Sitemeter Bug Breaks Parts Of The Internet For Internet Explorer Users

A bug in the popular metrics-tracking platform Sitemeter has boxed Internet Explorer users into a quiet little corner of the internet since late yesterday afternoon. Any site using Sitemeter now displays the following cryptic message to IE users: “Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site – Operation aborted.” The bug affects IE 5.5, 6, and 7, but we have three ways—including use another browser!—to restore access to the full internet in all its horrible glory, inside. (Note: we’ve put in a fix so IE users can continue to read Consumerist without changing their settings.)

The Internet Explorer developer’s forum has developed one solution:

Here is the fix for users of IE 6 and 7 who are getting the “operation aborted” message.

Follow These Steps Exactly:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click on the menu Tools -> Internet Options.
  3. Click on the tab Security.
  4. Click on the icon Restricted Sites.
  5. Click on the button Sites.
  6. Under Add this website to the zone:
    Type the text ‘ *.sitemeter.com ’ (with asterisk and dot & without the quotes).
  7. Click the Add button. Click Close. Click OK.

All sites will work again without error messages coming up.

IE users can also bypass the Sitemeter bug by accessing sites through RSS. Here are our feeds:

And our author-specific feeds:

Finally—and IE users should do this anyway and then take a cleansing shower—download Firefox. Quickly become a power user by visiting our ever-organized sister-site Lifehacker.

Worst of all, Sitemeter hasn’t acknowledged the problem. Patching the bug and pretending this never happened isn’t a winning damage control strategy. We don’t need a lengthy explanation, but “Whoops, we broke the internet,” would be nice.

Web Sites Using SiteMeter Are Crashing with Internet Explorer [Wired]
Re: Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site – Operation aborted [MSDN Forums]
Firefox [Mozilla]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. snoop-blog says:

    I’m using Opera 9.5 right now and love it!

  2. B says:

    If I was using IE, how would I be able to see the instructions of how to fix the problem?

  3. Cowboys_fan says:

    My IE 7 has been working fine, and I am NOT downloading firefox because of one bug…sheesh, its not as if firefox doesn’t have bugs

  4. Chese says:

    I had this issue at work. The most frustrating part is the site obviously did load and you could see it. At least on the gawker sites you could scroll down but could not jump to the full article. Very frustrating!

  5. timmus says:

    Geez. I haven’t even used Internet Explorer since 2004, except for the rare times an annoying Java app is “locking up” the entirety of Firefox while an applet loads and I need to get stuff done on another website while I’m waiting.

  6. Hanke says:

    ‘Use another browser’ is not good advice. It’s like Sprint telling you to go on top of a hill to get a signal, and no, you can’t cancel your contract.

  7. snoop-blog says:

    @Hanke: I don’t know about that. I think it’s the perfect advice. If you only have one browser, it’s a great idea to download another one for a back up. And may I suggest Opera 9.5 to those who love to have multiple tabs or pages up at all times.

  8. mgy says:

    @Hanke: If you’re using IE as your primary browser, than ‘Use another browser’ is perfectly valid advice. There are no downsides.

  9. glorpy says:

    @timmus: That’s what Opera and Safari are for. Mozilla, Apple and Opera all steal UI ideas from each other anyway, so it’s less disturbing than attempting to use IE.

    And on behalf of all of the web developers out there, unless you’re on a corporate network where this is disabled, upgrade IE to 7. If you can’t, because you’re using an older version of Windows, try Firefox or Opera. You’ll simply get a better, faster browsing experience.

  10. turtledude558 says:

    Unfortunately, because of this, I wasn’t able to visit Consumerist for 2 days.

    I’m a Firefox user, but for the summer I visit my relatives across the country, so I have to borrow their computers. They’re used to IE, so I don’t want to change anything and I just use it.

    This error drove me insane! Glad it’s now fixed. :)

  11. RabbitDinner says:

    What is this browser you speak of? Internet Explorer? But seriously, been using Opera and Firefox interchangeably for about 5 years, although I mostly used Opera until Firefox 3 came out.

    I think it’s a message for people who still use IE, “You have had ample time to find a better browser. You are no longer allowed to surf the web.”

  12. Vicky says:

    I use Firefox but I decided to investigate the issue a touch. In Windows you can prevent the problem by opening your HOSTS file and adding the line “127.0.0.1 jsb.sitemeter.com”

  13. WEGGLES90 says:

    @B:
    I had the Error last night, and with a restart I can see it now.

    I hate IE7, but my dad is retarded when it comes to Open Source software, and says it’s all a virus and will reformat if I use FF. (Even though this is my computer, that only I use…. :( )

  14. bohemian says:

    People still use IE? Who whudda thunk.

    I keep a copy on my computers just in case I have to get something from a page with IE specific content. It happens a few times a year. Firefox 3 seems to have fixed the java lock up issue.

  15. rickhamilton620 says:

    Some offline feed readers also use IE to display the contents of the webpage in the reader’s window. I was personally burned by this because I use FeedDemon.

    No big loss though, I just clicked on the “use external browser” button and the pages opened just fine in my Firefox browser.

  16. nyaz says:

    And this is why I use opera.

  17. Yurei says:

    Solution:

    1. Remove IE from your machine and purge it with fire

    2. Download an alternate browser- preferably Firefox, or Opera

    3. Now enjoy a REAL internet experience, without the ‘banging head into wall’ experience! Oh, and your .pngs with transparencies will actually WORK in Firefox…

    I recommend keeping 2 different browsers on your system though, with one as a backup. I’ve found that some stubborn, stupid web designers still refuse to work with cross browser compatibility, and still feebly believe the world all uses IE. It’s annoying trying to go to a website that is very important you get through ok, when it refuses to work with your browser… grrrr.

    Seriously though, these days the ONLY reason I tolerate Ie on my machine is because I sometimes have an issue with my XP not downloading and installing updates correctly, and i need to go to MS’s site to manually do it, and MS snobbishly refuses to allow anything but IE to work on their site. -_-; And for when I need to use a site i wouldn’t normally use that isn’t cross browser compatible. I loathe just having the thing on my machine, it’s a security hazard just existing.

    I keep explaining to people, using IE (especially without security programs!) is like having sex without a condom, with someone who you KNOW has like 8 different STDs. It’s not smart, you just don’t do it. Everyone who i’ve shown FF to, adores it and switches and never goes back. Though my boyfriend still stubbornly clings to IE, I keep trying to show him the light. At least they fixed the aforementioned java issues with the new FF, and the whole “i’m going to whore your RAM lalala”.

  18. humphrmi says:

    Firefox FTW!

  19. Roy Hobbs says:

    Why are none of you up in arms that Consumerist is compromising your security and privacy by using Sitemeter?

  20. Roy Hobbs says:

    /puts on tinfoil hat

  21. spikespeigel says:

    People still use IE? What is this, the early nineties?

  22. PunditGuy says:

    A metrics firm screws up the experience of something like 80+% of Web browsers — so it’s clearly a problem with the browser. Because no metrics firm is able to give you site statistics without breaking pages in IE. And before two days ago, that particular metrics firm wasn’t able to handle stats without breaking pages in IE. An no metrics firm does QA testing on the most popular browser out there. That would be stupid.

    Alternative browser users are turning into the new Mac addicts. (Wear your Seamonkey shirt proudly! Camino 4 life, homes!) I’ve got Firefox 3, and and it hasn’t made me thinner or noticeably improved my browsing experience — except when idiots like Sitemeter frak up some code so that I can’t use my default browser.

    Why exactly should I be at the mercy of a site statistic tracker, anyway? Tracking doesn’t improve my Web experience any.

  23. Benny Gesserit says:

    It makes the programmer in me wonder what the heck they did to the html stream that would yank IE’s chain that bad. I assume it injects html/javascript into the stream.

    Of course, I’m quite sure Sitemeter is “taking this very seriously.”

  24. Panamapeter says:

    Ubuntu installs in as a file in Windows and frees you from Microsoft. Don’t like it, delete the file. If you need windows just restart in Windows. It has Open Office, Firefox and Evolution E-mail included. For most things it is very easy to use. Its free! It also has many thousands of free songs by independents.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    @PunditGuy: Why do I get the feeling that if this was eighty years ago, you’d be grumbling that your crank-started car is superior to those new-fangled ones with a starter, and that they’re all cultist fanboys?

  26. Sherryness says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that text looks like absolute CRAP in FireFox? If I switch, it will be to Safari or something similar. FireFox is highly overrated, in my opinion. Especially since their TWO (not one, but TWO) most recent updates make FireBug unusable! By their own admission.

  27. brent_r says:

    I think all of you are crazy to be honest.
    Way to be overly dramatic.

    If we are really going to be honest with ourselves, the computer illiterate majority would never even notice the difference between firefox and IE.

    And to be honest, the differences aren’t anywhere nearly as pronounced as some of you drama queens portray them.

    When it comes down to it, at the end of the day, people are just going to use whatever browser they are most comfortable with … Deal.

  28. Squeegoth says:

    From the Consumerist:
    LOL, idiots, use a new browser!

    In a new “blame the consumer” piece now on the Consumerist, in response to it’s inability to deliver content to it’s readers they’ve decided to be “that guy”. The blog equivalent of the annoying kid who insists that his Linux build is the only way to compute, and that the OS you’re running is ridiculous. The Consumerist offered up today a solution to a problem that one of it’s affiliates caused to it’s reader base, that solution being to install a new browser or compromise the reader’s security to the point where sitemeter.com is listed as a “trusted site” allowing them to serve up who knows what to the end user.

    While the Consumerist did offer practical solutions like RSS feeds in addition to the option to use another browser or leave the fence open in, the suggestion that the readers should make an extraordinary effort to get to their content leads me to a one sentence response.

    “LOL, idiots, use another metrics-tracking site (or at least temporarily shut their program down until they get their act together [do you guys really call this customer service?]).”

  29. 2719 says:

    Firefox is just a basic browser. It’s the add ons that make it so special. Been using Firefox since version 1.xx. I love it.

    Make sure to install the best add on ever called AdBlocker and it *will* improve your browsing experience. After using it for a while try going online without it and you’ll see the difference.

  30. evslin says:

    @spikespeigel: People still use IE? What is this, the early nineties?

    Yes, Internet Explorer is still the most-used browser out there right now. Why are you even pretending to act surprised about that?

  31. VicMatson says:

    It is fixed right now! I got the box a few hours ago, but all gone now…I did nothing, but wait out the storm!

  32. thelushie says:

    @snoop-blog: Snoop, I am going to piggyback off of your post and also give my endorsement of Opera. It is also very customizable. Very worth the download.

    And what is sitemeter? Is it a data mining program? It is! That’s it, I am emailing the….oh wait! (joking, I could not resist. And I do know what sitemeter is)

  33. parrotuya says:

    I only use Firefox at home so no problems there. But at work, I have to use IE for several work-related applications. But I never open consumerist.com at work because you never know who is watching!

  34. Coles_Law says:

    I think “Use another browser” was a useful tip. I use IE6, and I’m not going to change (I hate tabbed browsing), but knowing it was a browser-specific issue let me know the problem wasn’t with, say, my Internet connection, saving a lot of troubleshooting.

  35. snoop-blog says:

    @Sherryness: have you ever tried opera? http://www.opera.com I can’t stop using it since I installed it. The navigation between tabs is phenomenal and I love the speed dial. Plus I like the mouse options(hold right mouse button down and scroll to the right to go forward and to the left to go back.) there’s a lot more shortcuts but you get the idea.

  36. drjayphd says:

    @snoop-blog, @mgy, @Yurei y @spikespeigel: Y’all know some of us are in IT lockdown and can only use IE at work, right? I’d asked about Firefox the first day in the new offices and was rebuffed, so unless anyone has any better suggestions (hides OphCrack LiveCD)…

  37. Sherryness says:

    @snoop-blog: Thanks, I’ll try that one before making a big switch.

  38. snoop-blog says:

    @drjayphd: Man I love working for a company where I have NO restrictions on the net (can even look at porn on them though I don’t….well at least not hardcore porn) and there is NO person in the company even smart enough to look up your history (although I delete mine often).

    Anyhow, I would at least try to get IE7, Unless you have that gay administrator lock. If so, I feel for you.

  39. snoop-blog says:

    @Sherryness: Its super fast to download and install… and you don’t have to make it your primary browser.

  40. Sherryness says:

    You can also put the site meter code just before the closing body tag. That fixed it on most of my sites; I did have to remove it completely from one of my sites, though. I have Google Analytics running on it, too though, so I won’t be completely without my stats. Looks ugly to have sitemeter outside of everything all the way to the bottom, but at least you can still get your stats until Site Meter or IE fixes the problem.

  41. Sherryness says:

    @snoop-blog: Groovy – I’ll get it after I get back from the X-Files Movie. :) I need to check my Site Meter stats and see how many are using Opera these days…

  42. unohoo says:

    Stemeter’s advice is bogus because using another browser isn’t always an option. If, like drjayphd, you work for a corporation where your laptop or pc isn’t configured so you can load software, then you’re stuck with whatever the IT department configured for you. One reason they do that is because they can’t manage the network if they can’t control the software their users have.

  43. sodden says:

    I use IE for most things, but my IE breaks on Digg and when trying to login here, so I use another browser to post here.

  44. P_Smith says:

    @B: If I was using IE, how would I be able to see the instructions of how to fix the problem?

    Not only that, many/most of those who use Infernal Exploder don’t even know there’s more than one browser.

    Back in the mid/late 1990s, a supposed “expert” came to my home to connect internet through the TV cable. The “expert” said, “Where’s Infernal Exploder?” I opened Opera 3 and he said, “There are *two* browsers?”

    Recall that in the late 1990s, there were as many as 15 browsers that had some market share, yet the alleged “expert” hadn’t even heard of Nutscrape or any other.

  45. forgottenpassword says:

    I wondered wtf was going on!

  46. brent_r says:

    @P_Smith: Infernal Exploder? Nutscrape!?

    ho ho ho … you’re so clever …

  47. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Firefox is my main browser with IE for backup – mainly on Microsoft sites that demand IE for downloads or sign-ups.

    Interesting that many are affected by strict corporate polices that do not allow Firefox but do let employees surf & waste time on gawker & other non-work sites. :)

  48. VicMatson says:

    Hasn’t anyone figured that the Author’s fix is bogus. It fixed itself on my machine. So the problem is something different and someone in the data food chain changed something.

  49. lenagainster says:

    I dl’d FF3 (again) and tried it after running into the IE warning when trying to access The Consumerist and another favorite. And again, I was disappointed in the grainy text, the extra steps to open a new tab, and the killer for me was that McAfee SiteAdvisor (for FF) stopped working. Just too old to keep up with all this stuff that computer gurus foist on us and expect that we should instinctively know without explanation. IE is fine by me.

  50. newfenoix says:

    Firefox period except on IE exclusive sites.

  51. LordieLordie says:

    here is my solution to this problem:
    I don’t visit those sites until THEY fix it..

  52. flakeyblakee says:

    Has this problem on several websites last night. Switched to Safari and have had no problems. I hope to see a new mac sitting on my desk soon.

  53. SharkD says:

    @Jim (The Canuck One):

    It makes the programmer in me wonder what the heck they did to the html stream that would yank IE’s chain that bad. I assume it injects html/javascript into the stream.

    The programmer in me assumes that they simply introduced IE to standards-compliant code, which made IE freak the hell out.

    @PunditGuy:

    A metrics firm screws up the experience of something like 80+% of Web browsers…

    Alternative browser users are turning into the new Mac addicts. (Wear your Seamonkey shirt proudly! Camino 4 life, homes!) I’ve got Firefox 3, and and it hasn’t made me thinner or noticeably improved my browsing experience…

    Actually, IE6 and IE7, combined, accounted for about 53% of browser usage in June. FFx accounted for 41%, Safari for 2.6% and Opera for 1.7%, according to [www.w3schools.com] . On the sites I run, it’s been closer to 45% (IE6/7) 44% (FF2/3) and 8% (Saf).

  54. sled_dog says:

    Then still, if code does not work with the majority of the browsers out there, don’t blame the users!

    And dont forget that IE users who go away will not be counted. Doesn’t revenue for this site depend on page and ad views?

    It’s simple …. the software was not properly tested before released. all ire should be directed toward Sitemeter.

  55. KLETCO says:

    As a kudos to Sitemeter, I use Firefox and didn’t notice the issue until someone brought it to my attention. I emailed their support last night and just received this email back:

    We have become aware of a compatibility issue with our SiteMeter tracking code and IE 7 (possibly IE 6) browsers that started 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.

    If you have removed the SiteMeter code from your pages please be assured that the problem has been resolved and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

    Sincerely,
    The SiteMeter Team

  56. GamblesAC2 says:

    AAAAH..I was wondering why I couldnt get to the Consumerist last night

  57. midwestkel says:

    This happened to me on like 6 different websites, I thought IE got currupted and I was like noooooo! I have to make sure this site I am working on is compatible with IE!

  58. kittenfoo says:

    Wait a minute. Could I blame this glitch for the sitemeter stats on my pro blog taking a nosedive yesterday? Does this mean that I don’t actually suck, but a bunch of people couldn’t get to my blog? Because that would be a tremendous relief.

  59. synergy says:

    Hmm I didn’t notice anything.

    Firefox I don’t like because it doesn’t let me accept session cookies while turning away all others. Not last time I checked anyway.

  60. Sherryness says:

    @kittenfoo: I spent a huge amount of time last night working fix for this on all my sites that use site meter (most of them). Move the site meter code to just before the closing body tag. That fixed it on most of my sites. On one site, I did have to remove the site meter code entirely.

  61. Average_Joe says:

    Firefox 3 crashes all the time. I have one buddy that gave up and went back to IE. And maybe this is fixed? Consumerist loads fine in IE7.

  62. BillyShears says:

    At this point, if you’re still using IE6 you pretty much deserve whatever the hell happens to you and your computer.

  63. BillyShears says:

    @sharkd: The programmer in me assumes that they simply introduced IE to standards-compliant code, which made IE freak the hell out.

    You’re closer to the answer than you realize.

    For every major step forward in Internet coding standards, IE6 looks more and more like some jackhole in a Model-T on the freeway. Everyone usually bits the bullet and slows down, but occasionally you have someone who actually needs to get somewhere that’ll inadvertently crash into the thing.

  64. @Squeegoth:

    compromise the reader’s security to the point where sitemeter.com is listed as a “trusted site”

    Uh, read it again. You add it to RESTRICTED SITES not trusted. Probably to prevent sitemeter from even getting to load.

    To compare to a hypothetical situation, think of a TV station helping you to use TiVo to skip ads because one of the ads they show causes your TV to switch off. Not quite the same since this is tracking not ads, but both are things that benefit them. Also this solution is free and easy.

    And seriously, still using IE is just sad. Worst piece of shit ever created (unless compared with Netscape 4.x). From both a user’s perspective AND web developer’s perspective.

  65. malcs says:

    i noticed this on my housemate’s laptop earlier today – thought nothing of it just that for some bizarre reason they had gawker sites blocked! Firefox works A-OK as always for me though!!

  66. RvLeshrac says:

    @PunditGuy:

    It doesn’t help that Microsoft has a KB article on what causes this and how you can not cause it by properly building your site.

    It isn’t Microsoft’s fault that broken code breaks the browser. The difference is that Firefox/Opera/etc ignore the broken code, while IE parses it.

    The browser shouldn’t have to make up for poor development and QA by being overly generous in handling bad code.

    @BillyShears:

    IE8 is STRICTLY standards-compliant, so why don’t all your “Works in Firefox!” “standards-’compliant’” sites work in it?

    If you really want to test your website, run it through IE8. No shims, no shortcuts, no workarounds. IE8 parses exactly what you’ve written, and displays it exactly according to the standards as designed.

  67. RvLeshrac says:

    Oh, and sitemeter is incredibly standards compliant!

    [validator.w3.org]

  68. drjayphd says:

    @snoop-blog: Oh, I have no restrictions on websites either. They’d make my job kind of hard. I just can’t install anything, and due to the way things are set up, Firefox on a flash drive isn’t an option. Que pain.

  69. BillyShears says:

    @RvLeshrac: No.

    Firefox will report broken code like it should, but unlike IE6 it won’t bring down the entire freakin’ browser (which is what the error message in this Consumerist post could potentially do.

    It’s also not the most helpful message in the world, not to developers or end-users.

    “Oh, great. *Something* in the hundreds of lines of code I just wrote is making IE choke. No, no, it’s okay. I’ll find it myself, IE. Don’t worry!”

  70. Nik in Denver, formerly in NOLA says:

    @sharkd:

    RTFA. If you’re going to cite some numbers, at least scroll down to make sure they don’t have the following that basically blows your point to hell.

    W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use Internet Explorer, since it comes preinstalled with Windows. Most do not seek out other browsers.

    These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is used by at least 80% of the users.

    Oops.

  71. glorpy says:

    @RvLeshrac: Firefox makes no claim to be 100% standards compliant. Nor should IE8, because there are known gaps in the standards, particularly since it doesn’t pass Acid3 and Beta 1 fails Acid2 when done on the “wrong” site.

    @WEGGLES90: You should do what I did at work for my co-workers. I installed Firefox, but changed the icon to that of IE. That way, they (along with IT support) can look for the big E they know and love, but get a less dangerous web. I deleted the actual IE icon and did the same in the Start Menu and Quick Launch bar to prevent accidental problems.

    What’s up with people complaining about the text though? I’m guessing you don’t have ClearType configured properly. IIRC, IE uses font smoothing by default, but ideally you would have it in every application.

  72. Kilotonne says:

    IE share of Web browsers is about 75%
    Mozilla FF is at 20%

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  73. RvLeshrac says:

    @glorpy:

    I’m quite glad Acid2 fails when performed using the wrong URL, since this means IE8′s security is working as designed.

    Acid3 does not currently count, as it uses future standards which are still subject to change.

    And, yes, IE8 in Standards Mode was designed from the ground-up to be 100% standards compliant. You have to turn it on, however, which was a wise idea considering the large number of websites which use broken code. The only hiccup, as earlier, involves cross-site and cross-domain security – which is no big deal, because I don’t want content from another domain, or another site, interacting with the current site. That’s where many of our current security holes come from.

  74. MrKlappstuhl says:

    Where is the problem? This is not a bug, it’s a feature!
    Use Firefox (or Opera)!

  75. Blue387 says:

    Currently use IE7, downloaded Firefox 3.

  76. glorpy says:

    @RvLeshrac: Still no, because IE shouldn’t be disregarding the inner object just because the outer one used an invalid URL, but was otherwise syntactically correct.

    And much of Acid3 does count: DOM, DOM2, Unicode, SVG, HTML4, etc. At this point, only CSS3 and downloadable fonts are still works in progress, so a standards compliant browser out to be passing most of the tests right now.

    I’m not telling people to jump away from IE7, as annoying as I may find that browser. But there’s no reason to suffer through IE6 or earlier.

    Still for all the shoddy sites out there, IE8 will default to its truer Standards Mode (compared to IE7′s quirky standards mode), so those sites will break again unless they learned their lesson from IE7.