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March 5th, 2010

marcmagus: (regexp)
Friday, March 5th, 2010 12:17 pm

This signal needs boosting even if LiveJournal has actually speedily responded and repaired the problem. This is why we test before we ship, people. Especially with stuff that has potential financial impact. Seriously.

In brief, yesterday LJ shipped a code change which used some really sneaky JavaScript to munge outbound links when you click on them. Yes, as I'm reading this, that means that for most users the address they saw when hovering over the link was different than the link they were actually directed to upon clicking.

Specifically, the code would cause outbound links to a whole bunch of e-commerce sites to have the LJ affiliate link silently added. In fact, it would even replace an existing affiliate link with LJ's. Seriously, that's the behavior people are reporting.

It apparently only made these changes when your page was being viewed by someone who wasn't logged in. That's not really any comfort.

I haven't actually gone through the code to confirm it did what people are saying, but what I'm reading is certainly plausible.

More at the following:

  • http://vichan.livejournal.com/392527.html
  • http://shatterstripes.livejournal.com/1065670.html?format=light
  • http://shatterstripes.livejournal.com/1065749.html?format=light
  • http://shatterstripes.livejournal.com/1066190.html?format=light

The problems with this are so numerous I don't even know where to begin:

  • This is a major change [even if it seems minor] that never should have been released without thorough testing.
  • Stealing money from users.
  • Creating misleading links like that is not ok for any reason, and could well break functionality on some browsers.
  • ...