Happy 4.04 Day!

Today is April 4th, which means that it’s 4.04 day — even in Europe where they switch their months and days around. That means it’s a perfect day to learn what a 404 status code is. Essentially, a 404 is a way for web server to return a “Page Not Found” error when a browser requests a web page that the web server doesn’t have.

Happy 404 day!

If you have no idea what a status code is, start with these two posts about HTTP Headers and what they mean, followed by an introduction to common status codes used by web servers.

A few months ago, Maile Ohye organized a “404 week” on the Google webmaster blog. You can learn what a 404 is, how to make a 404 page more useful, why you should avoid “soft” or “crypto-404s”, plus read some Q&A about 404s and see examples of good 404 pages

There’s also a great feature in Google’s webmaster portal to show you who links to the 404s on your site.

Happy 404 day! Today is best celebrated by making 404 jokes with friends (“404 error: beer not found”), posting pictures of good 404 errors, and general merriment.

31 Responses to Happy 4.04 Day! (Leave a comment)

  1. It is indeed 404 day. I think Google should have done something like that for April Fool’s Day. Like 404 the Google Homepage :)

  2. Not just in Europe, in North America too, in the province of Québec in Canada we use metric system and the y/m/d which is smarter for computer ;-)

  3. Eric Baillargeon, anyone that goes by YMD format is okay in my book. :)

  4. me!

    So as someone from Europe (who lived for some time in the US) I can’t get used to this m/d/y notation. I mean, d/m/y and y/m/d are both fine for me (and logical too, as the size of the unit is either increasing or decreasing). But m/d/y? No – that’s just plain wrong.

  5. RogerW

    >where they switch their months and days around

    Huh? The little endian form of writing a date is used in the vast majority of countries in the world! So I don’t think it is us Europeans that are doing the switching. There are even more countries using the big endian format (starting with the year) than countries using the middle endian form like the US, which really has to be the most illogical way of expressing a date.

  6. Simon

    ISO 8601 – the proleptic Gregorian calendar needs you ;)

    Byron, I heard Google were going to do a similar article for April 1st as a joke, but they couldn’t get the authorization.

    (Okay I’ll stop now)

  7. RogerW, next you’re going to tell me that everyone else uses metric, too. ;)

  8. Dave (original)

    I love it when Yanks think THEY are the norm :) I bet all the Yanks who read this Blog are now off to Google “metric system”.

    As of 2008, all countries that used the imperial system have become officially metric (except for the United States, the United Kingdom, Burma and Liberia).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_unit

  9. Dave (original)

    Even with YMD dates, one can still easily mix up the Month and Day. ALL dates should be: d/mmm/yyyy, mmm/d/yyyy or yyyy/mmm/d

  10. Jim

    I personally like my date and time formatted as the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970.

  11. Matt shame on you for not mentioning the safe canonical date format “DD-MON-YYYY” which is of course the ONLY date format to be used for SQL

    and of course everyone uses metric for work purposes :-) I can still remember having to convert between american (imperial) to Metric in my first job – of course now I have completly forgotton what some o fteh more exotic fluids units mean

  12. @Dave

    dont for get that American Imperial is diferent to UK Imperial and that the UK went metric a long time ago

  13. Matt,
    With 404 error pages, is the best solution to re-direct users via your .htaccess file? as on some servers this is disabled (Mod-rewrite). One fasthosts, probably the biggest host in the UK they have a setting within there re-selling account. BUT this then returns a page without styles when you are on a different layer i.e. folder/404.php . To combat this (with out typing http://www.yourdomain.com on every link) we used a 301 header re-direct back to a different page on the first layer called custome404.php. Does this mean essentially that i am using 2 x 301 re-directs and does it mean that it could have a negative effect to my listings in Google?

  14. angilina

    Hello Matt,

    I think its a good day to ask you a 404 related question.

    Is this normal to see this in Google webmaster tools?

    404.php 404 (Not found) unavailable Mar 29, 2009

    Google webmaster is showing the 404 page to be not found.

    So for a page that used to get a 404 error itself is not found and have a 404 error? :)

    Is this a normal thing?

    Regards

  15. lol

    happy 404 day you guys!

    a nice piece of masterpiece you have Matt!

  16. I think you are making this one up.

  17. Dave (original)

    @Maurice

    Has the UK *officially” gone Metric?

    Seems to me that the Yanks are the only odd ones out with measurements and dates. Good to see propaganda is still alive and well is the US. Ignorance is bliss ;)

  18. Dave (original)

    Nick Rinylo, don’t redirect a 404 page. Customize it so it is user friendly.

  19. You’re wrong. Europeans don’t switch their months and days around. Americans do. :)

  20. I’ve always preferred celebrating March 1st (the day of redirection)

  21. Dave (original)

    Are we also going have a happy 1.01,2.01,3.03,5.05,6.06,7.07,8.08,9.09,10.10,11.11 and 12.12 day?

  22. Cannot find the day… 404 here.

  23. This is great! I am a few days late, but better late than never :o)

    I actually never knew that they switch their days around in Europe on 4/04 day…

  24. Hey happy 301 redirects

  25. curious

    I found this searching for information regarding the difference on 404 vs. 410 errors. I “feel” like 410 is the more appropriate return code for my situation (see http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?fid=13df163eed7b9f1c000467fbb2a81adb&hl=en).

    However, given that they are still treated differently in the webmaster tools I’m concerned that I may be getting penalized for them. Seeing that they’ve been treated differently since 2006 (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/more-webmaster-console-goodness/#comment-88373) this seems to reiterate my concern.

    I find lots of questions in the comments on this blog on this topic, but am struggling to find anywhere a real answer on 404 vs. 410 and if it’s “bad” to use the 410 even though it appears to be more appropriate. Should we take the fact that 4.10 day wasn’t celebrated as a implicit answer to that question?! :-)

  26. Could you show this post to the Blogger team? Its 404 page is not user-friendly (take a look at this example: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/404).

  27. Hi, European here! Actually YOU switch your months and days around, since the logical sequence is ordering them by measuring unit magnitude. 4 april 2009, or 2009 april 4 :P

  28. 4xx error

    Agreeing with curious I too wonder if G is penalizing those using 410 instead of 404. Since I started returning 410 I have dropped from 400k+ pages in index to 13k and I still submit about 1 million links to my site in my sitemap.

    I wonder when G is gonna start recognizing http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html as they say they do and stop showing 410s as 4xx error in GWT.

    Just curious too

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