I’ve seen a few sites that try to “help” you find your way when you get lost… If you happen to request a page that does not exist, you get a 404 error, which means “Not Found.” The typical response (or at least I think it is) is to present this information to a user, and perhaps provide links to the home page of the site, or a sitemap, or a search box, or something of use, but I’ve seen sites that use a meta refresh to whisk you off to the home page after a few seconds. As the old saying goes “this is broken.”

The first problem is, I may never see this error in time. I often load pages into the background, into new tabs, and by the time I view the page, the message about not finding what I’m looking for, and being automatically redirected to the home page, is gone and I’m at the site’s root, and I don’t know why. Bad.

Bad number two, is that in some cases I can no longer see the URL of the page I requested. I’ve even seen a few sites that seem to redirect the 404 to a page that does not maintain the URL you requested, so you lose that information. I don’t care for that either.

(Don’t even get me started on sites that send you a 200 OK status code with a page that says 404 Not Found because that’s so backwards it makes my head hurt…)

(A good browser should allow you to disable the meta refresh “feature.”)

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