Monday, January 15, 2007

Where Did I Go Wrong??

"FATAL ERROR": Where Did I Go Wrong and What Can I Do Now?

There is nothing more frustrating when Web surfing than to be stopped dead in your tracks by one of many error messages. Often cryptic in nature and downright scary in tone, messages such as "Error 404," "Unknown Host," "Your Client Does Not Have Permission to View This Site," and "This Program Has Performed an Illegal Action and Will Be Shut Down," can have a chilling effect.
Following are some tips for getting past, or better yet, avoiding these interruptions altogether.
The Web has no spellcheck.
Make sure that you've written "Amazon" not "Amizon." If you have copied a Web address, make sure that you've captured the entire URL (e.g., "" not "uwnyc.or"). If you accidentally include even tiny extraneous characters - like a number or a period used in a listing - your computer will inform you that there is no Web site named "". Nice try, but... Even intelligent guessing won't always lead you to the right answer. For example, how would one figure out that the Web address for Stan Hutton's wonderful "Guide to Nonprofit Charitable Organizations" is "". Think of the hours which might be wasted if you tried every possible permutation and combination. Instead, type what you know of the organizational name into a search engine like and scan the hits that it provides until you recognize the specific reference you're seeking. Then click on the link provided and consider bookmarking the site so you can easily locate it in the future.
What's in a name?
While one "Center" may choose "", another may use "". I have often been asked if a comprehensive or even up-to-date URL "yellow pages" or "white pages" exists and the answer is "no", on both counts. If all else fails, go back to the search engine approach. Which suffix will suffice? Not every organization that works with nonprofits is itself a nonprofit, and not every provider of goods and services is a business. If "" doesn't work, try "" - or vice versa. If you still get no satisfaction, try ".net" or possibly ".gov" before giving up. It's a long shot, but you never know.