back to article Searchers say bug bars way back to Google

Google users are complaining of a search bug that prevents them from returning to the company's web-dominating search engine via their browser "back" buttons. The company has acknowledged the bug, saying it affects users running Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8, and it plans to roll out a fix today. According to multiple …


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  1. Doshu

    a google experiment?


    i hope one of their experiments clutters their results page with a crappy sidebar.

    that would be neat.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      re: a google experiment?

      Yes, and the same "upgrade" also removed the UK sites only checkbox. Now to get to this very commonly needed feature you need to delve into the advanced search dialog or refine your search after you've already made it.

      1. david 12

        @removed the UK sites only checkbox

        Don't need this feature any more, because Google is now remembering you, and where you live. They use it, of course, to send you customised advertising, but they justify it by sorting your search results to give you the ones you prefer from the area where you connect.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Got the T-shirt

      Yeah - my work machine got picked for that experiment. Why is it that there's a persistent undercurrent of developers that think they can waste screen space? Let the users decide what appears.

      Oh and while I'm having an early morning rant with my cuppa - what goes through the tiny minds of Adobe developers? What total muppet thought that upgrading Acrobat Reader was a good excuse to put the application icon on my desktop? Seriously - has anyone, ever, in the whole history of human computing wanted to launch Acrobat Reader from a desktop icon? Come to that - from any icon?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Desktop icons

        Of course they haven't, but that's not why this exists.

        1) The package they use to build the installer had an option to create a start menu shortcut.

        2) The marketing department of the company that makes the installer package decides that they need more features.

        3) The installer package developers respond by offering to put additional shortcuts in various other places. Problem: no other such place makes any sense from a UI perspective. Solution: add "the desktop" since even though it is pointless it is at least visible.

        4) So when the "installer builder" product is sold onto to developers like those at Adobe, there is an option (on by default, because otherwise you wouldn't know it was there and the marketing department would wet their pants) to do something really daft.

        5) Add one lazy developer and presto - every end-user finds a pointless icon on their desktop!

        1. John 62

          they all do that

          Almost everything on Windows replaces the desktop icon when installing a new version. I got blase once and thought I'd dragged some icons onto the recycle bin while holding the shift key. but windows somehow bogged itself down doing something else (probably McAfee related) and it actually thought I was making a selection box when I thought I was dragging things into the bin. lost a couple of documents, but they weren't hugely important.

          Grenade to destroy all those desktop shortcuts I don't want

  2. yossarianuk
    Thumb Up

    Serves them right...

    For running IE....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Sounds ominous

    > one of our many experiments

    Many? Hmm.. brings to mind scenes of dimly-lit laboratories awaiting lightning strikes...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Really a bug?

    I'd say it's not a bug at all - if you go to page 1, get redirected to page 2, then click back, you'll go back to page 1 - which will redirect you back to page 2. Expected behavior...unless Google is adding their own redirect in their 'experiment,' which they should probably not be doing.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Yes, a bug.

      Not in Explorer (although it'd be a great feature if it spotted what was happening and ignored it). But surely a bug in Google. They're a lot less common these days but there are still some sites that pull that trick and it's bloody annoying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not at all

      The redirecting request in google should have issued an HTTP redirect in the header, and the browser should have interpreted that as meaning that the actual page should replace the redirecting resource in the browser history. That's how all good form posts work, so you don't end up reposting form content left right and centre

  5. Anonymous Coward

    That redirect

    Yahoo do a redirect too. The links on the results page look kosher in your browser status bar if you hover over them but if you copy and paste the link it has tons of random chars added which I can only assume are some kind of unique ID. Whether it breaks IE8's back button is something others may care to check.

  6. JC 2

    Totally Normal

    All you have to do to fix this is click the back button twice in a row, and it's been that way since the beginning not just with IE8.

    1. Bruce Clare

      Yes, but...

      You have to carefully time the double back-buttoning. Too fast and the second click registers as taking place from the last page. Too late and the redirect has already started.

      It's easier to click on the drop-down button next to the back button to display your page history, and then select the results page from the history list. Then you don't have to worry about the timing.

    2. Tom 13

      Yep, or click the little arrow thingie next to it,

      which displays the whole back history and you can go back as far as you want to in it.

      Not like this bug is a real problem if you actually know your browsers.

    3. John 62
      Thumb Down

      maybe normal

      but somewhat annoying. shouldn't need a redirect unless it's an interstitial saying Google thinks this is a malware site

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IE 8, Like Firefox

    has a drop down next to back/forwad buttons - just click on it shows last half dozen urls and select google search - useful for getting back past adverts in such cases - so will pass the redirect page.

    So what's the problem :s

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      The problem is..

      ..that your first instruction gets ignored and you have to do something else.

      I hope you're not a software developer.

      When people issue an instruction to a computer they expect it to have the desired effect. They don't expect to have to find an alternative. Or hey, here's an idea. I'll reprogram your mouse so that the first time you move it after a 30 second break it moves in a random direction. Or the first time you use second gear on your car the breaks will come on.

      People expect back to mean back. They don't want it to mean back-oh-damn-now-I-have-to-drop-down-a-combo-box-I've-almost-forgotten-about.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        And your point is?

        I can recall encountering this problem for years on all browsers - maybe it has only started happening on Google recently (but I am sure it has been happening on sponsored links for ages) - but there are plenty of other sites where it happens (some more difficult to work around)

        Yes it is a pita, yes it is wrong - but the reality is some times you have to learn to work around the people who don't want you to do things your way.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Not an i.e. bug...

    ..but a Google one.

    If you click a link, get redirected then redirected again, going "back" should take you back one page.

    It's Google redirect that's screwed.

    Some people may just say that Google are blaming i.e. as they have a rival browser that I'm sure doesn't have the "bug".

    But not me of course.

    Welcome to the world of live alpha testing.

  9. Gannet

    Welcome to tabbed browsing?

    Hmm, maybe the average IE6 user hasn't realised that thanks to IE being part of windows update, they have moved on 2 versions and now have access to tabbed browsing.

    Open the link in a new tab and voila, your search results remain!

    1. Kanhef


      I've gotten into the habit of, from any search/news/index page, spawning each interesting link into a new tab. Essentially, the advent of tabbed clients has turned web browsing into a breadth-first exercise, rather than depth-first, and so there is much less need for backtracking. (Yes, this was always possible, but managing a dozen or so windows becomes rather unwieldy.)

      I was in the experiment for a while, but since I never go back to search results, I don't know how my browser would have handled it, and didn't think to examine the mechanism at the time. A browser' behavior can depend on how the redirect is generated. An HTTP 3xx response should be transparent to the user; going back one step will return to the search results. It's more ambiguous if a meta-refresh tag or javascript is used, as in some cases a user may want to go back to the page that generated the redirect.

  10. YumDogfood

    tin foil hat conjecture (FUD mode=ON)

    Wonder if Google OS will disable copy&paste of URLS so you HAVE to click on the link (or type it) instead of allowing C&P'ing the actual web address for the search results.

    I should be a consultant, the amount of evil ideas I have.

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