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February 22, 2005 12:31 AM

Broken: Searching MSN for a URL

For more fun, try searching MSN for

Thanks to Ari Becker.


I'm confused, are you saying that MSN is broken?

Search engines index and rank results based on links to websites. is only a redirect to, so no one actually links to

not broken.

Posted by: Isaac at February 22, 2005 03:02 AM

I never would have noticed this, because I never use MSN. I guess this is why.

Posted by: Phill at February 22, 2005 04:57 AM

That's not a results page for MSN Search. It's an error page IE redirects to when it can't find a specific domain. The page always says "We can't find X" where X is the domain name supplied by IE.

The MSN Search results for "" are here:

It finds this site just fine.

Posted by: Ilari Sani at February 22, 2005 05:08 AM


Nice catch on the dns lookup error. You are correct not broken.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at February 22, 2005 09:06 AM

i dont know how you found it with the msn search.

i did my own search from, typing in '' into the search bar.

i got a different looking page, but it still didnt find it.

trying to compare, i did the same search on google and yahoo and both of those were able to find it with the first result.

however this could all be fixed by simply typing in 'thisisbroken' without all the www and .com business in there...

Posted by: Carl Winslow at February 22, 2005 10:56 AM

If you're dumb enough to type a URL into a search box, then *you* are broken.

Posted by: _ at February 22, 2005 12:08 PM


Posted by: Jon at February 22, 2005 12:32 PM

I've watched hours of usability testing and have often seen people type URLs into search boxes. Enough people do it that a good search engine should def. be able to resolve a URL and, if not send the user directly to the URL, at least return search results. Broken.

Posted by: michael at February 22, 2005 03:03 PM

MSN is broken. Try typing "" into Yahoo! or google. Voila! A link back to this site.

From personal experience, I occasionally type partial addresses into search engines. Especially if it is a longer adresss or I can't remember the whole thing.

I agree that a search engine should at least present a list of possible results.

Posted by: JRPanda at February 22, 2005 03:22 PM

I'm not saying this isn't broken - in my opinion, it is. However, I was impressed with one thing about MSN search - I run a small business's website, at On the first day it went live, if I typed Working Iron into the MSN search box, I got our site right away. If I typed it in at google, it was generally on about the 2nd or 3rd page (this is after about 6 months of the site being live, and linked to from as many other places as I could get it). I do realize that google ranks by links to the site. At the same time, I think it makes sense for a search engine to rank sites with those exact words, in that exact order, in the domain name, before listing others. This helps make a business/person/whatever findable. If I'm looking for a business named "Working Iron", the most plausible place to find it would be at the site www.workingiron.something. This should be easy to rank near the top.

Actually, the last time I had tried this was a few weeks ago - it's now at the top of the list at google! Yay google!

Isaac: not all search engines work that way. Many rank results based on words in the page/site. Google was the first (that I know of) to use the 'rank by reference' method. The basics are published in research papers from when the two creators were grad students at Stanford (I think it was Stanford).

Posted by: anitsirK at February 22, 2005 03:40 PM

I might not have been clear. When I said "on the first day it went live", I meant on the first day MSN's new search went live.

Posted by: anitsirK at February 22, 2005 03:42 PM

You could type " GIBERISH!.com" and it would still come up as "We can't find www.MISC GIBBERISH!.com"

Defineitly not broken.

Posted by: Andy at February 22, 2005 04:30 PM


Are you sure there's a site at www.MISC GIBBERISH!.com?

Posted by: fuzzy at February 22, 2005 06:57 PM

Posted by: joey at February 22, 2005 08:18 PM

i think that last post clears this up pretty well...

search for '' and it wont find anything, but tell you to search for 'thisisbroken' which gives a hit on the first result.

if this is too much for anyone...well...maybe he or she should just stay away from computers...

Posted by: Carl Winslow at February 22, 2005 09:16 PM

No, it's not broken if you type If you type, then you get that error message. Clear enough yet?

Posted by: Romano at February 22, 2005 10:14 PM

I wish there was a MISC GIBBERISH! site.

That'd be so cool.

Posted by: Andy at February 22, 2005 10:17 PM

I don't think that is broken. While it doesn't make much sense to us, it does give you an option that gives you the results you are looking for.

MSN could easily design it so that it discards the WWW. and .COM and performs the search. But in order for this to be broken, it has to prevent you from accomplishing what you need to accomplish. It doesn't prevent that, just adds an extra step.

Posted by: Jay at February 23, 2005 09:20 AM

You just have to remove www. and .com on your own.

so... hard...

Posted by: fuzzy at February 23, 2005 05:41 PM

Hey romano,

maybe you get the error message because there are only suppoused to be 3 w's in a url. duh

Posted by: Problem Finder at February 24, 2005 05:47 PM

you mean gibberish like here?

Posted by: Dragon at February 26, 2005 02:53 AM

my god...who the f* cares. You are all a bunch of morons with too much time on your hands. And, I'm one too. For wasting 3 minutes of my life that I will never get back reading the thread, and addressing this message.

Posted by: in2dryfly at February 26, 2005 02:54 PM

Why did you post that message if you hate everyone else who posted a message?

Posted by: fuzzy at February 26, 2005 04:13 PM

Problem Finder: Dipstick. There aren't "supposed" to be anything in a URL. A URL is simply an address for something that somebody made up. In the case of domain names, the third set of letters (reading from RIGHT to LEFT.. first is com, second is thisisbroken, third is www...this is the way DNS works) is called the "subdomain," and can be anything the owner wishes for it to be, including "wwww," "id10t," or "youreawankerformakingmewastemytimepostinglikethis"...

Posted by: Brian at March 14, 2005 01:18 PM

Why do you need to use a search engine to find a website that you already know really well and its URL? What a waste of time!!! Maybe you are broken! But, for your sake, MSN fixed up this problem. Go, ahead. It works now!

Posted by: xxx at April 20, 2005 01:14 AM

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