Lucky dev

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I bet the dev of that piece was glad they didn’t put something like

“Impossible error” or “no chuffing way to get here error”

I once released an app to the client with the error message

“You can’t do that! Donkey!” left in from ‘debugging’.

Luckily they saw the funny side of it and did not take it personally.

Whats the worst message you’ve left in production code?



12 Responses to “Lucky dev”

  1. Bob Phillips Says:

    Not something I coded personally, but a project I implemeted.

    A coupl of the developers liked a bit of ‘humourous banter’ and whilst testing they would add abusive error messages. Unforunately one got left in, escaped the systems testing and the UAT, and over a year after having gone live one poor user got an error message, something along the lines of ‘what have you done wrong now you f#”$ing plonker’. The poor girl that received this message was understandably shocked.

  2. juux Says:

    I’ve a piece of software whose error trapping routine states “An error has done occurred”, mainly as a way of getting users to report it back to me. You’d be surprised how may comment on the “unusual” error dialog!

    More often than not, my error dialogs are written with a human audience in mind, i.e. not just treating them as an extension of the machine. To this end they often use “real” language instead of the usual quasi-cryptic gobbledegook usually spouted.

  3. tykebhoy Says:

    Wildebeest! Not abusive but surely the workaround for the most prominent cock-up

  4. Simon Says:

    Good call tykebhoy, although I’ve left plenty of debug code in my stuff too.

    Bob I think that sort of message is far more effective than an exclamation mark or a red cross

    juux I bet you’d get an even greater (though not happier) response if you followed Bobs project style. Agreed message boxes are for people, if you want some techno babble write a log file and ask them to send it.

  5. Andy Cotgreave Says:

    We were localizing a piece of software for Windows 98 for schools. It took over the interface and made it secure, and kiddy-friendly. We needed to translate it into Welsh.

    For testing, we played around and set up and Scouser dll file. Oh, how we laughed during development. Oh, how we got utterly bo****ked when we forgot to take it out before development, and some clever kiddy hackers discovered it and the schools got really angry….

  6. Simon Says:

    were they trying to nick it?

  7. Kevlarhead Says:

    “Whats the worst message you’ve left in production code?”

    That’ll be ‘Something nasty just happened…’

  8. Rob Bruce Says:

    I once took over support for an app that was full of stuff like:

    If [some condition] then
    [do something]
    Msgbox “Should never happen!”
    End if

    As I worked my way through the app it became painfully apparent that these bloody messageboxes were popping up all the time. Idiocy.


  9. Simon Says:

    I’ve done global replace ‘msgbox’ with ‘debug.print’ when inheriting similar code. Works fine till they put an icon or title in.

  10. John Nevill Says:

    All too often users just click their way through error codes so I started putting messages that get user attention by being blunt. Instead of “Error 8015: Please contact your system administrator” or something equally tired, I use “Something has gone horribly wrong, please contact the person that deals with these kinds of things.”

  11. Chandoo Says:

    I once wrote this on a scheduling app:
    user can select 2 dates to view all the events that happen between those dates.
    For some reason they actually mention from and to dates in that order.
    So when user gives date like from > to, we showed a message like:

    “we are sorry, but the system doesn’t support time travelers yet”

  12. Harlan Grove Says:

    I prefer error messages of the form

    You’ve selected an option outside your authority.
    Please refer to guideline blah-blah-blah.
    An e-mail to this effect has been sent to your manager.

    I’ve actually used that once. Since the only condition that would trigger the error really was for something outside all field users’ authority (and I had logic to distinguish home office users who did have authority), there was no inaccuracy. That one definitely got users’ attention.

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