"We're Sorry — A Server Error Occurred" January 28, 2018 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I've been getting this error message for months, across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone) but today it's reached a peak. I've been refreshing the "Recent Activity on My Favorites" page over the last nine hours and haven't yet been able to get it to load.

This seems clearly not to be the "one-time thing" the error message suggests it might be. Any ideas what's wrong and whether there's a solution in sight?
posted by Lexica to Bugs at 7:48 PM (33 comments total)

We're not sure what it is off hand, but I put this through so if anyone else is having the same problem, they can add their reports, and frimble will be awake before the US contingent so they can take a look when they wake up!

So, we don't know what's up, but we'll try to get to the bottom of it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:50 PM on January 28, 2018

The last couple of weeks (maybe a month) every now and then the site won't be there. I forget the exact error message, but server error sounds like it. It goes away after a few minutes (one time it took 10 or 20). I just figured since the hand-off to cortex there's been some teething troubles so I never reported it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:16 PM on January 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the site was down for me about a month ago for almost a whole day! :(
I was surprised when it came back up that nobody was talking about how the site was down...
posted by Thella at 10:20 PM on January 28, 2018

I know that it helps with these bug reports if you can share your operating system and your browser (ideally with version number, usually under Help - About). If you are still getting this error/can replicate it, a screenshot is lovely! If you have a screenshot (and don't want to post it here!) you can e-mail it to any one of us and we'll get it forwarded so frimble can look at it; my e-mail is in my profile.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:26 PM on January 28, 2018

I don’t know if it's related, but I couldn’t load Recent Activity on my laptop for a month and a half, from early December to mid-January. I wrote it up here. It may have been AVG freaking out, or it can have been something to do with the https certificate, or a genuine phishing attack, but it suddenly started working again. I never had any problems on my iPad.
posted by Kattullus at 11:16 PM on January 28, 2018

Lexica, What I’d like to do is save a copy of your current recent activity, then clear it: that should get it working again and also let me sift through and see what’s wrong.

The basic problem appears to be that looking up the comments for your recent activity takes a long time, and thus eventually fails. That’s why I expect that clearing it out will fix it for you.

If that’s OK, I’ll go ahead and do so tonight: I’m in the process, right now, of catching a plane, so can’t do it immediately.
posted by frimble (staff) at 12:37 AM on January 29, 2018

This happens to me once a week or so with Recent Activity on my iPhone, but when I load the front page instead the site comes right back.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:36 AM on January 29, 2018

Unsure if it's related, but I'm usually on Windows 10, Chrome version 63.0.3239.133. I use classic mode. If I have a tab with metafilter open for a while (maybe 15+ minutes) but am not actively using it, when I click back over to that tab metafilter is now on the modern mode and indicates that I am logged out. Refreshing the page logs me back in and returns me to classic mode.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:08 AM on January 29, 2018

It just happened to me the first time I tried to preview my new AskMe question just now. I loaded some pages showing other parts of the site to test, seemed to be OK, re-submitted the question, and it worked fine.
posted by amtho at 6:26 AM on January 29, 2018

I think there may have been an actual (short) outage this morning? I couldn't connect at all for 5-10 minutes but it seems fine now.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:43 AM on January 29, 2018

I get this weird bug where whenever I read any comment of mine that is more than a week old it looks really dumb and I can't believe I ever wrote anything so stupid. Chrome on Windows 7.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2018 [38 favorites]

I get that, too, bondcliff. Firefox 56.0, 32-bit, Win7. Could it be our OS?
posted by amtho at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2018 [8 favorites]

bondcliff, amtho, is this the error you're seeing?
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2018 [17 favorites]

Ahh yes, once again it's that nut behind the keyboard.
posted by bondcliff at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2018

I get that message once a week or so. Lasts maybe 5 minutes at most. I'll screencap and report next time.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

I went to a Burger King this weekend and got the exact same exact excuse for getting the wrong order, not once, but twice. On the upside, they gave us a free soda for our trouble.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:50 PM on January 29, 2018

This happens on my Android phone fairly frequently, once or twice a week, with recent activity. I'm using Chrome on an Android that has not been updated in awhile despite the nagging icon reminding me to update to 8.1.0.
posted by sockermom at 7:13 PM on January 29, 2018

I have been getting this error on the recent activity page occasionally...I just assumed it was my home network being slow as molasses because I've noticed it when using wifi. (droid, chrome...whatever latest version is.) Next time it happens I will grab info.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:47 AM on January 30, 2018

If you need another data point: I click MetaFilter every time I *must* take a break from work--which is multiple times a day--because it is on the top of my bookmarks list, and the only time in recent memory that I found the site was down with a message about the server (don't remember details) was just a few nights ago, sometime between 3 and 4 am (EST). The site was back up a few minutes later. OS: Windows 10 home, version 1709. Browser is Chrome, Version 63.0.3239.132 (Official Build) (64-bit)
posted by Transl3y at 1:20 AM on January 30, 2018

Are these mysterious outages connected with the sudden upsurge in animals escaping from zoos and other enclosures (more), the unexpected increase in volcanic activity, weird cloud trails, winds blowing the wrong way, strange weather and the unexplained appearance of the Falcon?

(Or is this all going to be put down to "conspiracy theory" again by those who don't want us to join the dots? We, the MetaPublic, deserve answers.)

(Starts to fill underground bunker with several months supply of Ikea meatballs)
posted by Wordshore at 3:00 AM on January 30, 2018

Hmmmm just happened for me right now. Oddly only MeFi is down not Ask or MeTa.
posted by koolkat at 3:27 AM on January 30, 2018

frimble was doing some under the hood stuff related to another issue, is what I think that was, koolkat.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:13 AM on January 30, 2018

Try as I might, I find Metafilter will never accept my comments for the first 10 minutes of my day no matter how many times I hit the button. I'm using a 1994 Casio Alarm Clock, build 24hr_clock_brightness_reduced.
posted by notorious medium at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2018 [9 favorites]

bondcliff, amtho, is this the error you're seeing?

I get an ID10T error.
posted by Splunge at 4:36 PM on January 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Frequent visitor here, no problems ever (or at least since the early aughts). Mac OS 10.12.5, Chrome 63.0.3239.84, Comcast.
posted by beagle at 8:52 AM on January 31, 2018

It seemed noticeably better for a few days after you did whatever behind-the-scenes magic you did, frimble, but it's started again. Latest error message:
Date and Time: 1/31/18 12:50 PM
Your Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:57.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/57.0

posted by Lexica at 12:53 PM on January 31, 2018

I've had a couple times where the site just doesn't load on my iPad, and status.metafilter.com doesn't say anything is going on. I figured it was just me.

If it happens again I'll note time/date, etc.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:07 AM on February 1, 2018

I just checked https://status.metafilter.com and the last post was by PB on February 3rd.
posted by Jesse the K at 10:34 AM on February 1, 2018

A quick general note on outages:

Because of overall server load we are sometimes seeing transient server load issues that lead to an automated reboot of the AWS instance running the web server. This is pretty uneven; sometimes it'll be weeks between an issue, sometimes it'll happen once or twice a day under especially heavy load conditions.

So most of the time if you hit one of those actual Internal Server 500 screens, that's the deal: the web server is mid-reboot and will be back up in a minute or so. Totally fine to report 'em when you see 'em, but also not a big deal if the site is back five minutes later.

The stuff Lexica is seeing is it's own thing—the server is up and fine, but the specific query involved in loading her RA is having trouble. We'll see what gets sorted out there, but I share frimble's theory that it's mostly just an unlucky issue of what is in her RA list. Possibly an outlier number of threads, possibly some threads that are just extra heavy. That it's happening fairly consistently is the notable thing; under heavier load conditions I'd expect lots of folks to run into the occasional page load error there because RA is an unusually heavy query for the server and might time out now and then and if you're unlucky about exactly how busy the DB is right when you ask it to do a triple lutz, it'll just nope out on you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:41 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, that thing I mentioned upthread just happened again when I clicked on JHarris' user page. I don't get it when I click Recent Activity. I don't get this phishing alert anywhere else I've checked on MetaFilter, nor have I ever had it pop up on any other site.
posted by Kattullus at 12:06 PM on February 10, 2018

And just now I got a warning on Safari on my iPad that the connection to was not secure and that someone may be trying to impersonate metafilter.com. Unfortunately I hit reload before I thought to write down exactly what it said, and then it loaded fine.
posted by Kattullus at 10:29 AM on February 18, 2018

It's possible that's a remnant of whatever wifi connection you were using?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:48 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's possible, I had been using a different wifi connection when I first opened the tab.

But the other similar errors I have gotten it's been at home with a computer that rarely leaves it, except when I move (which I did in the middle of getting those errors, which changed nothing).
posted by Kattullus at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2018

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