More random acts of tinkering. I need some opinions on this one. On the 404 error page, I decided to add a search form pre-populated with the path of the requested but missing file. Currently, it strips off any trailing slashes and file extensions, splits each part of the path into a single word, then puts those words into the keywords field.
In English, that means that any searches for /new/stuff, /new/stuff.htm, /new/stuff/, etc. gets put into the keywords fields as new stuff.
Nothin fancy there really. My question is this. Do you think it’s better to present people with a 404 page letting them know that something is missing and filling out a search form for them, or is it better to simply redirect the user to the search results automatically?
Some of that comes down to user expectations. Which is less confusing? Being told something isn’t found, or asking for one page/url, and ending up at a search page for no particular reason?