Blank Straight Dope Chicago page

I’m not sure if this is the right place for this, but it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else, so here goes:

For some time now, whenever I try to go to the Straight Dope Chicago Home Page ( all I get is a blank page. I don’t get an error message of any sort; my browser (Firefox 3.6.6) shows “Done” on the status line, as if it thinks that it has finished loading the page. I first noticed this when I tried to follow a link on the Straight Dope Home Page to part two of the Paulina Street column. At the time I thought it was just a temporary problem, but it’s persisted no matter how I try to get there. If memory serves, it started at about the same time that the forums were rearranged to merge all the Chicago forums into a single forum, if that’s relevant. Also, if it matters, I’m using Windows XP.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Hm, works OK in Firefox 3.6.4. Questions:

  1. I’m not clear on the problem. You can’t get to the SDC homepage, or you can’t get from the SDC home page to Paulina Street Journal?

  2. Do you have an ad blocker installed?

  3. Are you following a link to get to SDC? If so, from where? Just to test, here’s a link to the home page:

… and to the current column:

Do these come up blank for you?

I’m getting blank pages on both.
Ver.3.6.6 Firefox

If you view the page source, what do you see? Trying to establish if this is something in the HTML, although so far as I know I haven’t changed anything that would affect the display of the page.

It’s Ad-Block Plus. I mentioned this in a different thread a week or two ago, and someone suggested turning off ABP. I did, and the page loaded fine.

I hope this is fixed soon, as most people are going to assume the page is simply broken (which, frankly, it is) and not that they need to disable their adblockers in order to view it.

Yup, that’s it. I installed Ad-Block Plus two days ago.

What on the page is broken, other than the fact that it has ads?

Looks like it’s AdBlock Plus add-on for Firefox that’s causing the blank screens. If I disable blocking of the “###header_ads” blockable item in ABP then the screen loads promptly.

Er…well, it’s displaying as a totally blank page for anyone with adblock software installed. Doesn’t that mean that something is broken somewhere?

Do me a favor. Click on the SDC home page link above with your ad blocker enabled and see what happens. Think a /div tag might have been missing.


Most excellent. Thanks, Ed.

First link fine, second link still blank for me.

I tried the SDC homepage link with ad blocker enabled and got what appears to be a full page, which color illustration of current and proposed north side L service. The link to the current column still comes up blank, though.

Added a missing /div tag. Try it again.

Both work fine and/or dandy. Thanks.

All fixed. Thank you very much. I was starting to think that it was something wrong with my computer, since no one else was reporting any problems. And considering how quick some people are to report things that bother them…

Wish all problems could be solved this easily.

Point of information - the links on the SDC Home page to past columns and the Paulina Street Journal still come up blank. I’m assuming whatever you did to fix the current column will need to be done with them too.

Also, when my son asked me if I knew the capitol of South Carolina, my mind came up blank. Could you fix that too?

Yes, unlike the main column archive, which is generated dynamically from a database - meaning if there’s an error you just fix a single page template - SDC uses static pages that have to be corrected individually, a major PITA. I’m lobbying the honchos to give me the wherewithal for a major site revamp, which will include putting the SDC archive into a database. In the meantime, tell you what, I’ll go back and fix all the SDC pages from the first of this year.