What Does Rathole Mean?

A “rathole,” as the term is most commonly used in computer and internet slang, means an ongoing or recursive conversation, function or process that does not lead to a conclusion or resolution. This can be used in programming, or it can be used in discussions about technology.


Techopedia Explains Rathole

One of the most general definitions of a rathole is a conversation where there seems to be no concrete end. This conversation can happen over digital media, such as internet forums, text messaging groups, or social media threads. For example, someone might label a Facebook thread with over 100 comments a “rathole” because none of the participants seem to be building a consensus or agreement. The idea is that these conversations can go on forever and become a waste of energy or resources.

In addition, programmers might talk about ratholes as functions that do not end up efficiently completing a task, but take up resources and run endlessly on a loop. This is not as popular a definition, but it is the kind of scenario to which the phrase “rathole” could be applied.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…