The current 404 page is very plain. I know there was a question for a better 404 page: Ideas for 404/error/captcha pages, take 2. However, it was not implemented in the end. Maybe, it was forgotten, or something.

Should we try to have a better 404 page? Some suggestions:

If it was removed by the author

enter image description here

The author was non-zero so this Loperator aninhilated his stated post.

enter image description here

The author became a covariant derivative has killed his metric post.

enter image description here

If it was deleted by moderators.

The page was killed to ensure that the site is free of torsion.

enter image description here

Sorry! D' Alembert has killed the page, perhaps because it was in a massless state.

Do you think this is a good idea?

P.S. I know "State" isn't accurate in (4), but it is kind of boring to say "The page was in a massless field".

Or... we could put text saying "LQG", since LQG is ill-defined ? : )

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    $\begingroup$ Not too sure about these. I like the general idea, but they some of them seem a bit too cryptic. I'd prefer a physics joke that's understood by a wider audience (Annihilation operator? Black holes? Simple particle-antiparticle annihilation Feynman diagram?) $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2013 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ (also, note that the text of the 404 probably can't be changed, and there's only one 404 image) $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2013 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth: Are you sure? Math.SE could do it: math.stackexchange.com/donkey. $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2013 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, they have the same image for all types of deleted posts. $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2013 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth: Oh, so you mean that there can be only 1 image. I thought you meant that the image must be "404". $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2013 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ I'm unsure that a physics joke can compete on elegance and simplicity with math.se's image. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2013 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ I quite liked this ... :-D. But it was never implemented ... :-/ $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Jul 18, 2013 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


I agree that the current 404 page is relatively boring, but I quite dislike the idea of having a formula, and particularly one with such localized meanings as those. The reason for my dislike is that it can only ever speak to a very narrow population, and it will bug other physicists and alienate non-physicist visitors.

Moreover, as was mentioned in the comments, it is by default not possible, and should not be something to aim for, to have different error pages depending on what happened to the post. The point of the 404 page is that it's what you get when the page isn't there, i.e. when you've put in a corrupted address, and this should be the main thrust of the design.

That said, the system does provide a custom page when the page exists but has been deleted; indeed it will go as far as giving you the question title even if you ask only by numeric ID: physics.se:99313. This page does distinguish between questions "removed for reasons of moderation" (automatic and moderator deletions) and posts removed by their author (e.g. this one). However, this should be seen as a secondary feature; altering the design only adds stigma to deletions. I'm not even sure that it can be done; finding deleted posts is nigh-impossible, by design, unless you're 10k+ on that site.

Regarding the design, here are some interesting ones from across the network to see if anyone comes up with ideas:

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    $\begingroup$ Haha, some of them are really great! (For PhysicsSE I see no problem in representing 404 with something more complicated, but I agree it should be more general than something stringly. And a picture can be more fun than a formula.) $\endgroup$
    – Nikolaj-K
    Feb 26, 2014 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @NikolajK.: Out of the suggestions I wrote in the question, only 1 is stringy. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2014 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Dimensio1n0 yes, and none is non-relativistic. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2014 at 18:21

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