Tempest in a teapot: How a 15-year-old rallied programmers to save one of the web’s oldest jokes (GOOG, GOOGL, MSFT)


teapot with the art of tea written

If you’ve spent any time browsing the web, chances are pretty good you’ve run into a page with an error code on it.

You’ve likely seen numbers 404 (“not found”) or 403 (“forbidden”).

Less commonly spotted is error code 418, which makes your browser proclaim “I’m a teapot.”

If it sounds like a joke, it is: Way back on April Fool’s Day in 1998, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) — a group that sets internet standards — proposed “a protocol for controlling, monitoring, and diagnosing coffee pots.” That document defined status 418 thusly: “Any attempt to brew coffee with a teapot should result in the error code ‘418 I’m a teapot.’ The resulting entity body MAY be short and stout.”

The error code has since become a running gag.

Go to Google.com/teapot, and see for yourself. Programming languages like Node.js and Google’s Go both include the 418 error as a little Easter egg, as does Microsoft’s ASP.NET framework. Someone even rigged a teapot to act as a web server, just so it can proudly display error 418 when you visit it.

On Thursday, however, the future of code 418 was briefly called into doubt. In a GitHub thread, Mark Nottingham, the chairman of the IETF working group that oversees hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), argued that the 418 error was never a part of the standard, which governs how web browsers communicate with web servers.

People should stop treating 418 as a core part of the HTTP standard, and free up the error number for more serious concerns, he said in his post.

“I know it’s amusing, I know that a few people have knocked up implementations for fun, but it shouldn’t pollute the core protocol,” Nottingham wrote.

This prompted a swift, but fiery, debate of the future of the …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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