Another Hall of Shame

Just after launching this blog, I ran across another hall of shame. (I did search first, and actually couldn’t find anything, or I’d never have launched this one.) Worth reading, as it does a good job of explaining the lengths to which browsers go to lie about who they are so as to get around user-agent detection, and also includes a sizeable list.

My favorite:

Hall of Shame Dishonor Roll Champion: The FEMA disaster relief application required MSIE 6.0 at the time of Hurricane Katrina, and turned you away if you were using anything else. In a just world, the person responsible for this would be sentenced to a week of living in what remains of the New Orleans Superdome among the piles of excrement left by the evacuated refugees. Come to think of it, many FEMA personnel deserve this fate. However, they appear to have fixed their site now so it doesn’t turn any browser users away. They still deserve a “shame” note for ever designing a site with such a stupid restriction.

Just like with the FAFSA, I really get the feeling that it should be illegal for federal services to require specific browsers. In what world is it okay to turn away my disaster relief application because I dared try to submit it with Firefox? What if my house washed away and I only had a mobile browser available?


The FAFSA is a form which students fill out every year to apply for financial aid. Attempting to use this application with a modern browser, like Chrome 14 or Firefox 7, redirects to this page. The worst part is this bit of text here:

You must use a Compliant Web Browser – Standard* to view our site properly.

Well, at least they seem to care about web standards, right? Let’s check that footnote:

*Compliant Web Browser – Standard
For the past few years, every major Web browser released has been built around a set of open standards designated by the World Wide Web Consortium, a non-profit organization charged with overseeing the continuing development of the Web. What this means is that one piece of code now looks the same on every modern browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or others. The majority of our users are using these modern browsers, so we can present content which is optimized for them.

Emphasis mine. And yes, my sentiments exactly. Here’s the problem:

Browser Requirements to Access this Site (Listed by Operating System).

Erm… Is it really their opinion that “modern browsers” aren’t portable? Since I’m on Chrome, I’ll just examine that section…

Supported Google Chrome browsers:
Windows XP – Google Chrome 6.0.x
Windows Vista – Google Chrome 6.0.x
Windows 7 – Google Chrome 8.0.x
Windows 7 – Google Chrome 7.0.x
Windows 7 – Google Chrome 6.0.x
Windows 7 – Google Chrome 5.0.x
Macintosh Operating System 10.5 – Google Chrome 6.0.x

So, apparently, Chrome 6.0 works on Windows and Macs, and Chrome 8.0 works on Windows, but Chrome on Linux is not a “modern web browser”? Never mind that I accessed this website with Chrome 14. Apparently Chrome 8 is more “modern” than Chrome 14. Huh.

No, it’s not just Linux. Try this on Windows. When I spoof Chrome 13 on Windows, I get redirected to the same page. I was finally able to get in by spoofing the following, made-up user-agent:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/535.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/0.0.

The site works just fine with Chrome 14 on Linux, aside from a small warning that I am using an “unsupported browser” — however, without spoofing the user-agent, I’m apparently using an “incompatible browser”, not just unsupported.

If these warnings and erroneous “errors” were removed, the site works flawlessly in Chrome 14, as far as I can tell.

How is this even legal?