Chrome hangs when searching for "allahu akbar" but not "fluffy puppies"
June 13, 2013 5:13 PM   Subscribe

When I use Google Chrome to search for certain terms, the browser tab hangs. In this video, it hangs on "allahu akbar" and "osama bin laden". I have not been able to reproduce this issue using other browsers or benign terms (like "fluffy puppies"). What causes this behavior?
posted by compartment to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Does this happen consistently? Have you tried closing & restarting the browser?

I just tested this out myself (Macbook, using Chrome) and had no problem. I tried it in an incognito window, as in your video, and in a regular window. All the searches loaded just fine.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:18 PM on June 13, 2013

I can't reproduce this in Chrome in Massachusetts. Are you currently in Oregon? It occurrs to me that if you're currently in another country that has some kind of web filtering at their border, it might cause flagged terms to load more slowly, if at all.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:21 PM on June 13, 2013

Response by poster: Good questions. Currently in Oregon. Closed and restarted. I've noticed this behavior in the past for various other search terms (for example, the names of 9/11 hijackers cause Chrome to hang), but I didn't think much of it. It seems consistent, but I switch between Chrome and Firefox enough that I wouldn't deem it consistent with absolute, complete certainty. Quitting and restarting does not help.
posted by compartment at 5:24 PM on June 13, 2013

Lately I have noticed Google search via the Chrome address bar hangs now and then in that way, but works fine when I repeat the same search via the search bar on a Google page. I think it is related to the latest Chrome redesign. The problem is not related to particular search terms, your examples notwithstanding.
posted by beagle at 5:26 PM on June 13, 2013

Best answer: The Arabic phrase is likely to return right-to-left results. I wonder if that makes a difference?
posted by tayknight at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

I get instantaneous results searching for both phrases using Chrome on my iMac.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2013 is becoming an interesting alternative. Maybe something worthwhile to check out? You can change the default search engine over to them, it is explained on their website, and if you want/need google/bing you can just use a !g or !b in front of your search in the address bar.
posted by nostrada at 5:41 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can you duplicate the effects if you search directly from the google website?

I would look into what chrome does with searches from the address bar like that. Perhaps they route the search through some other mechanism besides a normal one? Perhaps it goes through some intermediate server or the link gets munged somehow. (It's clearly adding something to the link besides the regular search term, as can be seen in the video.) It's also possible some kind of malware has gotten in there and is getting in between your search terms and results.
posted by gjc at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2013

I've reproduced this in San Francisco. Spooky.
posted by yoz420 at 6:19 PM on June 13, 2013

Response by poster: Yoz, what OS are you using, and what are the version numbers of your OS and browser?
posted by compartment at 6:21 PM on June 13, 2013

MacOS 10.6.3 - Chrome 27.0.1453.110
Regular browser window
posted by yoz420 at 6:25 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a slight delay when searching for Osama bin Laden while incognito, but it was barely a stutter.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:29 PM on June 13, 2013

For me the problem is very apparent - the browser windows totally hang and the results for the problem searches ("osama bin laden", "khalid al-mindhar") do not come up. "Kale" and "kaled" work. "Khaled" doesn't.
posted by yoz420 at 6:41 PM on June 13, 2013

OK -- I am having the same ultra-mysterious problem with searches for "Maimonides," "Mishneh Torah," and "Mohammad K." Here is a somewhat long Google+ thread in which several Google employees try and fail to figure out what the heck is going on here. Most people weren't able to reproduce the hang but a few people did. When it hangs, does your Activity Monitor show a Google Chrome Renderer process using 95-105% of your CPU? That's what happens for me.

Another note: I search from the search bar on the Google page, not from the Chrome address bar.
posted by escabeche at 6:56 PM on June 13, 2013

I distinctly remember reading something about this being a bug having to do with R-to-L fonts in Chrome on OSX. I don't recall where I read it, possibly even here, but I can't lay my hands on a link now.
posted by jferg at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, I get the runaway Renderer process too. The problem occurs independent of where I search from - chrome address bar or search box in page.

The chrome window displays the results count, but hangs when trying to actually populate the results.
posted by yoz420 at 7:10 PM on June 13, 2013

Best answer: Possibly related to this Chrome bug.
posted by jferg at 7:11 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

This sort of thing was a constant problem for me in Chrome, which is why I stopped using Chrome. I would never know what tab might hang like this on a given day. I do not think the search terms have anything to do with the issue.

I am not sure why people keeping talking about the right to left script since you are searching in English according to your linked video.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2013

Yep, makes sense that it's an arabic language bug. Searches for "arabic" and "Jordan" fail. "Hebrew" and "Israel" are working, so it's not all R-to-L fonts.

Guess we can close the file on this one, nice one jferg
posted by yoz420 at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2013

For what it's worth, i consistently have this problem on XP, 7, and OSX 10.8/ML. What queries cause it are random seeming but reproducible.

However, the only time it really bites me is when i've left the browser open for a few days at a time without restarting it.

Does it freeze when entering certain URLs? because that's also a concurrent issue i've noticed.
posted by emptythought at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

What if you tell it to only return results in english?
posted by gjc at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2013

My search language settings are set to only English results, but some English results still include another language in the 3-line preview for the result. Try searching for "hebrew" to see what I mean.
posted by yoz420 at 7:20 PM on June 13, 2013

San Francisco, Chrome, both regular and incognito - loading immediately.
posted by amaire at 7:47 PM on June 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, everyone. Just for the records, if anyone stumbles upon this thread in a Google search, I am using Chrome 27.0.1453.110 on OS X 10.6.8.

I think jferg is correct. Searching for "tabouli" causes the browser to hang, "tabouli recipes" works fine. The difference seems to be that the former returns hits that contains an Arabic phrase in the search results; the latter does not.

Many of the hits that cause the browser to hang come from Wikipedia. When it makes sense to do so, the first sentence of articles frequently has a parenthetical remark showing how words or names are written in Arabic script.
posted by compartment at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

And here I was all ready to blame the NSA snoops.
posted by megatherium at 4:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey compartment, can you post your user agent string from this page?
posted by deathpanels at 6:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is related to searching but until about a month or two ago, Chrome would crash whenever I tried to access al-Jazera in Arabic. I had a lot of problems with many Arabic websites.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:19 AM on June 14, 2013

Don't ISP's do some sort of pre-fetching or caching. Perhaps there fluffy puppy results are more likely to be in memory.
posted by fingerbang at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2013

Response by poster: Deathpanels, my UA string is:

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_8) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/27.0.1453.110 Safari/537.36

Fingerbang, I don't know about ISPs, but fluffy puppies are always likely to be in my memory.
posted by compartment at 5:01 PM on June 14, 2013

Response by poster: One more comment: I thought I had stumbled upon a case where Arabic script in the Google results did not cause a hang, but I was incorrect. It was Urdu script I was looking at, not Arabic — two different things.
posted by compartment at 8:54 PM on June 14, 2013

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