The Great Google, Firefox, Fortigate Incompatibility Caper

You expect problems like these to follow hard and fast rules. What am I doing differently the fifth time I press retry than the fourth or third or second?


Don’t feel alone. I don’t understand what that error message is saying either. I’m just plagued with it!

It’s a tech problem at work. It’s an incompatibility between Firefox 3.0, Google’s encrypted sites (like Gmail, Adsense, Webmaster Tools, Google Docs, etc) and our Fortigate firewall. Intermittently my web requests to Google get rejected with error messages. It can take a half dozen retries before my Gmail is sent or other task completed.

It’s a strange problem because it’s both software related and intermittent. You expect problems like these to follow hard and fast rules. What am I doing differently the fifth time I press retry than the fourth or third or second?

There is very little about this online. I can find people with my problem. I find a smaller subset who’ve realized it’s this specific firewall box that’s the wild card. I can’t find anyone with concrete tips to make the problem go away!

It wasn’t this way until Firefox went from version 2 to 3. It only happens with Google’s SSL encrypted sites.

It’s driving me slightly nuts.

9,421 Problems Are Gone

I’m still not on Google, but Friday night’s purging (Thanks again Bob) has made a measurable difference.

Google’s webmaster tools now says it can’t find 9,421 pages on my site. Each and every one was a spammy link page. Some of the descriptive text in the URLs is very disgusting.

It is scary what can happen while you’re not watching! I’m hoping this chapter in my life is over.

Blogger’s addendum: Sitemap has been in my banned words list. I’m not sure why. I know someone tried to comment tonight and got rejected because of it. It’s now outta here.

Addendum II – As of 10:54 PM EST 1/21/08 Google reports 26,524 spammy pages it can’t find! I’m curious to see how high the number goes.

I Have Disappeared From The Web

How do you talk with God? And, who is God anyway?

Is Google God? They pull a lot of weight and have become the gatekeeper of the Internet. Tonight, they removed me from their index. It is an amazingly weird story.

I’ve been writing about my traffic here on the blog recently. I mentioned some suspected reasons for the dropoff, especially traffic referred by Google.

To confirm some suspicions, I did a Google search on this site. It would instantly tell me which of my pages were most popular.

I was stunned.

The list was long and mainly consisted of pages I hadn’t entered! The pages were virtually 100% made of keywords and links. They were obviously computer generated without human intervention.

I clicked on one. The address bar in my browser read… I went to my web server and looked for the files that made up this page. They weren’t there.

My friend and ix-guru Bob said my webserver might have been hijacked. The bad files were now hidden from me. That’s as good a guess as any, but wrong.

Though the address bar said, if you manually typed the web address you’d get a 404 error – page not found! Something was very fishy.

The content really wasn’t on my site. Somehow, Google had been tricked and was sending people one place while saying it was another. I’m totally confused.

I went to the Google Webmaster Help forum and posted a note. Twenty minutes later, the bogus ad pages were gone from Google. So was nearly everything else in my site. A few hours later, the rest vanished.

As I write this, if you enter “” in Google, you get nothing! I am devastated.

I went to Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Pages on your site may not appear in Google search results pages due to violations of the Google webmaster guidelines. Please review our webmaster guidelines and modify your site so that it meets those guidelines. Once your site meets our guidelines, you can request reconsideration and we’ll evaluate your site.

Holy crap. Google has blacklisted me. As far as the Internet is concerned, I will cease to exist. No – I have ceased to exist!

I’ve already filled out a form, begging to be reconsidered, though I don’t know what I did wrong. Google won’t tell. They also won’t tell how long they’ll take to fix, or whether they’ll fix it at all.

Maybe Google isn’t God, but it sure acts like it. I’m just a little schlemiel with a simple website. What if my livelihood depended on this?