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Yahoo Web Page Not Displaying Properly

Long-time subscriber Jim Weber wrote for help with a problem viewing Yahoo!:

Hi Terry –

Something changed on my laptop when I look at a Yahoo news story web-page with Firefox. It looks like Firefox strips the HTML coding (or just ignores it) and displays the web-page like a text file.

Graphics are not changed and the fonts look like they are also unchanged.

I’ve searched for a solution using Google but I have found nothing. Could I have changed a Firefox setting that causes this to happen?

Thanks for your help.
– Jim Weber

Unfortunately, without some basic descriptions of his system, it would be hard to diagnose, so I wrote back to him to ask:

  • what operating system?
  • what version of firefox?
  • what firefox plug-ins/add-ons?
  • give me a sample URL that is a problem.
  • what antvirus program?
  • what firewall?

Jim wrote back to say he was using

Terry –

Thanks for your help. See the answers below. Also, attached are pdf files of that sample URL as I see it in Firefox and in IE 6.0, both on my laptop (Gateway T-1616 with 4GB RAM).

  • what operating system? XP SP-2
  • what version of firefox? Ver. 3.6.3
  • what firefox plug-ins/add-ons? Adblock Plus 1.3.1, TinyUrl Creator 1.0.5
  • give me a sample URL that is a problem.
  • what antvirus program? AVG 9.0.872
  • what firewall? ZoneAlarm 2.6.362

I wrote back to advise Jim that, first, he needs to update Firefox. The current version is v3.6.12, while he was running v3.6.3. Most of the changes have been security fixes. However, it’s possible that the fixes will solve the problem, at least most of the time.

The problem he’s having with Yahoo! is that, for some reason, he did not successfully download the Cascading Style Sheets file that should have automatically been downloaded (included) with the web page’s HTML file from Yahoo!.

It happens some times. I have had that happen sometimes, too, with Yahoo! and other sites. Perhaps it has to do with their server load at the time.

However, it could also be a Firefox add-on’s or other programs that attempts to block or interrupt web site content. His firewall, antivirus and Adblock Plus could be culprits – probably not blocking the files intentionally, but by blocking something else, could cause Yahoo’s servers or Firefox to time-out on delivery of the CSS file.

When this happens, just click the reload icon on Firefox’s icon bar (similarly, click the reload icon if it happens in IE, Opera, Chrome or another web browser program) and it should download the page again and pull the CSS files this time. There are at least 2 CSS files loaded by that particular page.

CSS files are used to set the formatting of the web page content. Current web standards call for the HTML file to contain the content and the CSS file to contain all information about how it is to be displayed on the page, e.g., font sizes, colors, background colors, divisions on the page, etc. (There is also provision in the standards for CSS instructions to be directly included in the HTML file – it works, but is a poor design practice.)

If the CSS file fails to download properly, you’ll see the content without the “design” part of the formatting. That’s what Jim was seeing.

As a final point, after checking the Gateway site to find that his notebook model uses Windows Vista, I advised Jim that he needed to upgrade to IE7 or, preferably IE8, on his notebook.

There are too many security errors in Internet Explorer 6 that have been fixed in subsequent versions. Since some of those significant fixes are not available for IE6, the only way to get them is to update to a later version.

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