Make error messages more useful: add a URI

Ken Hornstein kenh at
Thu Oct 2 22:57:33 EDT 2014

>In general I am an error message minimalist; I think error messages
>should be useful, but also readable.  I do not generally see URIs or
>unique identifiers in the error messages reported by my applications and
>tools; in the rare cases where I do, it tends to make me feel like the
>application is clunky.

I can offer my experience being on the developer side and having to deal
with end-users as part of a big rollout.

>From an end-user perspective, the error messages are almost always
meaningless; they all boil down to "system failure" (I'm talking about
the average end-user).  In our environment users don't google the text
error message; they contact the support desk.  So they either have to
read the error message over the phone or (more sophisticated) they
can cut and paste or do a screenshot and send it via email.  I think the
majority of support happens on the phone.

Now if URIs did pop up, would users click or cut & paste them?  Maybe.
I don't have a good sense for that.  I think we'd be willing to write
custom web pages that would deal with a lot of first-level tech support
questions, which might be nice.  We'd need an easy way to provide a custom
set of URIs to Kerberos implementations, though; I don't really want to
have to patch com_err tables.  Nico's later suggestion about a line in
libdefaults looks interesting.


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