Definition:Bozo Bit

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Early verions of Apple's Macintosh Operating System employed a technique of file copy protection which used the setting of a bit in the information record of their "Finder" file manager to determine whether or not the file was able to be copied.

Such a system of copy protection is so ludicrously easy to circumvent and subvert, that this copy flag became known as the bozo bit, because even a bozo could crack it (or because only a bozo would have implemented something so ineffective).


The concept of bozo bit was adopted by the computer industry in the following manner.

The typical stereotype of a worker in the computer software industry is that he (usually male) is limited in his ability to interact skilfully with his colleagues.

In a team of people, there are bound to be clashes of personality. During the course of interactions with one of your colleagues, one of them sticks in your mind for making unhelpful suggestions, or crafting inept designs, or otherwise demonstrating a modicum of stupidity that is likely to become a hindrance to the task in progress.

What can happen is for a team leader, or someone else whose input is influential, to register this person as a bozo, and prejudge every contribution of that person to be worthless. When the bozo is speaking, the listener mentally tunes out the sound of his voice and is instead thinking of something completely different.

Such behaviour is known as flipping the bozo bit on that person.


In the context of $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$, a similar dynamic can arise.

A contributor's bozo bit can be set by the manifestation of certain behaviours which include (but may not be exclusive to) the following:

  • Failing to adhere to house style, even when particular points have been explained repeatedly.
  • Deleting a perfectly adequate proof so as to replace it with a different one, after having had it explained repeatedly that the proper procedure is to add it as a second proof.
  • Otherwise making major changes without either consulting other contributors on the relevant talk page or thinking of the consequences, thereby breaking a lot of links and necessitating a lot of rework.
  • There are more - they can be added as and when they come to the attention of contributors.

It is assumed (perhaps optimistically) that, as contributors to this site are at least interested in mathematics, they will be mentally sharp, alert, quick to learn and able to self-teach by use of initiative. So failing to pick up on basic community conventions is likely to mark you as a bozo. The upshot is that all your future contributions will fail to be taken seriously.

If it is believed that a contributor has flipped your bozo bit, feel free to challenge that contributor by posting a message to their user talk page:

"Oy! Sunshine! Un-flip my bozo bit!"

... using whichever vernacular you are partial to.

Similarly, if someone persists in showing bozo behaviour, feel equally free to let that person know, again by posting to their user talk page:

"You are acting in a way as to get your bozo bit set."

If you receive this message, you may want to re-evaluate your techniques of contribution according to the above list.