[CentOS-devel] Customize Web Server Errors

John Summerfield debian at herakles.homelinux.org
Tue Apr 1 23:37:08 UTC 2008

mouss wrote:
> Alain Reguera Delgado wrote:
>> Hi,
>> What do you think of customize CentOS web server errors ? See
>> http://wiki.centos.org/ArtWork/WebServerErrors

Can't say I like "Object not found."

What's an object? my wife would wonder. She might understand Document, 
and she might understand Web Page and the like. Object is just too vague 
and has too many possible meanings, and which is correct depends 
enormously on context. OS/2 has objects, they're mostly persistent, and 
when I encountered them I had enormous difficulty understanding them 
even though I was already familiar with objects in Turbo Pascal.

> the first thing I do when I setup a web server is disable any place that 
> advertizes what OS and what version it is running. call it security by 
> obscurity if you like, but I see no reason to provide information that 
> is not necessary to run the service.
> it is also a good practice to setup your own error pages, and make them 
> more "useful":
>    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/perfect404/

60-year-old Doris might not understand "404" but 60-year-old John most 
certainly does, and if Doris needs to ask him, she needs the technical 

I generally agree with that document, but I think some of the language 
could be improved.

For example, change
  but only after he or she has fixed this problem
  but only after fixing this problem.

I find many attempts at "non-sexist" language cumbersome or different 
enough to impede reading and understanding.

If there be people who truly find "only after he has fixed the problem" 
offensive, then surely my form is inoffensive to them, and it's usually 
easy enough to find to be not worth the debate. And it's often shorter too.

Also, be wary of use of humour; I once found a very long and humerous 
404 explanation from a BSD site, along the lines of "I'm only a computer 
and I can't be expected to know everything and besides...," and it was 
rolled out at typing speeds so the tale also had good tension. It might 
not have seemed so funny on the thirtieth reading though.




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