ll just show google.com/?q=nothing — because I could put up a message in the header explaining why someone may have been steered wrong.
    Good to finally have an explanation though. Thanks Phil!

  • Karl Swedberg

    Sucks that people assumed you were “hijacking” their sites. Same thing happens at dow.com, only the redirect takes you to NASA. If you type in a URL that isn’t on the site — like http://www.dow.com/funny/strange.htm — and you’re using Firefox, you’ll be redirected to the NASA homepage. Turns out that NASA is the #1 result at Google for a search on “homepage.” Dow must have their redirect setup with “homepage” in there somewhere.

  • I noticed the issue w/Microsoft and the “http” query back in March and blogged about it. At the time, I didn’t know of any other cases. I would be willing to bet, though, that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg here, though. With Firefox being really friendly to Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky, I think there is a lot more of this kind of thing happening than we really know about. It would be certainly be interesting to see something like this appear in Google’s Zeitgeist.

  • The Dow thing is even more fun: they redirect with two different Location: headers, one right and one (http://homepage/404.whatever) broken. Everything else responds to that undefined situation by using the first header, Gecko (without actually choosing) uses the last one. With IE or Opera, even without being redirected to NASA, it looks like it works, in Firefox (until current nightlies, where it fails visibly) it looks like an obvious browser error.

  • Having your site reduced to a single word within Firefox is the online equivalent of only having one name. You are internet Bono.
    When I saw the RSS title for this post I thought maybe your house had been hit by mystery ice or there was a zombie flare up in Portland or something.

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