Useful terminat-ology

Image from
Image from Black Flag website.

Sometimes there’s very useful terminology in one field, or culture, which allows clearer or more succinct explanation of concepts in another. In the UK we don’t have Roach Motels. There are doubtless similar products, but they don’t have such a snappy name, or one which can be repurposed so easily.

Reading about DRM, file format incompatability and lock-in, I’d come across the term a number of times without necessarily thinking through exactly what it meant when used in this way, not being familiar with the actual product. “You can check data in but you can’t check it out” (possibly in conjunction with some kind of superficially attractive bait) is a good explanation, derived from the actual slogan used on the front of the box. I’m assuming (possibly wrongly) that ‘roach motel’ isn’t especially familiar to most UK readers – do we have an equivalently neat alternative term? Are there equivalents in other languages?


  1. Dan

    Thanks. I wonder how the principle of ‘you need to push your fingers in further in order to get them out’ could be applied to data and control?

  2. 1) Sometimes if you find yourself on a promotional mailing list, the unsubscribe link requires you to register with the promoter’s site in order to ‘adjust your mailing preferences’.

    2) (Even worse) Ecademy once adjusted the facilities available to its guest membership. It turned out that in order to adjust your membership of previously free clubs you had to pay to upgrade your account to restore access to the respective administrative facilities (in order to leave gracefully).

    3) Sometimes it’s better to push your hand further in a vicious dog’s mouth (so the dog releases voluntarily) than simply to pull away.

    4) There must be IT admin processes that once commenced have to be completed and cannot be abandoned?

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