Problems with access to Overlawyered

by Walter Olson on July 26, 2008

We continue to hear reports, scattered and so far unexplained, from readers around the world who get an “unavailable” or “forbidden” message when they call up http://www.overlawyered.com in their browser. Thus some readers in Australia have no problem with access to the site, while others have reported that they are blocked; and we got a similarly inconsistent report the other day from New Zealand.

The Australian lawyer who writes the interesting blog Stumblng Tumblr writes to say that

I have outflanked the problem. I only regret that it took me so long to think of it. I use Bloglines and it permits me to choose how much of a feed I want to see in Bloglines itself. It finally occurred to me to change the setting for Overlawyered to show the full post in Bloglines in every case, rather than just a summary. That means that I don’t have to go to your site. I just read it all in Bloglines.

I’m very happy to be able to read Overlawyered again!

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Locked-out Overlawyered readers, in Australia and elsewhere
09.30.08 at 10:14 pm

{ 3 comments }

1 Larry Sheldon 07.26.08 at 9:14 pm

Do they use a proxy server? The same one?

If not, it is your server that does not like their Ip addresses.

If they do, it is the proxy server(s) issuing the rejection–probably on IP address.

2 Pete Warden 07.26.08 at 9:23 pm

Very strange. One thing to watch out for is that the canonical address for Overlawyered appears to be http://overlawyered.com/ rather than http://www.overlawyered.com/
If you go to the www prefixed version, it issues a ‘permananent redirect’ that changes the URL in the address bar and directs the request there.

I was hoping that using the numeric IP address ( http://63.247.141.23/ ) might be a temporary solution, but it looks like your server is using virtual hosts and looking at the textual host name to work out what to return.

One possibility is that someone, somewhere in the pipeline is incorrectly caching pages between your server and the users. A quick test for that theory is to try adding a dummy ‘?’ to the end of the URL, eg
http://overlawyered.com/?

This question mark is ignored by your server, but bypasses any caches since they can’t know that it isn’t really a different page.

The LiveHTTPHeaders Firefox extension can be useful for debugging these sort of issues. If any of your readers are able to consistently reproduce the problem, and they’re willing to install that extension, I’m happy to talk them through the simple steps for gathering the information and look through the resulting logs.

3 kimsch 07.26.08 at 9:50 pm

There’s a WP plugin called enforce www preference. it provides 301 redirects to queries with /index.php and enforces your use or non-use of www. This also means that it doesn’t matter what your readers put in the address bar… It’s been working for me for quite some time.

I haven’t had issues accessing your site.

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