fear and loathing
= F =
1. [common] A good property or behavior (as
of a program). Whether it was intended or not is immaterial.
2. [common] An intended property or behavior (as of a program).
Whether it is good or not is immaterial (but if bad, it is also a
misfeature). 3. A surprising property or behavior; in
particular, one that is purposely inconsistent because it works
better that way -- such an inconsistency is therefore a
feature and not a bug. This kind of feature is sometimes
called a miswart; see that entry for a classic example. 4. A
property or behavior that is gratuitous or unnecessary, though
perhaps also impressive or cute. For example, one feature of
Common LISP's format function is the ability to print
numbers in two different Roman-numeral formats (see bells whistles and gongs). 5. A property or behavior that was put in to
help someone else but that happens to be in your way. 6. [common]
A bug that has been documented. To call something a feature
sometimes means the author of the program did not consider the
particular case, and that the program responded in a way that was
unexpected but not strictly incorrect. A standard joke is that a
bug can be turned into a feature simply by documenting it
(then theoretically no one can complain about it because it's in
the manual), or even by simply declaring it to be good. "That's
not a bug, that's a feature!" is a common catchphrase. See also
feetch feetch, creeping featurism, wart, green lightning.
The relationship among bugs, features, misfeatures, warts, and
miswarts might be clarified by the following hypothetical exchange
between two hackers on an airliner:
A: "This seat doesn't recline."
B: "That's not a bug, that's a feature. There is an emergency
exit door built around the window behind you, and the route has to
be kept clear."
A: "Oh. Then it's a misfeature; they should have increased the
spacing between rows here."
B: "Yes. But if they'd increased spacing in only one section it
would have been a wart -- they would've had to make
nonstandard-length ceiling panels to fit over the displaced
A: "A miswart, actually. If they increased spacing throughout
they'd lose several rows and a chunk out of the profit margin. So
unequal spacing would actually be the Right Thing."
`Undocumented feature' is a common, allegedly humorous euphemism
for a bug. There's a related joke that is sometimes referred
to as the "one-question geek test". You say to someone "I saw a
Volkswagen Beetle today with a vanity license plate that read
FEATURE". If he/she laughs, he/she is a geek.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.