UPDATE, 8/2/08 4:19 PM: This post gives an explanation of the source of the problem: a known bug in Microsoft Internet Explorer, one of those "clear as mud" things I mentioned yesterday. So the fault is with Microsoft for allowing this bug to persist, and with SiteMeter for failing to test any modifications on what is, despite what its detractors say, one of the most popular and widely-used web browsers.
Something has gone wrong with SiteMeter. Attempting to open any sites on the Internet that use SiteMeter - including SiteMeter's own site - through Internet Explorer yields this error message:
For the record (and the Google spiders) this message is "Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site"...whatever. "Operation aborted."
I first noticed this on SuperTiff's site last night. It didn't kick in right away - usually I had a few seconds to get in and read a bit and maybe even post a comment. (I move quickly online. 30 seconds is a hell of a lot of time to me.) But no other sites that I visited had a problem.
Tonight I couldn't open SiteMeter. This is usually the first thing I do, to make sure my own IP address isn't counted by my SiteMeter. Then I discovered I couldn't open Another Monkey, either...or a bunch of other sites. But some sites I could. The difference, I realized, was that the sites I couldn't open all had SiteMeters installed. The sites I could open, didn't.
But why just SuperTiff last night? Well, SiteMeter groups users onto lots of different servers. So my thinking is, whatever issue is affecting SiteMeter was on the server that her SiteMeter is housed on, but not the ones that any of the other sites I was visiting used. But now, this issue is affecting all of their servers. Whether this is a virus spreading through their servers or a poorly-vetted upgrade that has gradually been installed over the past two days, I do not know.
I researched this error message a little when I first started getting it today and got bewildering explanations that were clear as mud. But then I followed up on my SiteMeter hunch and found a help discussion thread on Blogger where someone else had already arrived at this conclusion - and someone else offered a solution: simply go onto your template through the Blogger site and remove SiteMeter. And that's just what I did - though I first backed up the html code to a text file on my computer so I could easily restore it when SiteMeter finally resolves this issue.
Which I hope will be soon! I'm getting near another SiteMeter milestone - I hope i didn't sail right past it without noticing! Though for the time being my visitors will not be counted. Too bad...I'll bet this post will generate a lot of visits.
http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/general/sitemeter-crashing-internet-explorer-sites-august-1-2008/ - This post has been extensively plagiarized by other sites successfully trying to steer search engine traffic towards themselves.
http://runlonger.blogspot.com/2008/08/internet-explorer-cannot-open-internet.html - For a slightly more extreme solution to the problem, which should allow you to visit sites that still have SiteMeter code.
http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/08/fix-internet-explorer-7-with-sitemeter.html - An explanation of the root cause of the problem.
UPDATE, 8/2/08, 2:23 PM: Looks like the problem is being resolved. I've undone the restriction recommended by Will and have reinstalled my SiteMeter code, and everything looks OK. My SiteMeter is showing 3 hits for today, while my AdSense hit counter says 179 people have stopped by today. Ironic that a SiteMeter failure would be the cause of so much (unrecorded) traffic.
Goodness, I haven't felt so much camaraderie in the Blogosphere since the great Smenita crisis of 2005!
UPDATE, 8/2/2008, 4:54 PM: Finally, an explanation from SiteMeter!
August 2nd, 2008
Dear SiteMeter Users,
We have become aware of a compatibility issue with our SiteMeter tracking code and IE 7 (possibly IE 6) browsers that started sometime last night.
The problem was related to some work we were doing on the backend system for our upcoming website launch.
We’ve identified and resolved two separate but related issues -
1 - IE Users viewing pages - There was a problem with users who placed their SiteMeter tracking code outside of their HTML Body Tag. Because of the changes we made this created a failure for visitors viewing sites using Internet Explorer 7.
2 - Accessing SiteMeter and Stats - Individuals trying to access or view their SiteMeter stats by clicking on their SiteMeter logo/icons were unable to gain access. This again appears to have affected only individuals using IE7.
At this time both problems have been fixed and our services are fully operational.
For those who removed the SiteMeter code from your pages please be assured that the problem has been resolved and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
The SiteMeter Team