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Issue: Some pages return a 404 'Page not found' when, actually, they're there but a user doesn't have access. It's very confusing that these links appear in these 'help for newbies'-type pages, and means this confusion will certainly be repeated because no sensible message is shown to the user upon arrival at a 'not found' page.

Example: At the foot of the "Approve or reject tag wiki edits" privileges help page, under the "Vote on suggested edits" section, the link "suggested edits tab in the review section" appears broken.

Possible solutions: This is not good from a usability standpoint on an otherwise excellent site, and breaks internet standards. The 'correct' behaviour would be to either:

  • Throw a 403 with a nice, friendly, "You don't have the required level of reputation to be able to use this page," with links to help/FAQs.
  • Don't throw a 404 or a 403 and just change the 'Suggested Edits' report page and show a friendly message to users without that privilage.
  • Ensure links to such advanced pages are not available to 'newbies'

I can accept that Stack Exchange might want to not 'advertise' pages that exist for only a select few, but at the same time when logged in as an active member, one would hope to be receive an explanation rather than an error message.

Could this situation be fixed, or the logic behind this behavior explained please?

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  • As a side note, I think you should let your original question first and then put the following edit, it's less confusing when you read it for the first time.
    – tostinni
    Commented Dec 27, 2011 at 15:20
  • Done, thanks... Any chance of a +1 on the question so it gets some attention? Thanks! Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

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https://drupal.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits is the correct URL; if you get a 404 error is just because you don't have the privilege of reviewing the suggested edits, which in fact would require you to have a reputation of at least 5000, while your reputation is just 532.
Stack Exchange doesn't return a 403 error when you have the permission to see a page; you can verify that by looking at https://drupal.stackexchange.com/tools?s=1; I can access that page, but you would get a 404 error, instead of a 403 error.

I checked in other SE sites, and the link is for /review/suggested-edits.

Looking at the RFC 2616 text, you can notice the following sentences:

10.4.4 403 Forbidden

The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it. Authorization will not help and the request SHOULD NOT be repeated. If the request method was not HEAD and the server wishes to make public why the request has not been fulfilled, it SHOULD describe the reason for the refusal in the entity. If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 404 (Not Found) can be used instead.

Reading that, I would take that if the server is not going to make public the reason of the error (e.g. you don't have the privilege necessary to see the page), it could return the 404 error code, and that is something the RFC suggests doing.

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  • OK understood... but that's still broken behaviour. A 404 means 'Page not found', what I should have got is a 403 'access denied' page OR a 'normal' (200) page with a sensible message that explains this. Commented Dec 24, 2011 at 13:46
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    That is what Stack Exchange does; I guess that returning a 403 error would reveal that the URL takes to an existing page, while they want to hide that. You can ask on meta.stackoverflow.com (the mother of all the meta sites) why they return a 404 error, instead of the expected 403. The link is correct, though.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Dec 24, 2011 at 13:53
  • Thank you... I've updated the question to focus on the usability issue your information helped uncover. If you have the privileges, and you think it's a good idea, please do migrate this to the main SE Meta site. Thanks again. Commented Dec 24, 2011 at 14:20
  • The only users who can migrate to Meta Stack Overflow are moderators. Asking the question there is up to you. Consider that asking the question on MSO gets an answer from the developers quicker, as they first monitor MSO, and then any other meta site; secondarily, if you want to propose a change, and you want to get a more large consensus, you should ask on MSO. There are few users who visit this meta, and not all the users of Stack Overflow (which would be agree in changing the behavior) read questions here.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Dec 24, 2011 at 14:32
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There must have been an update made to that page because now when clicking the Suggested Edits review task link on the Approve or reject tag wiki edits page, the 404 error is gone and this message is instead shown.

You need at least 2k reputation to review suggested edits.

screenshot

In the case the Approve or reject tag wiki edits page is visited without first logging in, clicking on the Suggested Edits review task link shows the following message.

Please log in to review suggested edits.

screenshot

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  • I edited the answer to show the page that is now shown instead of the 404 error page. I am glad they do not show a 404 error page instead of explaining what should be done to see the expected page.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Jan 28 at 12:36

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