I have forgotten a slang programming term. This thing is an intentional bug or a decoy feature used as a distraction. An example usage, "Hey Bob, QA is doing a review today. Put a $THING into the module so they actually have a problem to find".

This can be used negatively, to have a very obvious intentional flaw to discover as a distraction from a real problem.

This can also be used positively. Its like how you always let rescue dogs 'find' a victim when searching a disaster area. It can also be used to verify that a QA process is actually catching flaws.

What is the term I am looking for?

  • 4
    obDilbert: dilbert.com/strips/comic/2007-02-02 Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 19:17
  • 10
    I'd like to challenge the close votes. This is an answerable, not-subjective question. It deals with several points from the FAQ: "quality assurance", "developer testing", and "freelancing and business concerns".
    – Freiheit
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 14:42
  • 1
    There are similar practices in many fields and it serves a positive purpose: to validate that the process is working. This influences the interpretation of the real results. For example, pregnancy tests. They have two bars that indicate positive result. One result comes from a quality control sample, letting you know whether the device is sensitive to the hCG hormone. If the quality control bar doesn't appear, it indicates a problem with the device, invalidating the result. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 19:58
  • 2
    Voting to reopen based on this meta discussion: On the troubles of naming and terminology.
    – 8bittree
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 16:55

3 Answers 3


A Duck

From https://blog.codinghorror.com/new-programming-jargon/#5:

A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.


Actually in manufacturing (and quality assurance) there is something called a Red Rabbit Test (aka Red Herring) that refers to putting a known bad part into the machine or process and making sure it's detected.

Red Rabbit Test

used to check how long it takes to identify a defect. In this test, a red part is added to the mix and the time until it is discovered is identified.

Some automated machines have automatic cycles (typically once per shift) where it prompts the operator to load the "red rabbit" part and then it runs the cycle checking that the error detection and rejection logic work correctly.

  • 19
    This reminds me of a recent occurrence where an airport was testing its security procedures and did so by placing live explosives in a passenger's luggage. Unfortunately for all involved, it was not detected until the plane had made an (international) stopover -- so I wouldn't necessarily say this is a good practice to implement without numerous safeguards. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 17:35

Seems like my professors called it bebugging or fault seeding. The idea is that if you wanted to estimate the population of something like fish in a lake, you could catch some, tag and release them, give them time to assimilate randomly with the other fish, then estimate the population based on how many tagged fish you catch later.

This search link finds a page in a book by the late great Watts Humphrey where he talks about this technique.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.