You don’t see it quite as often nowdays, but Twitter’s Fail Whale, its personalised 404 error page, used to be quite a regular on the network.
But how did such a creature come to be?
Over on Quora, the creator of the Fail Whale, Yiying Lu (@YiyingLu) has revealed how the inspiration for her design was based on an original piece entitled Lifting A Dreamer, which Lu used for an e-greeting card for a friend.
And it featured an elephant.
In 2006, Lu, studying overseas, changed the lead animal to a whale, since she was currently residing in New South ‘Wales’.
When Lu placed the image on iStockphoto, Twitter stumbled upon it and snapped it up, replacing their current 404 page, which believe it or not was an LOLcat.
The finally piece of the puzzle came together in May, 2008, when Twitter user Nick Quaranto (@qrush), perhaps frustrated at that dark time in Twitter’s history when it felt like the site was down as often as it was up, tapped into the zeitgeist and proposed a name that stuck.
And with this, a legend was born. Yet, with its increasingly fleeting appearances, some now say that it never existed. That it was simply an urban legand. A myth. And that we made it all up.
But those of us old enough to remember know the truth. And we hope and we pray that, much as we admire the artwork, the Fail Whale is, for the most part, gone for good. Rest ye well, old fella, rest ye well.