Search this site:


April 8, 2005 12:09 AM

Broken: 9-11 Commission search

Stan Miller writes:

It's just about impossible to find anything on the 9-11 Commission's Web site because no matter what you search for, almost every result is exactly the same except for the filename that's the target of the link, the size of that file, and the relevancy of the result. I e-mailed them last fall about this; no change.

[For example, search on intelligence or Iraq and you'll see what Stan is talking about. -mh]


I don't see a problem with the page.

Posted by: Ed at April 8, 2005 02:38 AM

Yeah, broken, looks like someone used the exact same title and meta description for almost every page which then makes it tough to sort through what you are looking for. My own clients are guilty of this. We do websites for hospitals and government agencies, and then the customer maintains the site themselves. No matter how hard we stress the need to vary the title and description to be relevent to the page, people always forget to do it.

The result is that some searches return what appears to be the same document over and over again. Very broken, and very easy to fix.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at April 8, 2005 06:20 AM

The difficulty is that all of the web pages have the same TITLE attribute, and the first paragraph from *all* the web pages is a boiler plate announcement that the web site is frozen.

Search engines for sites often display in search results the TITLE of a page along with opening text from the page to provide context. But when combined with the pervious noted page construction, we wind up with search results that are a list of seemingly identical documents.

The lesson here is that a properly constructed site needs to have somebody familiar with proper page construction overseeing the work. So that something as simple as informative TITLE attributes are set!

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at April 8, 2005 08:54 AM


My thoughts exactly, unfortunatly most of the time this information is being put up by secretaries with little/no training, and in their hectic day the last thing they care about is remembering to update the title attribute on their template.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at April 8, 2005 10:47 AM

This is not broken. if the search worked, then the terrorists would have an easier time searching for references to themselves.

Posted by: Bobo at April 8, 2005 03:06 PM

Nah, it's not broken. We're not supposed to be able to find anything out about it! (lol)

Posted by: Robert A. Dugger at April 8, 2005 03:28 PM

A solution to the identical-opening-paragraph is to have the search engine use if it exists.

But since it's "frozen" I bet nobody could go anywhere near even the smallest typo without months of procedure and beaurocracy. Which in this case is NOT broken-- otherwise we're in 1984.

Posted by: Reed at April 8, 2005 04:23 PM

Just one thing: what percentage of people viewign this comment found out about this site from Popular Science? I'm one.

Posted by: no one at April 8, 2005 04:30 PM

Me, too, though this has nothing to do with the badly-tfrozen website.

Posted by: Invalid Atribute Index Adam at April 8, 2005 06:24 PM

no one - I'm not sure we're allowed to go that off topic.

(Oh, and, I knew about this site before I read about it in Popular Science. I'm surprised more people don't post comments considering all the publicity the site's getting from PopSci.)

Posted by: Shadow at April 8, 2005 06:59 PM

PopSci, man! (Yeah!) And Mozilla Firefox! (Yeah!)

Posted by: nickd at April 8, 2005 07:10 PM

I was just wonderin'. Cause even though it's like a few square centimeters in PopSci, I had no idea of this site before.

And, shadow, it's not like they regulate posts. (ok, I agree that the 911 site is screwed.)

Posted by: no one at April 8, 2005 07:14 PM

I'd search the site via Google, by entering a search term like this: iraq

Posted by: Bob Sifniades at April 8, 2005 08:42 PM

Yea, I found out about it through PopSci and show up every day since. But this is a website funded by the Federal government. These people are the same ones that spend millions of people on an inagural ball for a second term. Why should they invest in a little detail such as one that reports on the most violent attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor? (PS, Forgive my spelling, there isn't a spellchecker in here and I'm too lazy to open up word.)

Posted by: Jeff at April 8, 2005 11:47 PM

They don't want us to find anything on the site.

It's a conspiracy :D

Posted by: Bob at April 9, 2005 08:58 PM

This one is broken.

(And I did find out about this site from PopSci.)

Posted by: a cheesepuff at April 10, 2005 09:59 PM

Catch-22: If the site is a huge broken mess, then according to the government, the site is okay...

Yes, I came here through PopSci. I became a loyal reader from the first time it was featured. Does anyone remember "Moby D**k" from iTunes?

Posted by: Invalid Attribute Index Justin at April 11, 2005 02:36 PM

Hello? Department of Redundancy Department? I'm just placing a call to call you about getting a Washington job by way of gaining employment in Washington, and I was wondering if you had any openings that were open. What's that? You have a search engine terms design position open that would let me design search engine terms? That's good news that sounds good to me. When can I begin starting?

Posted by: Christoff at April 22, 2005 08:55 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: