Software phenonenon where bogus features are added intentionally?
February 9, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

When you intentionally add bogus features that are expected to be struck down, what is this called? The features are added to serve as a target for criticism and preserve the rest of the software.

I read somewhere about a software philosophy where people will criticize elements of the software in order to feel like they are making a contribution to the group, even if the software doesn't necessarily need changing. To counter this, programmers will add in bogus features that they know will be the target of criticism in order to preserve the rest of the software. I saw a Wikipedia page on this, but I can't remember what it is called. Can anyone help?
posted by WCF to Technology (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In design, I know there's an example of this that uses a duck. As in, you add a big obvious duck that the client can feel good about nixing.
posted by redsparkler at 2:09 PM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The philosophy is called "Parkinson's law of triviality", and the feature I've seen called "a duck".

On preview, what redsparkler said.
posted by zabuni at 2:11 PM on February 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've heard of a famous comic artist who used to draw the arms on his figures excessively hairy, just so his editor would have something to tell him to remove.
posted by gerryblog at 3:10 PM on February 9, 2013

We do this with our nitpicky boss. He ALWAYS has to have the last word. So - we purposely use a different font in the document footer/ don't align a table heading / use US spelling. He always picks it up and feels good about it - and leaves the content of the document unchanged - thankfully.
posted by mattoxic at 3:24 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

The story of the hairy arm.
posted by mumkin at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2013

Not software but a designer once told me to "always add a 'hairy dog'" so a customer would have something to remove. Occasionally they fall in love with the dog which makes for tricky conversations...
posted by sammyo at 4:23 PM on February 9, 2013

Where I work, developers call it a kangaroo. Ponies are good and useful, kangaroos are... not so much. Managers can't really tell the difference, but the users can even if they don't get a vote. So, kangaroos save the ponies.
posted by vers at 5:05 PM on February 9, 2013

Sacrificial anode.
posted by plinth at 6:27 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

In the building trades some project managers intentionally leave something glaringly crooked so that the customer has something to call out on the deficiency walk through. They will always pick out a couple deficiencies, might as well make them things that are not bolted down.

After noting one or two most people are satisfied and move on.
posted by vonliebig at 2:14 PM on November 7, 2013

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