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This appears to have started breaking in the last four hours or so.

To reproduce:

  • Do a search for answers on a Stack Exchange site. For the sake of a demonstration I'll use is:a on Meta Stack Exchange. It also applies to Stack Overflow - and I imagine all Stack Exchange sites.

  • Click one of the linked answers.

What happens:

  • The search correctly displays answers, but the links do not take the page directly to the answer and instead just shows the question.

Taking the answer (post id 342059) to Thank you, Shog9 (the highest-voted answer on Meta Stack Exchange at the moment and therefore the top of the linked search), the URL from the search page is

which, should go to the <a name="342059"></a> part of the page (i.e. directly to the answer) because it ends with a URI fragment (#342059).

It does not - instead the URL of the loaded page is (note the dangling ? at the end and no fragment identifier (#) at all):


This appears to be due to the query string (?) interacting with the fragment identifier. Extracting the characters from the ? to the #, i.e. ?r=SearchResults&s=1|0.0000 to get the URL:

does work - as expected. Note that this is exactly the same URL that the link to the answer from Shog9's profile page points to (i.e. without the query).

The URLs are broken whichever query fields are in there (either r or s) but when I replace the r and s fields with anything else (e.g. ?works=true) to get

it does work. It's like the presence of the r and s fields in the query is breaking it. The meanings of the r and s fields are explained in this answer by Glorfindel to Documentation for Stack Exchange engine URLs?:

Questions

  • Canonical form: /questions/[question ID]/[question title]
    • Parameters (here is an extended but not up-to-date list, these are the ones I see the most):
      • r=SearchResults: visited from a search results page. In this case, a parameter s=[rank]|[relevance] is added as well; see here for more details.

Note that the presence of the pipe in the s field doesn't seem to be the culprit since

works.

Reproduced on

  • { Firefox 84.0.2, Chrome 84.0.4147.89, Edge 85.0.564.67 } on Windows 10,
  • Chrome 87.0.4280.141 on Android 11

both logged in and with private browsing.


This may or may not be related:

For some reason, the URL of the answer changes to add the relevance points (the s field in the query) when I interact with it in the browser. When I hover over it it's

but when I mouse-down (either left or right button) on the link it changes to add another field (s) - adding &s=1|0.0000 () to the URL:

This is reflected in the source, which dynamically changes from

<a href="/questions/342031/thank-you-shog9/342059?r=SearchResults#342059"
    data-searchsession="/questions/342031/thank-you-shog9/342059?r=SearchResults&amp;s=1|0.0000#342059"
    title="Thank you, Shog9"
    class="question-hyperlink">A: Thank you, Shog9
</a>

to

<a href="/questions/342031/thank-you-shog9/342059?r=SearchResults&amp;s=1|0.0000#342059"
    data-searchsession="/questions/342031/thank-you-shog9/342059?r=SearchResults&amp;s=1|0.0000#342059"
    title="Thank you, Shog9"
    class="question-hyperlink">A: Thank you, Shog9
</a>

Weird(?)

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    @ShadowWizardisVaccinating that bug of mine has more to do with lazy loading images without reserving the room fir them in the layout, making it jump. Here something is genuinly broken. – Luuklag Jan 13 at 18:46
  • Doesn't the part after ? belong to the HTML GET "payload" (not a rhetorical question)? Possibly an invalid format for that payload? – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Jan 13 at 18:56
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    @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q - good point - I've edited the question accordingly. Removing ?r=SearchResults&s=1|0.0000 fixes the bug - but that's not... ideal. – Wai Ha Lee Jan 13 at 19:04
  • (The # part ("fragment"?) is, I have now found, supposed to be at the end (after an optional query string part).) – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Jan 13 at 19:33
  • The pipe (|) character is in the set of unsafe characters for a URL. But does it apply to the query string? Possible experiment: encode | as %7C. – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Jan 13 at 20:38
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    Yeah - the pipe should be encoded - but even if I get rid of the segment of the query (segments separated by &) with the pipe like https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/342031/thank-you-shog9/342059?r=SearchResults#342059 it still doesn't go to the answer anchor. Weird. – Wai Ha Lee Jan 13 at 20:41
  • I can confirm the problem for Firefox 84.0.2 on Linux (Ubuntu MATE 20.04 (Focal Fossa)). – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Jan 13 at 20:51
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    Thanks for bringing this to our attention and sorry about the bug! We've identified the issue here and have a fix but we need to make sure it's ready to go, so we'll try to get it out tomorrow. – Catija Jan 14 at 16:57
  • Aha! Thanks for looking into this and getting a fix ready - I'd be interested to see if any of what I said in my answer was accurate. :) – Wai Ha Lee Jan 14 at 17:31
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Good catch, thanks for bringing this up!

The problem was that the #<answer-id> fragment was stripped from the URL after a recent change to our JavaScript. That was not intended and we didn't catch it before shipping and probably wouldn't have spotted this for a good while since this is a rather subtle issue.

A fix is going out as I write this and should land within the next 30 minutes (edit: it's taking a bit longer, I'm on it fix just landed)

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