Friday, August 01, 2008

SiteMeter causing site errors in Internet Explorer

UPDATE, 8/2/08 2:34 PM: Apparently the crisis has been resolved at this time. We may now all go back to being stats whores.

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.

Related: - This post has been extensively plagiarized by other sites successfully trying to steer search engine traffic towards themselves. - For a slightly more extreme solution to the problem, which should allow you to visit sites that still have SiteMeter code. - 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!

SiteMeter IE Issues Resolved

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


Michelle D said...

Internet Explorer.
There's your first problem.

There's your second.

fred@opc said...

I wrote an article when this happened earlier tonight - organized so that google could spider it too. Amazing what can happen when one of the big javascript sites goes down. A 12 hour outtage will costs sites hundreds of thousands in revenue.

Noel said...

Yes I was surprised too seeing IE error msg this morning when I was trying to login to my blog.

After remover the Sitemeter javascript code.. problem resolved. :)

Gort said...

Are all Blogspot sites under attack?

Shall we raise the troll terror alert to turquoise?

I changed my browser to Firefox and will ride out the Sitemeter glitch before I start screwing around with code.

twinsand2boys said...

Im guessing I have the same problem. How do you back up your html on sitemeter so you can restore it?

Will said...

Another solution is to add sitemeter to your restricted sites in IE. I like your solution better since this doesn't help others clicking on my blog. What is up with Sitemeter? I've had problems with them one day they just went down and didn't come up for air for 12 hours. I didn't record any hits when they were down....

D.B. Echo said...

twinsand2boys, I opened up my blog template through Blogger and found the chunk of code for my SiteMeter. I selected it and copied-and-pasted it into a text editor - WordPad - which retained all of the html doodads. Then I deleted the SiteMeter section from my template.

As of 8:20 A.M. on Saturday, they're still down. Hmmm...this should be the headline on all the morning papers. "INTERNET DOWN! SiteMeter to blame"

Gort, obviously this is a consequence of SiteMeter acting in collusion with the IOC and the Chinese government to restrict access to any sites that may have an anti-Chinese / pro-Tibet slant.

...scary thing is, I'm not sure I'm joking there.

~Deb said...

What a pain in the arse! But I will say that I laughed so hard with that "INTERNET DOWN" and how people walked outside their house for the first time in a long time! lol

I use Firefox because Explorer gives me so many problems. Maybe it's just an operator problem on my part. Pfff, who knows!

enigma4ever said...

thanks for posting on this- I have posted a link to you at Watergate Summer, I hope you don't mind...


caw said...

Awesome! Thank you, AM for this postage. I can finally access my own bloggo, and others. I thought about going outside for a walk to fill in the time, but instead, I went back to bed. ;) Good tippage.

twinsand2boys said...

Thanks, I figured out how to back up and have restored it. Glad I found your blog yesterday!

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Thanks for the heads up on this... And then the notification that it was all resolved... I was on the road, and had try to load my blog onto a library computer w/IE and it was only partially loading... I attributed it to some over zealous filter at the library. Meter = Meat her? Or something... Anyway, thanks for filling me in. Now that I'm home I was able to read all the drama that you so carefully documented here on your blog for posterity!

You were right, it was a Smenita sized mystery for a while there...