Wikipedia:Wikimedia Foundation error
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The common "Wikimedia Foundation error" message (WFEM) is sometimes called a "server error" but might be caused by a recent change which a user made to a current page being shown. The message is a note that the webpage being processed for display could not be completely formatted within the time allowance. It almost never means that there is a large problem with a real file server at the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been reading the webpage.
Template limits cause WFE error[change source]
During 2009 into 2010, some very slow templates, when used many times per page, were causing a long time run, followed afterward by the Wikimedia Foundation Error box, such as this:
That message gives the impression that the file servers are "too busy" to respond, but if a user is running many templates, then trying later would give the same result. In some cases, a page must be modified to display faster (when using too many templates).
Since the reader's screen is completely overwritten by that message box, it is necessary for users to realize what page, which they were attempting to read, led to the Wikimedia Error screen. If the page causing the error is changed to use a faster template, then that WIKIMEDIA message page will no longer re-display. Note that a template does not need to be "large" in order for the WFEM error page to be displayed, but rather, a page that runs very slowly can be the cause. Typically, to be so slow, then an internal template somewhere down the line is being used hundreds of times on one page. For more, see: Help:Template or WP:Advanced template coding.