Using HTTP status codes in everyday life

Credit: Sandra H-S

Chat acronyms and text shorthand have become very popular for communicating much of what so many of us want to say to each other. Why not HTTP status codes? With status codes, you can transmit some fairly complex thoughts. Just imagine the brilliant minds that have worked out all the details that these succinct little message codes are meant to convey.

Intrigued? Let's see how this might work.

First, those three digit codes that you seldom see on web sites (except for the 404s which plague many of us from time to time) are called "status codes" because they're used for a lot more than telling the other end of a communication channel that an error has been encountered. If we were to make use of these handy codes in our day-to-day lives, just imagine how much easier some difficult situations might be to handle.

Let's say that you just need a break from an intense situation. No problem. That's a 408 (request timeout). And when the waiter at your favorite restaurant trips and drops your dessert on your lap? Excuse the pun, but piece of cake! That's a 500 (server error)! And if your beloved proposes marriage at a time when you just don't feel up to being all mushy, just shoot him a 202 (accepted). Job done.

proposal2 tim parkinson Tim Parkinson

When you want to encourage someone you've been dating for far too long to back off and maybe look elsewhere, that's a 303 (see other). On the other hand, if the replacement tries to kiss you passionately on your first date, you might want to put him/her off with a 412 (precondition failed). Or if your date is trying to kiss you when his/her breath is worse than your dog's, try a 406 (unacceptable). And when you're on a blind date and the guy/gal you're meeting seems seriously "off", maybe you need to challenge him/her with a 407 (proxy authentication required).

blind date al fernandez flickr / al fernandez

When you're at home with your partner and you want to move from a lighthearted conversation to a very serious discussion, try 101 (switching protocols). Or, if you feel the conversation is going nowhere and you want to start over, a 205 (reset content) might work. And when your wife/husband asks where the car keys are, issue a 404 (not found) and continue watching your TV show. To ward off solicitors and other unwelcome visitors to your home, go with a 301 (moved permanently). They'll get the picture.

moved permanently donnie nunley flickr / Donnie Nunley

When you want your ex to talk to your attorney, rather than to you, send a 305 (use proxy). Or if you don't want to answer a question, blame the questioner by issuing a 400 (bad request). And if your housemate is avoiding coming up with half the cash for the utility bills or your ex is late on the child support payment, go with a 402 (payment required).

missed payment simon cunningham flick / Simon Cunningham

When you want your partner to understand that he/she has just seriously upset you, hit the situation head on with a 409 (conflict). And when you want a real kiss and she's giving no more than a perfunctory peck on the cheek, issue a 411 (length required). But when your kid comes home from college and says she wants to join the circus, tell her in no uncertain terms 417 (expectation failed).

clown anthony flickr / Anthony

When your boss asks repeatedly for more than you can possibly deliver, use a 416 (requested range not satisfiable). And when the guy next to you at a staff meeting is blathering on about nothing important and you want to move on, challenge him with a 204 (no content). Or when a large car parks in a compact car spot in the staff lot or the parking garage (maybe even your favorite spot), leave a 413 (request entity too large) taped to his windshield.

compact spot jenny cu flickr / jenny cu

And if HTTP status codes just don't seem to fit the bill in your life, maybe you should consider sending me a 415 (unsupported media type).

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