Whack-A-Mole

What Does Whack-A-Mole Mean?

IT professionals and others might use the term “whack-a-mole” to describe a process where a pervasive problem keeps recurring after it is supposedly fixed, or any situation where some type of undesirable outcome is recurring. This term is based on a metaphor where an arcade game called Whac-A-Mole invites players to hit a series of pop-up animals with a mallet.

Advertisements

Techopedia Explains Whack-A-Mole

In IT, examples of whack-a-mole would include labor-intensive processes like continually deleting spammers’ accounts, only to see new accounts proliferate, or cleaning viruses and malware off of computers, only to see them become re-infected. Another good example is a user trying to close a series of pop-up windows that keep popping up in a Web browser. Whether or not this turns into a game of whack-a-mole involves the intensity and aggression of pop-up design — in some cases, it is as easy as clicking out of two or three pop-up screens, but more aggressive pop-up designs require users to keep clicking, closing windows as new ones pop up.

Where whack-a-mole might be involved in an end-user process like closing pop-ups, it is probably more often discussed in more intensive research and maintenance efforts. For example, network administrators might talk about playing whack-a-mole and closing security loopholes or doing other administrative work to secure a network.

Advertisements

Related Terms

Margaret Rouse

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.