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July 12, 2008 3:50 AM   Subscribe

I can't connect to a couple of sites from any browser. One of them being Wikipedia.

In FF3, I type "" and press go. The status bar gets stuck on "Waiting for". It never actually times out (at least, not within the first couple of minutes before my patience runs out). Similar outcome in IE6. This occasionally happens with Metafilter as well. The first time this happened was 6 months ago. It soon got back to normal and remained that way till mid-June. Oddly, when Wikipedia is OK, Metafilter doesn't load, and vice versa. But mostly it's Wikipedia which is down for the past 2-3 days. I can ping both sites successfully. My hosts file has no entries besides localhost. I'm using OpenDNS alongwith my ISP's.

I'm in Mumbai, India on Metro Ethernet and my (local) ISP techs know squat except their script. OS is XP SP2. No other site gives me problems, except for one, but that seems a server-side issue.
posted by Gyan to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can check to see if Wikipedia (or anything else) is temporarily down by going here -
posted by TheRaven at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2008

Wikipedia has three server farms, one in Florida, one in Amsterdam, and one in South Korea. The DNS servers will look at your IP and route you to the 'closest' one, which means that with you in India, you're most likely not hitting the same server cluster those of us in the US are. (The data is replicated amongst the sites...)

Do you use a proxy server?

Depending on your technical skills, you could pull up a DOS prompt and try "telnet 80" and see what happens. It almost sounds as if you're 'connecting' but not getting data, which seems strange. If you telnet to port 80 (basically doing what your browser does, but by hand), you should see something like

Trying (the IP you see will most likely be different)
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.

You'd then type:

GET / HTTP/1.1

You should get a bunch of junk starting with "HTTP/1.0 301 Moved Permanently" in return, which would indicate that everything works fine.
posted by fogster at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster: fogster,

In PuTTY, I telneted to, got absolutely no response. Just to make sure it's a local problem, I tunneled into a remote *NIX server and tried to telnet from there. I got the response you posted.

If I'm behind a proxy, it's transparent to me. Anyway to find out?

Strangely, as I was typing this, the main Wikipedia portal successfully loaded in the next tab, but when I clicked on the link to English main page, same ol' problem. So I opened a Tamper Data window, and tried a couple of regular sites like CNN and Youtube. I see a lot of requests with their status quickly changing from 'pending' to '200' but with e.g., I don't even see any request.
posted by Gyan at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2008

In PuTTY, I telneted to, got absolutely no response.

And yet ping works? This sounds like a more complicated problem, then.

If I'm behind a proxy, it's transparent to me. Anyway to find out?

No easy way I'm aware of, but yes... tracetcp will apparently do that. Looks like it does run on Windows. It's basically a TCP-based traceroute tool, rather than using ICMP...

I haven't used it until just now, and it seems slow to find things, but I don't have a transparent proxy. All I can imagine (but I'm not a networking expert) is that something in between you and Wikipedia is mucking up the connection.
posted by fogster at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster: A comparison of tracetcp and regular tracert for shows no difference, so I'm guessing no proxy. Any other ideas?
posted by Gyan at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2008

Can you connect to or any other language? Or is it just en that won't connect?
posted by dilettante at 2:48 PM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster: dilettante, I can't connect to the other versions.

Now, again something strange happened just now. I was able to load the main portal. I clicked on 'English' and it actually started loading, but after the background appeared and a white bar near the top, it got stuck at "Waiting for"
posted by Gyan at 9:53 PM on July 12, 2008

One possibility is MTU, your packet size. I posted a quick guide to troubleshooting MTU with MeFI on MeTa awhile ago, but you can do the same thing with other sites. If you're sending packets that are too large, and either your firewall or your ISP's equipment is set incorrectly, you can get exactly the symptom you're describing.

Another possibility would be a malfunctioning invisible proxy. The only way I know to test for this is by setting up an SSH tunnel to an outside server, and then seeing if the connection works that way. It has to be an encrypted connection, or your ISP can start fooling with it. I don't know if there are free public proxies available, but I'm sure there MUST be ones you pay for. An SSH tunnel would eliminate an invisible ISP proxy as a possibility; if Wikipedia fails both ways, the problem's something else.

I tend to suspect MTU might be the problem, and would suggest testing that first.
posted by Malor at 2:21 AM on July 22, 2008

Oh, you can also try the public DNS servers at through for name resolution, as an extra test. Also use them to look up your own IP address. If wikipedia is doing a reverse lookup on all connections (which is almost always a bad idea on their part), and if your reverse lookup is bollixed, then connections can hang.
posted by Malor at 2:23 AM on July 22, 2008

Response by poster: Wikipedia is not loading for me at present. So while I was loading it in FF3, I carried out the ping you suggested in MeTa, and it was successful with no packet loss. So, MTU doesn't seem to be the issue.

As for the invisible proxy, I'm not able to telnet to Wikipedia, but when I tunnel to a remote server and telnet from there, I can. But as seen above in an earlier comment, I don't seem to be behind a proxy.

Doing a reverse lookup on my IP at DNS-Stuff gives a well-formed response to my eyes.

What next?
posted by Gyan at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2008

Response by poster: Update: While tinkering around in FF3, I disabled javascript, and the problem mostly disappeared. Earlier, when FF3 got stuck at MeFi, pressing Stop would leave me with a blank page. With JS disabled, when it gets stuck, at least the HTML gets rendered but without the CSS applied. So this is an improvement, but still leaves the mystery intact.
posted by Gyan at 1:04 AM on August 2, 2008

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