Microsoft's helpful error message



  • I am working on integrating Moodle with Office 365. I installed all the 12 plugins as per the documentation, have the Windows admin setup everything in Azure Active Directory, etc....

    Everything looks fine from the management console, credentials are setup, AzureAD Tenant, application permission, whatever, all is OK.

    So I go in a course and try to add a document from OneNote, I get a button telling me to login to Office365. I click it and a popup open

    So, it looks like Microsoft is having some problems. Ok, I will try again later.

    I go grab another coffee, come back 30 minutes later to try again and... same thing.

    I know Microsoft's services are not the most reliable on the planet but we are not a leap year after all :wink:
    So I look a bit further. I copy the URL of the error popup and paste it in a text editor.

    https://login.live.com/err.srf?lc=2057#error=invalid_request&error_description=The+provided+request+must+include+a+'client_id'+input+parameter.&state=/local/msaccount/msaccount_redirect.php

    Wow, so that freakin popup is telling me that they are experiencing technical problems, but in fact the request is not valid, it is missing some parameter (client_id), and they even pass the error in the URL, but then the popup just hide it from you !

    Try again later indeed, but you'll get the same error since YOUR REQUEST IS NOT VALID

    Why, oh why not put the $%^& error message in the popup

    And before @blakeyrat say that it's normal since it is a POS OpenSource product coded in PHP that is making the request, I will just leave the copyright of the plugins here :

    @copyright Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.



  • @TimeBandit said:

    And before @blakeyrat say that it's normal since it is a POS OpenSource product coded in PHP that is making the request, I will just leave the copyright of the plugins here :

    @copyright Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

    But it is open source and written in PHP. See, that's what happens when you go open source. :trolleybus:



  • If MS expects to be able to handle any request, regardless of errors like missing data, by simply using a crystal ball to divine your intent...

    then yes, they are experiencing technical difficulties.



  • Nah, this is just Microsoft. My all time favorite message from a product of theirs was from Outlook:

    "The action failed to complete. The action failed to complete."

    See, the great thing about that message, is it would work for your problem, too. You try to sign in: "The action failed to complete." And why would that be? Well, because, "The action failed to complete." Now you know everything you ever need to know...almost.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @TimeBandit said:

    Wow, so that freakin popup is telling me that they are experiencing technical problems, but in fact the request is not valid, it is missing some parameter (client_id), and they even pass the error in the URL, but then the popup just hide it from you !

    That's one of the things I like least about how Microsoft systems operate. Got a problem? Too bad, we'll just give you an uninformative — or even, as in this case, outright hinderingly wrong — generic message rather than letting you know what you did wrong (even if hidden inside a “details” section) so that you might have some idea about what to do to fix it.



  • And tell you to contact your system administrator with the error details?



  • https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/library/windows/desktop/dn742471.aspx:

    Well-written, helpful error messages are crucial to a quality user experience. Poorly written error messages result in low product satisfaction, and are a leading cause of avoidable technical support costs.
    Interesting to see that they give a good many examples of the wrong way to do it, yet whoever wrote the error message that started this, doesn’t seem to have looked at them.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @PleegWat said:

    And tell you to contact your system administrator with the error details?

    When you are the system administrator? Yes. :rage:



  • Exactly. So you can go I AM the administrator. Now where are my error detals?



  • That bugged me since about Windows 95 … Who the hell do you want me to contact about this error on my computer here at home that I bought, built, and installed myself?!



  • It's basically an excuse to avoid having to give you any more details.



  • I doubt it was a deliberate design choice. More likely they just borked a 500 handler.



  • I’ll quote again from the page I linked to:

    Completely useless error messages Incorrect: Users learn that there was an error, but have no idea what the error was or what to do about it. And no, it's not OK! The problem: The error message doesn't give a specific problem and there is nothing users can do about it. Leading cause: Most likely, the program has poor error handling. Recommended alternative: Design good error handling into the program.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Gurth said:

    Who the hell do you want me to contact about this error on my computer here at home that I bought, built, and installed myself?!

    You can look in the system log. Chances are that you'll find out that it was an unknown Application Error without any intelligible further details. Gee, thanks!



  • Well, that's when you set up procdump, reproduce the error, and whip out WinDbg.


  • area_deu

    As seen on Discourse when trying to go to a thread you don't have access to ...
    (Or did that get changed recently?)




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