When Your Error Page Generates A Timeout, You’ve Crashed Hard

More fun with Twitter, secondhand:

If your error page is timing out, you're in trouble
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It has crashed so badly that not only is the update portion not working, but it’s returning a 408 error, which means that the Web server is timing out while looking for the custom error page.

Which leads me into a short bit of rant about a piece entitled In A Web 2.0 World, Quality Is Irrelevant (link seen here):

Still, I’m not in full rosy concurrence with the idea that we should kick quality completely to the curb. For one, it’s not that quality doesn’t matter — it’s that the definition of what constitutes quality is changing. The old idea that quality is defined by editing an article six ways from Sunday so that it’s denatured of all passion and advocacy, and so that that it has every freakin’ semicolon and middle initial in the correct place — that’s what’s dead.

So what’s the new definition of quality? It’s a bit early to say definitively, but I believe what’s gelling is consistent with the post-literate society I believe we’re now amidst. (At this point I should probably send a friendly text message to my teenage daughter. To which she’ll respond: KK LOL ROFFL TTYL.) Namely, quality is now measured out more in engagement — videos, pictures, short and pithy commentary — than in llooooooonng, boring blocks of dense text. Which nobody reads anyway!

The author is speaking mostly about writing style and typos, but of course developers are happy to generalize it to code and everything else.  However, shifting the definition of quality away from, you know, quality and to strengths the definer has (speed, relevance, authenticity, a blog on a magazine’s domain, an espresso machine in the kitchen) ultimately only serves the complacency of someone who defines quality down.

For in a Web 2.0 world, particularly one with eager Noah Websters out there who’ll tell you their application is the alpha and the omega, flaws and all, quality will remain a differentiator, and a bigger differentiator at that.  Although one expected a certain floor of minimum quality standards with most products up until about 1996, with software and applications, particularly those written poorly like Twitter, one gets first-to-market as the goal or tipping-point users or something other than stability and quality.  Once better quality products come out, though, users will migrate to them.  Blogs with fewer typographical errors will garner respect more than those rife with things like Steev Jobs had a herat attack!!!!

Of course, if your goal is to build it and cash out rapidly or to grab the youth market where newness and authenticity trump quality and stability instead of building a solid, long term user base, I guess quality isn’t for you, but then again, you probably don’t have a test team anyway, so worrying about redefining quality isn’t even a problem you’re addressing.

No Responses to “When Your Error Page Generates A Timeout, You’ve Crashed Hard”

  1. philk Says:

    I thought that would get a comment from you, glad you didn’t let me down 😉

    So, do you think that if a Twitter alternative came out that didn’t timeout when looking for an error page then all Twitter users would migrate to it ?

    Ever read Zen and The Art of Motorcyle Maintenance ? Do you define quality as being defect free ?

  2. The Director Says:

    I think a Twitter alternative with a greater reputation for reliability would certainly draw more users. Of course, Twitters days might be numbered if the youth of the world decide to cast off the customs of their elders (and by elders, I mean those four years older than they are) and go to something else as buggy.

    I don’t believe any code is defect-free; those that seem so have defects yet to be discovered. I think a quality application is something I can use/test for some length of time and not find fairly obvious flaws. Additionally, this would include an interface that lacks grammar and spelling issues; any time I see those, I just assume the developers are as code-illiterate as they are English-illiterate and that logic defects aren’t far below the surface.


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