One of the more annoying trends in "Web 2.0" apps is the (mis)use of humor in error pages.
Many of my readers know what I’m talking about – you logon to your favorite social web app, feed search engine, photo site, etc., only to see an upside-down bird or some other goofy picture alongside a "funny" error message.
I hate this. With a passion.
It’s like the creators of the site are saying, "Hey, it’s a Web 2.0 app, so it goes down all the time – isn’t it funny?!"
No, it’s not funny when a site you’re relying on to do your job or communicate with others goes down. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my operating system, word processor, or development tool to tell me jokes when they crash.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a light-hearted error page on a site that rarely has problems. But many of the sites that have goofy error pages are among the least reliable. They go down all the time, so you end up seeing the same tired attempt at humor over and over and over. It’s like that drunk idiot you see at some parties who keeps telling the same joke to everyone within earshot. The joke might be funny the first time you hear it, but by the end of the night you want to decapitate the annoying bastard.
So here’s the rule: any site that goes down more than twice a week has to replace funny error messages with a page that lists the home phone numbers of the people in charge. Not only would that guarantee that more effort would be taken to keep the site running smoothly, but it would also give us someone to call when we want to share a joke we just heard ("Hey, sorry for the interruption, but didja hear the one about…")