The Evolution of Fail Pets Part 2

In November last year UX Magazine published my article on The Evolution of Fail Pets such as Twitter’s Fail Whale.

Fred Wenzel, a Mozilla employee who I found to have coined the term (and has a gallery of Fail Pets), read the piece recently and picked up an error that I had made.

I attributed the cute “sad brick” (below) that appears when Flash crashes in Firefox to Adobe.


However, as Fred says, that was a misattribution:

Attentive readers may also notice that Mozilla’s strategy of (rightly) attributing Adobe Flash’s crashes with Flash itself by putting a “sad brick” in place worked formidably: Rintel (just like most users, I am sure) assumes this message comes from Adobe, not Mozilla.

As this image of an Adobe Flash plugin crash in Chrome shows, browser developers choose how to display errors for plugins. Google has gone with the more traditional puzzle-piece.


I should have noted that although the Firefox error message states that the Adobe Flash plugin had crashed, there was no Adobe logo on the error page, which would have been likely if it was an Adobe-designed error.

So, Mozilla is deliberately attributing failure to the company, but has chosen its own whimsical way of doing so. In my article, I call the “sad brick” as well as Google’s “sad puzzle piece”  an evolution of the original Fail Pet idea because instead of an attributable brand mascot (such as the Fail Whale), this does a more generic sad face. Beyond Mozilla and Google, many other companies are jumping on this low-key and less brand attributable whimsy: Microsoft’s new BSOD emoticon and Apple’s sad iCloud especially.

Source: uxmagazine
Source: uxmagazine

Read the full original article @

Rintel, S. (2011, November 2). The Evolution of Fail Pets: Strategic Whimsy and Brand Awareness in Error MessagesUX Magazine.

These ideas were also followed up by The Voice Project: Why error messages matter – and why not everyone thinks they are funny.