[Foundation-l] Downtime error message turned into monolingual

Tim Starling tstarling at wikimedia.org
Mon Dec 13 12:27:48 UTC 2010

On 10/12/10 07:36, KIZU Naoko wrote:
> Hi,
> I've got an error message in trying to access Japanese Wikipedia. It
> seems long, but it's not my topic.
> IIRC the message from server was multilingualized years ago and we
> have offered the message with links to other lang
> same messages.
> The message itself seems not changed from the past, but now it's in
> English and only without any links to any other language.
> What happened? Who decided to remove lang links? And what is the idea
> behind of this removal?

I removed it, the decision was supported by Mark and Domas.

Although it was very cool, serving a 65KB page as an error message was
having some unintended consequences:

* Every time there was a outage on the backend, our outgoing traffic
would approximately triple, because the error page was so much larger
than the average response size. The high outgoing bandwidth sometimes
caused further overloads. This was the situation we were in when we
decided to reduce the error message size.

* The jump in traffic when the site was down or slow was making it
difficult to interpret the traffic graphs. Normally, we would expect a
lack of service to correspond to a drop in traffic.

* If someone is sending us requests at an excessively high request
rate, it would probably be cheaper for us to just process the requests
than to serve a 65KB "access denied" message for every request.

* The large error message was inconvenient for people using Wikimedia
websites from clients other than modern web browsers, for instance
command-line utilities that write the error message to the terminal.

In principle, it would be possible to have a short error message with
a <script> tag that loads the multilingual error messages. However,
the server that serves the script would have to be very robust in
order to have a reasonable chance of staying up during downtime. We
didn't think it was appropriate to spend a large amount of time
setting up such a server, just for this feature.

-- Tim Starling

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