back to article Ancient IETF 'teapot' gag preserved for posterity as a standard

The august and serious folk at the IETF have always had a soft spot for their April Fool's jokes, and so do others – so much that a proposal to deprecate a joke has met with successful resistance. From what feels like the Internet Dark Ages of the 1990s, was the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol, a joking anticipation of …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge

    Made My Day

    Sometimes you need a break from the madness (and kittens make you barf). Thank you for this post.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Made My Day

      You mentioned kittens?

  2. Ucalegon

    Instant of Tetleys?

    At least 2000 perforations in that set up?

    1. James O'Shea

      Re: Instant of Tetleys?

      only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers, but I repeat myself, would even consider instant 'tea'.

      1. Clive Harris

        Only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers ... would even consider instant 'tea'

        And socialists. Because socialists believe that "proper tea" is theft.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers ... would even consider instant 'tea'

          "And socialists. Because socialists believe that "proper tea" is theft."

          Non, mon brave, vous avez tort. M. Proudhon était français, donc il ne savait rien du thé, et il était un mutualiste / anarchiste, pas un socialiste. Mais c'est une erreur facile à comprendre, car il y a beaucoup de gens qui pensent que M. Corbyn est marxiste. Aujourd'hui, même les insultes sont lancées par ceux qui ne comprennent pas leur dérivation.

          1. Nightkiller

            Re: Only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers ... would even consider instant 'tea'

            Meaning (via Google Translate)

            No, my good man, you are wrong. Mr. Proudhon was French, so he knew nothing about tea, and he was a mutualist / anarchist, not a socialist. But this is a mistake that is easy to understand, because there are many people who think that Mr. Corbyn is a Marxist. Today, even insults are thrown by those who do not understand their derivation.

          2. JLV

            Re: Only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers ... would even consider instant 'tea'

            >mutualiste / anarchiste

            N'empeche. C'etait plutot drole, non? Et que tant de rosbifs comprennent?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Only barbarous savages or coffee drinkers ... would even consider instant 'tea'

          Because socialists believe that "proper tea" is theft.

          That's what the Boston Terrorists said too! Now, if they'd just had a proper, civilised tea party instead, the world might be a happier place.

      2. LesB

        Re: Instant of Tetleys?

        Quite. I was offered something claiming to be "Turkish Apple Flavoured Instant Tea".

        In a moment of weakness, I tasted it. It struck me as being a wee bit too sweet.[1] I managed not to spit it out, but it was a close thing. I then read the label and all was explained. Ingredients: 96% sugar, some flavour, and probably a tea leaf or two waved over it.

        So a more accurate description would be "instant sugar drink with a hint of flavouring"....

        [1] Note: this may be an understatement

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Instant of Tetleys?

          Read "Turkish Apple Flavoured Instant Tea" and stopped at "wee".

      3. spacecadet66

        Re: Instant of Tetleys?

        Barbarous savages, coffee drinkers, or Americans. But I repeat myself repeatedly.

        (Disclaimer: I am one.)

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Instant of Tetleys?

      I always thought perforations were a rip off...

      Mine's than one with the pocket of Yorkshire tea

  3. Adam 1

    more important than ever

    Shirley the need for a 418 response is more justified than ever before given the vast growth of IoT interconnectivity.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: more important than ever

      You do know that The Internet of Teapots will become Skynet?

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: more important than ever

        You do know that The Internet of Teapots will become Skynet?

        We may not have to wait Oolong to find out

      2. Swarthy

        Re: more important than ever

        You do know that The Internet of Teapots will become Skynet?
        As opposed to what we have now: The Internet of Tosspots.

    2. theN8

      Re: more important than ever

      Error 418 shall become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And stop calling me Shirley!!

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: more important than ever

      Too bad it wasn't a 419 response. :)

      1. Swarthy

        Re: more important than ever

        I thought a 419 error was "Bank Account Empty - Nigerian Prince Not Found"

  4. redpawn Silver badge

    If you've ever

    consumed a mix of tea and coffee you know why this error is needed. I still feel sick 40 years after the experience, any time I'm reminded of it.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: If you've ever



      How timely, just speaking about this 'coffee' in the tea and how horrible it is. It happened to me a few years back, and it was only a couple of drops of coffee. I once had to get hot water out of a coffee machine that dripped the previous coffee into my hot water...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't we just reserve 499 for extensions?

    Make that a code for an extended error, where old implementations that only look for three digit codes will not get the full information, where those that do will see something like "499 extended error 49912345 actual error text" and drop the first part.

    Trying to deprecate existing errors, even ones included in jest, is just going to cause confusion. Especially when haven't run out yet.

    1. JLV

      >error 49912345

      "if status_code < 500" is a valid, even if rough, error triaging...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: >error 49912345

        The code will be 499, not 49912345. That's the extended code that will not be in the canoniclal <xxx><space><text> error code section. It would be in a following line (marked as a comment) or at the end of the text if being in the following line is not possible for some reason.

        So error < 500 would still work just fine.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Can't we just reserve 499 for extensions?

      If HTTP ever reaches 499, someone surely badly misused it. Just, it wouldn't surprise me, given how HTTP is already badly misused.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. TDog

      Re: Ah, developer humour.

      I nearly creased myself when reading the 6809 op instructions:

      "|BRN m|21|------| x|3|Branch Never |NOP "

      With the comment that this was included for symmetry with branch always...

      "BRA m|20|------| x|3|Branch Always |PC=m"

      Can't beat the NOP (No operation) for ensuring safe code flow.

      1. JulieM

        Re: Ah, developer humour.

        The very early ARM chips actually included a "never" condition code, which was available on every instruction. Meaning 1/16 of its entire instruction set was effectively NOP!

        Much of the space formerly occupied by these "useless" (but preserving the symmetry) instructions has since been allotted to new instructions, though.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Ah, developer humour.

          if I want to make a never ending loop i do something like:

          DO UNTIL "hell" = "frozen over"



    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah, developer humour.

      I used to work as a dev and insert humour in comments and function_names.

      Back then, we had a bloke working in the adjacent office who would routinely yawn very loudly. Once, it occurred at a time I was writing a function to make the process sleep until an event happened.

      So I called my function go_to_bed_el_greg (Greg was the guy's name).

      10 years later, an ex-colleague told me he laughed out loud several years later, having to update the said Perl script.

  7. andreas koch

    killing off the fun bits . . .

    If all the fun bits are taken out of all of IT, it will really belong to the penpushing beancounters.

    We are almost there, and when we arrive, coding will be 6Sigma'd and all these wasteful indentations that only cost storage space, obviously, duh, and all these extra protocols like tcp (to be replaced with a 'get it right first time, every time' strategy and a penalty for dropped packets) will have to go because they're in the way of improving efficiency.

    RIP ddate.


  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    As mentioned elsewhere

    The humourless ones are taking over.

    ddate was recently removed from linux-utils

    The manpage for tune2fs has had the "You can tune a filesystem but you can't tuna fish" comment removed.

    *sigh* :(

    1. Lusty

      Re: As mentioned elsewhere

      Surely the commit for that change had a user associated? Let's revoke that joyless persons access to the Internet! Also, undo the code change and start a joy war in open source :)

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: As mentioned elsewhere

        Again? This has been going on for 15 years:



        1. John Gamble

          Re: As mentioned elsewhere

          It's a pity the anti-ddate people seem genuinely befuddled about it. It's as though they seem unable to get in touch with their sense of humor at all.

          A friend once included in his project a "truth" function that returned true if the argument was 42, and false otherwise. It was even documented that way, with no further explanation as to why.

          He did get asked (which he never answered as far as I know) what he had against the asterisk character. He thought it was sad that these people had never read The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

          I plan to revive the program, and I will not be removing anything from the function list.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: As mentioned elsewhere

      Agreed. Few tea pots can stake a claim to fame in quite the way that a coffee pot can. Then again who could think that a simple camera to check the status of the coffee pot would eventually become the webcam standard.

      1. Dave 32

        Re: As mentioned elsewhere

        I seem to remember that a Coke (TM) machine even predates the coffee pot:


        P.S. Hmm, maybe a beer machine should have been even earlier?

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: As mentioned elsewhere

      Does anyone remember GRA and SCR in the DECUS library for RSX11M? SCR(atch) entering a line into the graffiti database and GRA(ffiti) pluked one at random. Very popular in the command lines of the day in my lab.

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    How else will we ever build an infinite improbability drive?

    Kudos to all involved for looking at this and deciding to keep it. Even if it is just about an Easter Egg in the specification, it also says something about not changing stuff just because we can.

  10. AceRimmer1980

    Enterprise Javabeans

    404 Earl Grey not found

    1. earl grey

      Re: Enterprise Javabeans

      I'm sad.

  11. Darianne1


    Great story! Let's keep humor's so much more fun when we can smile through it! Congrats to Shane and to all involved in this mighty fight! To you I raise a glass (okay, tea cup!)! Cheers!

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  13. FIA Silver badge

    Joy removal 101

    This sounds like a tech lead I had at a previous job. When writing documentation I always try and be slightly humorous, usually in the opening introduction. My reasoning is if you're having to read boring work docuemtnation then starting with a smile will put you in a better frame of mind.

    I never do anything 'offensive' and would never compromise the documentation for the sake of being funny; it's a technique I've used for years when and has generally gone down well, for example we had a process that would occasionally fail on certain records, so I opened the 'How to fix this occasional issue' page with 'If, after looking behind the sofa and checking very hard behind the fridge you still can't find the data.......'

    The tech lead at the time didn't like it apparently, although he'd never mention it, or have the decency to raise it with me I would often find all trace of humour and individuality removed without any comment whatsoever. This made me a little sad. (Never quite understood people who think work should be fun free, it's where I spend most of my time ffs.)

    I did usually put the humour back though, often with slightly increased surrealism.

    1. annodomini2
      Thumb Up

      Re: Joy removal 101

      Same with training material, when required to use the dreaded presentation application (shall not be named).

      Try and drop in some humour at least every 3-4 slides, especially if you're training engineers, it attempts to stem the DBPP.

      Plus while snoring interrupting something complex that needs to be explained can be hilarious, starting all over again with complex material is not so controlled humour benefits all.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Joy removal 101

      Depends on what the manual is aimed at. While teaching, some humor is welcome. If it is a disaster recovery procedure, probably not so much, when you need clear instructions quickly.

  14. AdamWill


    (also, for you heathens who prefer dogs, )

  15. Bucky 2

    Millennials don't actually ruin everything. Once Baby Boomers have consumed and destroyed whatever was in their path, they just often happen to be next on the scene.

    At that point the Baby Boomers wipe the blood from their fangs and say, "Look what you've done!"

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    And then there was sigmonster ...

    Ah yes, the old days when a little humour was always just a tap away ... I still keep these little oddities on my screen ... cookie monster

  17. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Has anyone implemented RFC 2324 or 7168

    I know some mad scandinavians managed IP over avian carriers, but has anyone actually tried HTCPCP or HTCPCP-TEA

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone implemented RFC 2324 or 7168

      "has anyone actually tried HTCPCP or HTCPCP-TEA"

      I suspect you'd end up with something that was almost, but not quite, completely unlike tea.

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