“Erroring off?”

Has anyone told you that a program is “erroring off” or that some system “errored off?” Occasionally I have the pleasure of receiving such notices and every time it makes me cringe.

Let me explain something. “Error” is not a verb. You can’t error. It’s not possible. When you type “erroring” it has a red wavy underline for a reason.

You can err. “Erring off” is at least valid English, but I’m not sure what purpose the “off” serves. “Erring” works by itself.

Or you could just use one of the industry-standard terms, like

  • crashed,
  • failed,
  • went down, or
  • is unavailable.

As a bonus, most of these actually convey the nature of the problem. The only information “erroring off” conveys is that you not only don’t know exactly what went wrong, but also have a substandard grasp of the English language.

6 Replies to ““Erroring off?””

  1. If it’s a program error, I tend to prefer the phrase: “threw an error”. There’s a slight connotation in that which is: it’s the program that is causing the error, not some random transient thing we can’t understand. It implies a specific error and a specific place in the code to investigate.

    Also, if it’s a server, I prefer “went down” over crashed. I like to reserve crash for an actual physical hard drive crash. I think too many people equate “computer not doing what I want” to “computer crashed.” I think there’s a real opportunity to lead by example there. 😉

  2. As an analogy to a plane crash, I have no problem using “crash” to describe a program exception (particularly a segfault). IMO, services go down, programs crash, and hardware fails. Really, really bad hardware failures can also be crashes, such as hard drive failures as you say.

Comments are closed.