SiteMeter glitch knocks thousands down

August 4, 2008 | 12:51

Tags: #glitch #internet-explorer #javascript

Companies: #sitemeter

An embarrassing bug in Javascript code used by site monitoring service SiteMeter left thousands of websites inaccessible to Internet Explorer users on Saturday.

As reported by DownloadSquad, the bug was introduced in the Javascript code used by websites to track visitors via the SiteMeter analytics service as part of changes the company is making to update and improve its systems. While the code works fine in any third-party browser you care to name, Internet Explorer 5.5, 6, and 7 all choke fatally when the bug is encountered. Ironic, as one of the things the service purports to offer is uptime monitoring.

Many popular websites including Gizmodo and LifeHacker use the service to track the browsing habits of their visitors, and all were out for the count when accessed by Internet Explorer users on Saturday morning. It took several hours for SiteMeter to revert the code and fix the problem, with many users opting to switch to the plain-jane HTML tracking rather than waiting for SiteMeter to repair the problem.

The good news is that all affected sites are now back up, with SiteMeter offering its sincere apologies for the issue, blaming the problem on work “on the backend system for our upcoming website launch.” Quite why the changes, which resulted in issues viewing SiteMeter-tracked sites where the Javascript tag wasn't a direct child of the body tag and additional problems with webmasters viewing their own statistics, only affected Internet Explorer users hasn't been made clear by the company.

Do you believe this issue should be taken as a hint for end-users to move away from the monopoly Windows-based web browser, or instead for webmasters to think about alternative analytics services? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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