AaronCrane.co.uk

An egregiously-broken website

I have a ticket to the William Gibson event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. However, I can’t make it: I’m going to be at YAPC::Europe instead. So, I’m shopping the ticket round some friends. I’d like to point them to the URL of the event. So, I go to the festival website — hey, that’s nice, it’s the first Google hit for the term book festival. Click on What’s on. Select the date of the show. Search within page to find Gibson. Click on the More information link. Go to copy URL into clipbo— just a minute, the page URL shows absolutely nothing of value. The thing I clicked on must have been a POST form.

Why the fuck would anyone do this?

Click the browser Back button. Accept the “re-send POSTDATA” warning. Blood beginning to simmer.

Firefox Web Developer extension. Show form details. Great, it’s not even a submit button for a form; it’s just a button with the same ID as all the other equivalent buttons (so the page isn’t valid).

Packet sniffer. Nope, won’t work — it’s all HTTPS. Why the fuck? All I’m doing is looking at information about what’s on!

Time for the big guns: Firebug. (I might have tried this first; it can do everything I’ve ever tried. But I don’t know it well, so I instinctively reach for other tools.) Inspect element. Note onclick='javascript:showInfo(5719). Console. showInfo.toString(). That calls open_page(), which calls open_url(), which chops up its string parameters and submits a POST form.

After all that, the URL is https://tickets.edbookfest.co.uk/public/show.asp?shCode=5719. I take some small pleasure in being able to do that, but what I can’t understand is who thinks it’s better for sites to work like that. If it’s incompetence, then that’s just bizarre: links are way easier to build than this crap. If it’s malice, then what’s the purpose? Prevent people telling their friends about events? Prevent Google from looking at your site?