Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Futile investment of time and energy in marginal technical issues.
  • n. Procrastination.

Etymologies

bikeshed +‎ -ing. The word originates in Berkeley Software Distribution culture and implies technical disputes over minor, marginal issues conducted while more serious ones are being overlooked. The implied image is of people arguing over what color to paint the bicycle shed while the house is not finished. The word has its origins in Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We are basically the steering committee that makes decisions on release schedules and other project management issues - the things that cannot be effectively done by the community at large without running into security, privacy or 'bikeshedding' issues.

    Techworld.com News

  • A simple “been there – done that – it was an incredibly stupid idea” can save everyone from quite some headache and bikeshedding.

    life at the end of the universe » 2009 » November

  • Development moved slowly because endless bikeshedding impaired efforts to reconcile technical differences between the disparate Nokia and Intel software components.

    Ars Technica

  • Among the pitfalls he mentions are undirected and inconclusive discussions about detail (including bikeshedding and resource fetishism -- look those terms up if you need to).

    disruptive.org.uk

  • But I'm sure that I could find huge bikeshedding threads on fedora-devel about this if I really cared why this was decided.

    Planet Python

  • The parallel with Microsoft users vs. Java users seems to be all too obvious: Microsoft as the strict father: If you are loyal you will be rewarded, but if you stray you will be punished; whereas in the Java (or Python) community benefits and moral goodness flow from helping each other (which includes sharing open source software, and, apparently, bikeshedding: -).

    Planet Python

  • We had bikeshedding galore … confusion everywhere … I'm pretty sure I contrubuted to the confusion even when I was trying to reduce it.

    Planet KDE

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Hmm. Guess I didn't grow up in a bike shed area. We always conducted that sort of business behind the local bakery.

    June 28, 2011

  • Every school had bike sheds back in the day. Behind the bike sheds was the scene of illicit activities like smoking, fighting and smooching. I've never heard of a house with a "bike shed" though - at home I use the back yard for those activities.

    June 27, 2011

  • I never even heard of a shed specifically for bicycles until I saw this word.

    June 26, 2011

  • Is it related to yakshaving or featherbedding? Is it about a bicycle?

    June 26, 2011

  • You bet. Looks like a Wiktionary definition just arrived on this page, too.

    June 26, 2011

  • Great! Thanks.

    June 26, 2011

  • Urban Dictionary says that it refers to "Technical disputes over minor, marginal issues conducted while more serious ones are being overlooked. The implied image is of people arguing over what color to paint the bicycle shed while the house is not finished."

    June 25, 2011

  • Saw this one floating by on the main page. Can anyone explain it?

    June 25, 2011