I looking for an article that I read once but cannot find now.

The author described his approach for error messages: instead of displaying (and logging) a code (e.g. 987345345EXRTET), he would always display (and log) a series of words (e.g. dolphin pancake Wednesday), and that series would uniquely identify the error in the logs.

Users inevitably found these error messages novel, refreshing, intriguing, memorable, and useful--useful because if they ever needed to talk to Support about something, the tech support could immediately find the occurrence of that error by searching that particular string.

Did anyone else see that article (or could you flesh out this approach better so that I could actually implement it)?


Other than providing a novelty value and possibly trigger a smile on both the user's and support staff's face, I can't see how searching for the string "dolphin pankakes wedensday" is any different from searching for "E12345".

I would not confuse my users with seemingly random messages when errors pop up. I'd rather first try to give a real description of what went wrong, then an easy ID tag they can use in support cases.

Also, another factor is searchability on the net. Again, searing for "E12345" will probably yield more relevant results to more people with the same issues than searching for common words. Say what you will about Window's horribly long error codes on the bluescreen, but if you search for it you will find what went pop.

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  • I've thought the same things, but I remember the article bringing up great points that convinced me. – Ryan Mar 29 '12 at 15:45
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    If anyone can find the article, it would be a very interesting read! :) – Amadeus Hein Mar 30 '12 at 5:57

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