I checked out the sites you mentioned, and the problem seems to
occur only on AOL. Google and CNN work fine for me. I tested using
IE5,IE6 and Opera 7.01 on a Windows 98 computer. So, we can safely
disregard the possibility of this being a browser error.
The problem you are experiencing appears to be due to a coding
error at AOL. Dynamic URL's are incorrectly encoded and displayed on
the results page.
The URL's for web pages can contain only a small set of characters.
Other characters, which are not part of this set, have to be encoded
and then included in the URL. URL encoding of a character consists of
a "%" symbol, followed by the two-digit hexadecimal code for that
However, some special characters have special meaning and can occur
in the URL without encoding. See this example URL:
Here, the first question mark(?) character indicates that the
characters following it are variable=data pairs. This ? should not be
encoded. Similarily, the equals(=) sign seperating the variable name
indicates that the data value is assigned to the variable specified.
This too does not have to be encoded. However, all the data values
must be properly encoded. So, the second data value (data?2) which
contains the ? character, will be encoded as data%3f2. So the properly
encoded URL will be:
For more information, check out the following page:
- URL Encoding
The problem with the AOL site is that it encodes ALL the special
characters it finds in the URL, regardless of its meaning in the
current context. As a result, when the target site's webserver
receives this encoded URL, the server is unable to decipher that a
part of the URL contains data that is being passed to it. It looks for
a file or directory matching the decoded URL, and on not finding it,
displays an error message.
To get this fixed, you can contact the AOL search team via their
- AOL Search: Feedback
( http://search.aol.com/aolcom/feedback.jsp )
I have already sent a problem report apprising them of the problem.
To check if the problem lay with Google or its search partner, I
performed the search on Google and some of its Search partners:
-> Google ( ://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=PRISCILLA+HAUSER)
-> AOL ( http://search.aol.com/aolcom/search?query=PRISCILLA+HAUSER )
-> CNN ( http://websearch.cnn.com/search/search?sites=cnn&source=cnn&invocationType=side%2Fbottom&sites=google&query=PRISCILLA+HAUSER)
-> AT&T Worldwide (
-> EarthLink ( http://search.earthlink.net/search?site=earthlink-ws&q=PRISCILLA+HAUSER
-> Sympatico.ca ( http://search.sli.sympatico.ca/asp/redirect.asp?lang=en&provider=sli&mode=Popular&query=PRISCILLA+HAUSER&go=true&search.x=12&search.y=9)
-> Netscape ( http://search.netscape.com/nscp_results.adp?source=NSCPTop&query=PRISCILLA%20HAUSER
-> Compuserve ( http://websearch.cs.com/cs/cs_results.adp?source=cscom&uType=5049181&query=PRISCILLA+HAUSER&x=8&y=7
The problem occurred only on AOL, Netscape and Compuserve. This
clears Google, since its and the other partners site worked fine.
Hope this helps.
If you need any clarifications, just ask!
Google Search Terms Used:
PRISCILLA HAUSER ;-)
html url encoding
google search partners
Clarification of Answer by
06 Mar 2003 07:24 PST
Thanks for the 5 star rating. :-)
As for the Google search partners, I believe Google gives them
plenty of leeway on how they can format their results. Hence, any
problems that may occur as a result, are the responsibility of that
I have already informed AOL and CNN of the problem. Hopefully, the
problem will be fixed soon.
Glad to have been of help.