Occasional "Zowies"

Every now and then, some of our users have reported seeing the "Zowie" screen, indicating a server error of some kind has occurred. We have tracked down and squashed what we believe to be the primary culprits.

There's two different kinds of errors that can cause a Zowie:

  • The system encountered an error executing some of our code. These are quite rare, and we virtually always fix them within hours.
  • Timeouts. These are the ones that have been seen more frequently, and they are harder to track down. In general, nothing has actually failed, but something took a very long time, and our software gave up waiting.

We identified a couple of database tables that did not have proper indexes, and which caused some operations (such as the automatic clearing of the server cache when modifying certain content) to take far too long.

Please let us know if you see one of these gremlins popping back up.

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