Sunday, January 04, 2009

NYT: We're Sorry - An error occurred?!?!

I would have thought that The New York Times Web site of all places would have done a much better job of handling errors. I was doing a simple search and up pops a "Member Center" Web page that says only:

We're Sorry

An error has occurred. Please try again later or contact Customer Service for assistance.

What does that mean, "an error"?? What kind of error?

The Web page URL file name is "apperror.html", so I suspect that an "application error" occurred.

I tried again, but got the same error.

This appears to be a bug in The Times Web site software.

Here's what I did...

I wanted to search for "energy efficiency" and "thomas friedman". I entered the following search text on the Web site home page:

"energy efficiency"  "thamas friedman"

The Times Web site software found no results due to the typo (Thamas instead of Thomas) and offered me the following correction:

Did you mean: "energy efficiency" "thomas friedman"

Fair enough. So, I clicked on the corrected query and that's when I got the "We're Sorry" response.

The problem is that the corrected query URL uses """ to represent the quotes, but that notation is only for use within HTML Web page text and is not supported in URLs. The bad URL that the Times correction (above) uses is:"energy%20efficiency"%20"thomas%20friedman"

A corrected URL (by me), which does work, would be:"energy%20efficiency"%20"thomas%20friedman"

Now, let's see how long it takes The Times to correct the bug in their correction to my typo.

-- Jack Krupansky


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