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Friday, May 6, 2005

Google Accelerator Deleting by Prefetching

Ouch – this is the second problem which apparently arises when using the Google Web Accelerator, as pointed out by Signal vs. Noise:

“Google’s web accelerator seems like a good thing for the public web, but it can wreak havok on web-apps and other things with admin-links built into the UI. How’s that?

The accelerator scours a page and prefetches the content behind each link. This gives the illusion of pages loading faster (since they’ve already been pre-loaded behind the scenes). Here’s the problem: Google is essentially clicking every link on the page – including links like “delete this” or “cancel that.” And to make matters worse, Google ignores the Javascript confirmations. So, if you have a “Are you sure you want to delete this?” Javascript confirmation behind that “delete” link, Google ignores it and performs the action anyway.”

First of all, it’s good practice for webmasters to never actively change data on GET requests as is the case here, but only on POST requests – so technically, a site which deletes anything on a GET request (only those are prefetched by Google) shouldn’t have done this, and the Web Accelerator is not guilty. But still, this sounds like a big problem for those using the Accelerator, no matter whose fault it is.

[Thanks Ades in the forum.]

Update: I wrote a small test-case to reproduce this behavior but could not reproduce any prefetching (even when I allowed prefetching in the Accelerator settings, and in the HTML).


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