Way back when, I worked in the computer industry.  I started as a lowly mainframe operator, progressing through the ranks of programming, end-user support, systems analysis, project leadership and management, all the way to a directorship in a small information systems company.

I still remember many of the “insider’s jokes” we passed around.  I use one of them in conversation to this day, because it applies to so many situations (even outside the computer industry):

Idiot proof systems
Are no match
For system proof idiots

Very true, isn’t it?

You’ll therefore understand that when reader Mike S. sent me the link to an article at UMumble titled ‘New programming slang‘, I was delighted.  Many of the expressions used by programmers today are new to me, but I recognize most of the conditions they describe – and I laughed out loud at some of them!  Here are a few examples.

  • Smug Report:  A bug report submitted by a user who thinks he knows a lot more about the system’s design than he really does. Filled with irrelevant technical details and one or more suggestions (always wrong) about what he thinks is causing the problem and how we should fix it.
  • Drug Report:  This is a bug report so utterly incomprehensible that whoever submitted it must have been smoking crack. The lesser version is a chug report, where the submitter is thought [to] have had one too many.
  • Shrug Report:  This is a bug report with no error message or “how to reproduce” steps and only a vague description of the problem. Usually contains the phrase “doesn’t work.”
  • Refactoring:  The process of taking a well-designed piece of code and, through a series of small, reversible changes, making it completely unmaintainable by anyone except yourself.
  • Higgs-Bugson:  It is a hypothetical error, which existence is predicted on the basis of a small number (possibly) related to the log and vague anecdotal reports from the users, which is difficult to reproduce on the developer machine, because it is impossible to know whether it actually exists, and if there is something that caused it.  (For the derivation of the name, see here.)
  • Hindenbug:  It is an error that causes catastrophic data destruction.  (Name derivation:  see here.)
  • Hydra Code:  A code that cannot be fixed. One fix causes two new bugs.  It should be rewritten.  (Name derivation:  see here.)

There are many more at the link.  Great fun for geeks!



  1. Is it the Hindenbug because it smashes into the ground and bursts into flames or because it invites Hitler in?

  2. I would offer my own term: "Jimmy Hoffa code".

    It is so deeply buried in the foundation that you can't possibly remove it. And it is starting to stink.

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