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November 30, 2004 12:40 AM

Broken: definition

MachoKathleen Leonardo writes:

I was looking at a definition for "machismo" at I clicked the link to the root word "macho", and I was sent to an unusual definition of "macho" (shown in the screenshot): it's the acronym for Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Object.

Btw, back on the "machismo" page, when I looked at the previous and next definitions, I saw the more common usage: macho, as in male.


Yeas, seems like their - presumably automatic - root link method could be improved...

BTW, since you already found MACHOs, why not look for WIMPs too? :)

Posted by: Andreas at November 30, 2004 03:52 AM

They have it linked to the wrong "macho." A search for "macho" produces the expected result first and the acronym second. This appears to be a minor editorial mistake. Not any more "broken" than a mislabeled photo in the newspaper.

Posted by: Jay at November 30, 2004 08:58 AM

Um, Jay...A mislabeled photo in the newspaper IS broken.

Is anyone else getting annoyed with all of the "That's not really broken" comments? The point is not to raise just the earth-shattering mistakes, but the ones that make you think, "there's GOT to be some better way to do this."

Posted by: n8 at November 30, 2004 12:45 PM

n8: there is also a fact of reality that maybe this is the best way. "the best" taking into account expense, time, materials, resources and the distributions of each.

so for this company, they got those programmers, had those meetings etc... all the "better" people, all the "better" ideas were off doing other things thus making them much worse then those in the said positions.

so, is the goal to find the absolute, (devoid of resources), best? or possibly can there be a compromise between small errors like this...which we all make and true design/interface problems that thwart the user? from the description above, it doesn't sound like they were thwarted..just ran into an annoying mistake.

Posted by: bob at November 30, 2004 05:32 PM

So that's what it stands for...

Posted by: anykey at November 30, 2004 09:03 PM

"The point is not to raise just the earth-shattering mistakes, but the ones that make you think, "there's GOT to be some better way to do this."

Not for me. I want interesting reading. A post that amounts to "A website had an error" is a dog-bites-man story. Pointing out how a set of doors' design makes it hard to figure out which one to open, or how particular public washroom taps cause the counter to always be covered in water, or how an obvious attempt at usability engineering backfired outright -- *that's* man-bites-dog, the sort of stuff that will get people coming back to read more.

As a comparison, on a workplace-hazards website, pictures of forklifts lifting forklifts lifting forklifts lifting pallets get me coming back. Pictures of improvised ladders that you know will collapse a minute after the picture was taken get me coming back. Pictures of a pickup truck flattened by a huge dump truck get me coming back. Pictures of a cabinetmaker not wearing safety goggles at the lathe won't get me coming back. Wearing safety goggles are probably a bigger safety concern than forklift-stacking, but they're not interesting *stories*.

Posted by: mendel at December 1, 2004 12:04 AM

As someone who often chimes in "not broken!", I want to comment.

I don't this debate is merely a question of scale, ie small=mistake, boring, and big=broken, interesting. There is a fundamental difference between a "mistake" and a "broken design".

A "mistake" is just an earnest attempt gone awry . If a journalist misquotes you in a paper, but they meant to quote you correctly, that is a mistake. We all make mistakes, it's okay. Everybody, time for a group hug.

But a "broken design" is something entirely different---in fact, I would not even call it a BIG mistake. In these cases it's the *process* or the *mechanism* which causes the failure, not just a human who tripped up after a long day at work.

I agree with Jay, the human who associated "machismo" with "MACHO" just made a small mistake.

But obviously, the editorial review process by which these things get certified is BROKEN, because either no one followed up on the work of this not-so-macho employee, or the review was too cursory to detect this problem.

However, we can't see this broken process, even though we can imply it exists, so this is just a mistake to the end user. No more than we can see how the copy editor double-check photo captions, so mistakes in the paper are just mistakes.

Anyone else interested in this philosophical conversation about what it means to be "broken"?

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at December 1, 2004 06:48 AM

I posted it not because it was a huge error, but because "Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Object Man" was such a huge hit in the 70s.

Posted by: Mark Hurst at December 1, 2004 09:12 AM

I'll join the "what is broken" debate; personally I've been hoping someone would get this going for months.

I must agree with mendel. I come to this site to be ENTERTAINED. And a typo of sorts isn't very interesting, beacuse you can find one in this sentence.

But to play devil's advocate, that isn't the purpose of this site. While the peoples' entertainment is a bonus, the original purpose was to show businesses mistakes they make, for example Olive Garden and their oh-so-stupid sugar packets.

So I guess it's subjective, is Thisisbroken for people's entertainment, and should we censor the more boring posts, or is Thisisbroken for the practicality of people making these blunders? And where do we draw the line as to what is posted and what is rejected as every-day mistakes/brokenness?

Posted by: never mind that at December 2, 2004 08:36 PM

I want to see things that truly are broken--that is, they truly hurt my customer experience. I submitted a story about getting banned from ezBoard just because I posted the exact same post twice on two different boards. It's still not here, but this and other examples of things that aren't broken, just incorrect, made it in?

While it does hurt your experience slightly to get a meaningless definition, that hardly compares to being banned from your own discussion board without explanation. Entertainment is one benefit of this site, but there are a lot of things that are more entertaining than this website. The focus of this site is to point out things that are BROKEN, not just wrong.

Posted by: Jay at December 7, 2004 06:25 AM

I'm with n8, but for a very specific reason. Yes, some of the stuff that is posted here is relatively minor - but it also seems that there is somebody ready to jump in and say "not broken!" on just about every single post. They usually have some elaborate reasoning to explain why the thing isn't "really" broken (or only broken in a minor way).

And folks - that's EXACTLY why so many things are broken, especially in software: whenever somebody points out the design flaw, somebody else - usually a programmer or engineer - speaks out to explain why it isn't "really" broken. A really good engineer can find a plausible sounding explanation for just about ANYTHING - and that, my friends, is half of the reason why our lives are awash in crappy design, bad packaging, misleading signs, etc. etc.

Let's stop excusing the inexcusable just because its only a little bit broken, or because there's worse out there.

Now I want everybody to stick their heads out their windows and shout with me: "I'M MAD AS HELL - AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!"

Posted by: Carl at December 7, 2004 05:51 PM

I consider it broken. I will have it fixed. thanks folks.

Posted by: mjm at December 9, 2004 10:11 AM

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