Help Bloody Elbow fix its ad problems *UPDATE 2

Some readers have been reporting malware-like issues on the site, and we are working to fix it.

By: Terence Pek | 3 weeks ago
Help Bloody Elbow fix its ad problems *UPDATE 2
Hyperbolic illustration of a cyberattack. | MAXPPP / Thomas Toussaint, IMAGO

Update (Friday, 17 November): We removed what we believe is the source of the malicious code. Let us know in the comments below if you are still running into unintended behaviour. Thank you Bloody Elbow readers for helping us narrow our search and get the site back to performing as intended.

Hi BE readers,

I’m one of the developers of the Bloody Elbow website. Recently, the site has been having some issues with its ads, and I’m writing this to seek your assistance in helping us solve this issue.

Ad problems? What ad problems?

For the uninitiated, since about a couple of weeks ago, some readers — as well as some of our own editors — have been reporting incidences of malware-like behaviour on the site, such as:

  1. The site crashing on iOS mobiles after scrolling for some amount of time, with the message “A problem repeatedly occurred on [URL]“.
A problem repeatedly occurred
On some mobile devices, the page eventually crashes if you keep scrolling.
  1. Forced redirection to a phishing page about updating an outdated McAfee subscription.
McAfee Phishing Attempt from Ads
I’m sure you, our reader, is too smart to fall for this. But it’s still unpleasant to see.
  1. Forced redirection to a phishing page of a Google “search rewards” scam (Google has no such thing) on mobiles.
Fake Google Search Rewards scam
Google has never run a “search reward” programme.
  1. Forced redirection to an Amazon trial program phishing attempt, using a $750 gift card as bait for scamming.
Amazon Gift Card Scam
If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
  1. Forced, script-driven refresh of the page, which can be annoying if you are trying to write comments.

After some investigation, we’ve determined that the issue is coming from the ads that we are running from the site. Since Bloody Elbow has become independent this past April, one of the main ways the site has been subsisting itself is through ads. As such, we have multiple ad networks serving their ads on most of our pages and articles.

The tricky thing now for us, is determining which ad networks — and by extension — which specific ad(s) are causing the issue mentioned above. There are thousands of ads being served on this site every day, and these ads vary depending on your region, demographic and information consumption habits. As everyone is served different ads, it is difficult us to pinpoint the specific ad(s) which are causing the problem. I, for one, have never run into any of the problems listed above, or any malware-like behaviour, on this site.

How you can help

Whenever a bug is reported to us, the first thing us developers will do is try and recreate the bug. If we can’t recreate the bug, then it is extremely difficult for us to pinpoint where the issue is. Here’s where you can help us — whenever you run into a bug on this site, we will appreciate it very much if you can head over to the comments section on this article and report the bug there. When reporting the bug, we will appreciate if you can include the following details:

  1. A screenshot or (preferably) animated GIF of the bug. Our comments section accepts image uploads, and you can use ScreenToGif to record the footage.
  2. Which pages you went to before the bug occurred, as well as if there is any consistent way to recreate the bug. This helps us pinpoint the ad(s) responsible.
  3. Do your issue(s) occur on articles without ads, such as this one? Again, this helps us narrow down the possible causes of the issues.

Thanks for reading this! With your help, we will be able to buff up Bloody Elbow and make it free of malware and bad ads.

Strong Doge
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About the author
Terence Pek
Terence Pek

A full-stack developer and full-time nerd, Terence helped to screw the backend nuts and bolts of the now-independent Bloody Elbow website. He likes fighters who have brash, controversial personalities like Chael Sonnen — as well as his kids, Conor McGregor and Colby Covington.

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