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Karoo users redirected to Ask.com for failed DNS lookups
Tuesday 25 March 2008 14:42:29 by Andrew Ferguson

The Register has highlighted the latest advertising revenue scheme to be deployed by a broadband provider. K-Com who run Karoo, the broadband provider in the Hull area, has started a partnership with Ask.com where the provider will get a cut of advertising revenue for directing users to Ask.com.

The redirection will occur when a user types a website name into their browser address bar and the DNS lookup this triggers fails to find an actual site, users are then redirected to Ask.com rather than the browsers usual error page.

The system is detailed on Karoo's own website. The hope that Karoo have is that customers will click on the sponsored links and thus generate income. The unofficial Karoo User Forums reveals that at least some Karoo customers are unhappy with the new system.

As The Register highlighted, Karoo is not the first UK provider to do this; Tiscali and Orange are just two others. Providers trying to generate extra revenue for a service is in itself not bad, it can help to keep the price to the consumer down, but a delicate line must be walked between upsetting customers and adding some money to the right columns on the balance sheet. For Karoo customers one big problem has been the monopoly the provider holds over broadband provision in the Hull area, whether the changes in wholesale pricing will alter this remains to be seen.

Comments

Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
It's a pain when the likes of Tiscali do that. In Firefox, if the name isn't found, it does a Google "I'm feeling lucky" search. That means you can just type "thinkbroadband" to get to this site. You don't need to remember if a site's .com, .org, .co.uk. etc. 9/10 you'll get the one you wanted.

Hopefully it's possible to write a Firefox add-on that stops the Ask.com pages and sends the query to Google as usual.
Posted by mattcoxonline over 9 years ago
I personally don't mind Ask.com, and so something like this wouldn't offend me. However, I'm not on that ISP and have been using OpenDNS for ages.
Posted by Pigmaster over 9 years ago
Yeah that a good idea NOT.

I type in a site say www.thinkbroadband.co, of course I have missed out the m of com, so I am presented with ask,com in the hoe that I would click on some ad for nappies or vigra etc. Why I want to go to thinkbroadband.

Are these people stupid, do they really think that if some one is desperate to go to a site that they would stop half way and click on an Ad.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
jrawle - And 1/10 you get a porn site. I turn that feature off (it's not firefox's fault, I know, but...)

Anyway: Is this only for port 80 HTTP requests, or are they breaking other applications? Karoo don't have a very low customer satisfaction rating for no reason...
Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
"In Firefox, if the name isn't found, it does a Google "I'm feeling lucky" search."

Maybe yours does, but mine don't, mine have always said "Problem loading page", "server not found", etc on DNS lookup failure. But then I tend not to install any "value added" toolbars etc in Firefox (so far). Maybe something you've done/installed causes the behaviour you see???
Posted by carrot63 over 9 years ago
Being as Kcom have a monopoly on BB provision in Hull, this makes a bit of a mockery of the usual whine of "Just change ISP" so beloved of the data-pimping apologists. Perhaps "customer pimping" is a better generic term for this type of ISP behaviour.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
This is nothing new, isps have done this type of thing for ages, heck even IE by default goes to a Microsoft (MSN search if i remember right) when you type something in the address bar that cant be found.... Nothing new, but again something for the few to whine and get their underwear in a bunch about.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Again, there's a difference between a user browser-configurable setting and something an ISP does which you can't change.

Moreover, there's some suggesion they're doing it for ports other than 80 which can badly break certain applications.
Posted by jrawle over 8 years ago
The Firefox feature only works if you type a word into the location bar. If you type something it recognises as a domain (e.g. bbc.co) it will give a DNS error. I use "vanilla" Firfox from mozilla.org. I have to say, I can't ever remember this feature not finding the site I wanted. I don't want my ISP changing the DNS lookup process - they are in effect phishing.
Posted by aos101 over 8 years ago
>> Moreover, there's some suggesion they're doing it for ports other than 80 which can badly break certain applications.

It's got nothing to do with ports or just HTTP. This is done before HTTP in DNS, so all domains that the DNS server would normally say don't exist instead now get pointed (resolved) to a Karoo/Ask.com server instead. If it just affected HTTP it wouldn't be as bad, but because it's done by breaking DNS it affects everything that uses DNS.
Posted by aos101 over 8 years ago
@CARPETBURN: This is different because it is breaking a fundamental Internet protocol for all applications (instead of IE just doing what it wants). Unlike what IE does, it is breaking DNS for all applications that use it. With this system, DNS no longer behaves how client applications expect, and this is why the automatic Firefox "I'm feeling lucky" search thing stops working.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
aos101 - All domains which do not obey their (often broken) DNS lookup, you mean.

Again, we're in a situation where it's better for applications to brute-force and ignore RFC's.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Its nothing new, freeserve many moons ago not only screwed with DNS to give redirected results, but they even had their own proxy other stuff went through. LOL
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
Just because "its nothing new"(x2) hardly makes it a good idea that we should all be welcoming with open arms. Your "few" would appear to be the majority here. I suggest you try the dictionary to acquaint yourself with the difference between paranoia and concern.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Your "few" would appear to be the majority here."
which in turn is a few people isnt it, unless you can show a MAJORITY of karoo customers have expressed their opinion here.

quote"I suggest you try the dictionary to acquaint yourself with the difference between paranoia and concern."

I suggest if you are going to claim it is not paranoia you demonstrate with evidence the redirection to ask.com is harmfull in any way.
Which it isnt.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Infact while we are on the subject of dictionarys... where the heck did i even mention paranoia previously in any post about this subject? If i need a dictionary, you need specsavers.
Posted by chusan01 over 8 years ago
It must be so frustrating having to use KAROO
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