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haiku error message

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A haiku error message is a poem in the Japanese form on a page advising the user that an Internet problem, such as a 404 error, means that their request cannot be satisfied.

A haiku is a Japanese poetry form based on 17 syllables in three lines:  five in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. In 1998, Salon magazine hosted a competition for creative haikus for error messages, many of which are still seen online. Haiku error messages are one approach to providing a distinctive error page so that the user is amused or entertained rather than annoyed.

Here’s a sampling of the entries from Salon’s competition:

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
-- Francis Heaney

Login incorrect.
Only perfect spellers may
enter this system.
-- Jason Axley

I ate your Web page.
Forgive me. It was juicy
And tart on my tongue.
--server at MIT (not a Challenge entry)

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
-- Cass Whittington

The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless others exist
-- Joy Rothke

Errors have occurred.
We won't tell you where or why.
Lazy programmers.
-- Charlie Gibbs

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
-- David Dixon

This was last updated in May 2014

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