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Techies gone astray - nasa.gov doesn't resolve without the www
ergophobe




msg:4455484
 5:29 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can't believe it. I typed in nasa.gov in the address bar - blank page.

Amazing - the organization in the world that I think most defined the tech-weenies ethos of the 21st century and their domain does not resolve without the www.

Note - Firefox seems to rewrite this internally (at least it immediately switches to www.nasa.gov and HTTPLiveHeaders does not show a redirect), but in IE, Chrome and Opera it fails.

Kind of blows me away to see this in 2012.

I wonder how many others who really, really, really should know better are still doing this.

 

onepointone




msg:4455489
 5:35 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've seen this on a couple of big name websites recently, but can't remember what they were...

Things like this just train people to use google for navigation. They can always get there that way.

Future




msg:4455515
 7:13 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nice catch, few days ago i saw the same implemented for a very large ecommerce site in US.

lucy24




msg:4455546
 12:02 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Firefox seems to rewrite this internally (at least it immediately switches to www.nasa.gov and HTTPLiveHeaders does not show a redirect), but in IE, Chrome and Opera it fails.

Camino turns me right around back into this thread after showing its title (not the URL) in the address bar.

!
!
!

Safari plays dumb unless I prepend http:// and then it gives the generic "can't find the server" error.

Going back and trying http with Camino, I get the same behavior you describe in Firefox.

A random sampling of other dot gov sites leads to the appropriate redirect. (Hee, hee. You wouldn't expect the CIA to be concerned with Duplicate Content, would you?)

lawman




msg:4455634
 7:17 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Very interesting. Made me check my 3 websites to verify they resolved without www prefix.

Swanny007




msg:4455808
 5:33 am on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I typed nasa.gov in and it redirected me and loaded the www version. I guess they caught on fast? Or did my browser (Firefox 12) "fix" it for me?

robzilla




msg:4455869
 9:43 am on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's a technical inconvenience that comes with most, if not all, site acceleration services. The www-part is actually a canonical name (CNAME) for a dedicated subdomain under akamai.net, which is the only way to deploy their Dynamic Site Accelerator. You cannot set a CNAME for your second-level domain, so there's no way to route all traffic from nasa.gov to Akamai through DNS alone. They'd have to set up a separate redirect on one of their servers -- which is a no-brainer, nonetheless.

lawman




msg:4455967
 3:06 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like they fixed it.

ergophobe




msg:4456231
 4:23 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

You sure they fixed it?

When I look at it in IE, it's still broken.

When I look at it in FF, it resolves, but as I pointed out in the first post, this appears to be FF doing internal rewriting because when I look at the HTTP headers, it request is for www.nasa.gov

In other words, this is the Firefox Domain Guessing [support.mozilla.org] not the NASA server setup that is "fixing" it. The NASA server is still broken as far as I can tell.

Try it in IE or Chrome.

ergophobe




msg:4456233
 4:25 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

BTW - Perhaps this should be a Webmaster Gen topic, because it shows the danger of testing your server setup using Firefox. You might think it's good, but you could be depending on Domain Guessing rather than proper server setup.

lawman




msg:4456255
 6:16 am on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Cleared the cache and tried again. You're right, it still doesn't resolve.

jimbeetle




msg:4456490
 4:20 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

faa dot gov doesn't resolve without the www, also

lucy24




msg:4456673
 11:03 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Perhaps this should be a Webmaster Gen topic, because it shows the danger of testing your server setup using Firefox. You might think it's good, but you could be depending on Domain Guessing rather than proper server setup.

More generally, it shows the danger of doing all your testing in a single browser. What do you mean, the way it looks in Camino isn't exactly the way it will look for everyone else?

J_RaD




msg:4457014
 4:17 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

i've seen lots of websites that shoot back an SSL cert warning when you do https without www.

ergophobe




msg:4457838
 3:29 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

>>faa dot gov

At least the IRS, NPS, FBI and CIA all have it together.

>>SSL cert warning

This actually doesn't surprise me that much - if they bought the cert for the www version, they would be stuck. In other words, it's still basically a redirect problem. If the cert is for www, they simply should not be allowing people to access the site without the www and, problem solved.

So these folks have a cert for a specific hostname (which is fine) but they have poor canonicalization (which is not fine).

ergophobe




msg:4457855
 4:06 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Whitehouse.gov works, but it seems like getting this wrong is the rule, rather than the exception with the US government. Below is a comprehensive list of the next five domains I checked (in other words, after my string of five successes with IRS, NPS, FBI, CIA and whitehouse.gov, my next five tests failed):

fda dot gov (Food and drug)
dhs dot gov (Homeland Security)
hhs dot gov (Health and Human Services)
ice dot gov (Immigration and customs enforcement)

And my favorite:

ncis dot navy dot mil

For those who don't know NCIS is the subject of a popular TV show in which the tech skill of NCIS agents is sufficient to hack into any secure system in somewhere around seven seconds. If there's super duper triple 1024-bit encryption, it takes about four hours. Apparently, after hacking into the cell-phone network, they don't have energy left to canonicalize URLs on their server.

Robert Charlton




msg:4457966
 9:48 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's the (Google) error page for http://nasa.gov/ in IE....

Oops! Internet Explorer could not find nasa.gov

Did you mean: www.nasa.gov

I'm not sure my memory is correct here... but I vaguely remember that once upon a time, if you entered the domain name without the protocol into the address bar of IE, it would only add the protocol if you had specified that behavior in the browser settings.

ergophobe




msg:4457978
 10:12 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Exactly - it is poor practice to depend on client behavior.

incrediBILL




msg:4458361
 12:03 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's a simple matter that since there is no longer a dubya in the Whitehouse that the current administration has also removed all the dubyas from the websites.

Leosghost




msg:4458362
 12:05 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Once again a coffee-proof keyboard saves the day :) Thank you for that William..:) Began my day with a laugh ;-)

incrediBILL




msg:4458363
 12:20 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

We may have issues with our dubyas, but at least the US government isn't currently in BETA: [gov.uk...]

Sorry, just couldn't resist

Leosghost




msg:4458365
 12:42 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

France has so far, characteristically just ignored "the cookies issue"..Gov't websites set them and don't mention at all that they do so ..

ergophobe




msg:4458413
 4:50 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

>>the US government isn't currently in BETA

funny, though not a mistake, so I can excuse their techies...now I just wish I knew how long it has been up as beta. If Google is running it, it may be going on five years ;-)

>>cookies

Do as I say...

bill




msg:4458495
 1:49 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

NASA still fails the WWW validator at [no-org...] You can test out your own sites to see if they properly handle www & www-less requests.

SEOPTI




msg:4458505
 2:35 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

LOl, they would like to find aliens but do NOT resolve without www, this is so funny!

incrediBILL




msg:4458512
 3:41 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Did a little bit of quick recon and all of the domains mentioned above that I checked were being hosted by akamai.com so maybe it's possible the issue is with their managed hosting.

Here's why I think this, check out this page about about another hosting client, festival-cannes.com [akamai.com...] and guess what, without the "www." on that domain doesn't resolve either!

My gut tells me there's just a checkbox on a managed dedicated server control panel for "[] www" that nobody checked and is unchecked by default.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4458556
 9:22 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I typed nasa.gov in and it redirected me and loaded the www version. I guess they caught on fast? Or did my browser (Firefox 12) "fix" it for me?


Ditto and yes, FF fixes missing www and .html if either appears missing. If that doesn't fix it firefox then sends you to a Google search results page by default.

robzilla




msg:4458627
 2:11 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

My gut tells me there's just a checkbox on a managed dedicated server control panel for "[] www" that nobody checked and is unchecked by default.

Akamai doesn't do managed hosting. As I mentioned earlier, this is their Dynamic Site Accelerator at work, which can only be configured via a CNAME record, and that's obviously not possible for a 2nd level domain such as nasa.gov. They'd have to set up a redirect seperately. A simple fix, but perhaps we're missing something.

Wlauzon




msg:4458641
 3:15 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Many government sites have issues beyond just not resolving without the www. I find more broken links, 500 errors, various server errors, etc. etc. on federal government sites than almost any non-government site. Oddly, I almost never find such errors on state.gov sites.

Just as an aside, nrel.gov does resolve - it used to be one of the worst for broken links etc, but they finally fixed it a few months ago.

ergophobe




msg:4458718
 7:07 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

IncrediBill - what about the agencies who are set up properly? Same hosting?

JustPlainBill - didn't know about the validator. That's an option if you're using Firefox.

HTTPLiveHeaders will also work, but you have to know to look for the missing redirect.

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >
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