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Someone recently asked a question about the difference between two English words: What's the difference between “Bug” and “Glitch”?

Although these terms are sometimes used in gaming, it really seems more like an English question. As a user with a few hundred rep on English SE, I think it would be on-topic there, and most if not all of the answers would make sense there as well.

At the time of writing this, the question is closed as opinion-based, which seems a bit silly to me. These are words with definitions, and you can answer the question objectively. I have an answer that includes some definitions, myself.

I suggest we migrate this one. If not, then at least reopen it.

  • Question was downvoted (and then upvoted). – TOOGAM Feb 27 '16 at 1:27
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    It's a question about terminology used in gaming. It can stay here. We have a tag for it and everything. – Sterno Feb 27 '16 at 1:53
  • @Sterno I honestly think it's acceptable here, but that it would be better on English SE. Since it's been closed (almost reopened now) here, it seemed like maybe it wasn't going to work out on Arqade. If it gets opened again, that's fine with me, although I think it would probably get better answers over there. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 1:54
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    Related Meta: What should we do with questions that could also be answered well by other sites?. TLDR: We migrate questions that don't belong on our site, not questions that might fit better elsewhere. So I can see the case if this ends up closed again and staying closed. Otherwise, it's a non-issue. – Sterno Feb 27 '16 at 2:14
  • @Sterno Sounds good to me. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 2:27
  • Just saying, bad touch screen interface registered my downvote as an upvpte. I'm not sure if a mod can correct this but.. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:51
  • @DCShannon If anything you'd migrate it to Poweruser or any Developer's.SE, not English – Oak Feb 27 '16 at 18:59
  • @Oak The asker could've been clearer about the context. I interpreted it as asking for vernacular, not some jargon specific to developing. – DCShannon Feb 29 '16 at 14:14
  • Bug wouldn't make sense in Arqade if it wasn't related to development, especially if it's to be compared with glitch. While a bug is an insect, it has that name in other contexts because of what (insects/bugs) did to people/machines ("bugged me" / "bug in the card" card being the punchholes that were used in early computers) – Oak Feb 29 '16 at 17:09
  • @Oak Gamers use the terms 'bug' and 'glitch' to refer to problems experienced while playing games. They don't need to know anything about development to use the terms, and certainly don't need to be familiar with jargon used by developers. Without further qualifying information, I would assume the asker simply wants to know what gamers mean by these terms, since they're asking gamers. – DCShannon Feb 29 '16 at 17:49
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    But the thing is 'gamers' is a group of not necessarly the most rigorous people. Meaning, they're not going to be very accurate in their description, nor what they perceive as correct. Rarely Official Representatives from games misuse the terms, yet players do it all the time. That's why I feel it should be on Arqade, but if it were to be migrated it should be to a technology .SE ; With that said, just read the answers to that question and notice how the least technical are the most upvoted – Oak Feb 29 '16 at 18:37
  • @Timelord64 - I just edited, try now :) – Robotnik Mar 1 '16 at 23:23
  • @Oak Again, I think you're reading more into the question than is there. Perhaps it isn't clear enough. It is pretty short after all. If the asker wants to know what gamers mean by those terms, then whatever gamers mean by it is correct, regardless of what might be the "correct" "official" meaning among developers. If you ask me what color I think the sky is, and I think it's green, then "green" is the correct answer to the question, even if everyone else thinks it's blue. – DCShannon Mar 2 '16 at 16:43
  • But in that case it would be too broad as different player bases have different definitions to what a bug and a glitch are. Usually in MOBAS the term glitch isn't used at all, except for display errors (due to the user's hardware), however the term 'glitch' is extremely common with FPS users, but bug isn't used at all. This is at least frmo what I've experienced with those genres – Oak Mar 2 '16 at 16:50
  • @Oak It's not really that broad, though. Those definitions aren't unrelated, they are very similar, so a good answer can still cover what's in common, and mention specific examples if needed. Bug is definitely used by FPS users. I'm an FPS user, I talk about bugs. The important thing isn't covering all the various ideas each individual has about the words. That's broad, and that's opinion-based. The common definition is not broad, and is not opinion-based, so that's what needs to be in an answer. – DCShannon Mar 2 '16 at 17:11
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Please don't. The question itself is off-topic on English Language and Usage (ELU) because of the following reasons:

  1. There is no research the OP has done. "What is the difference between the two words?" is not workable on ELU. The Original Poster (OP) should show us his/her own research efforts and context where s(he) heard or read the two words.

How do I ask a good question?:

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

  1. We have a similar question, Is there any word for the opposite of a “bug” in programming?. We don't even know where the OP heard the two words.

ELU doesn't welcome any question without the OP's own research efforts and proper context. I think it would be better for your community to judge whether to close it or leave it open.

  • You're right, that question would need more research before it would definitely not get closed on English. It could use some more research here too, really. – DCShannon Feb 29 '16 at 14:13
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English SE will just answer based on the etymology of the words. OP is asking for the meaning given the gaming context. The question needs that context. If it really needs to be moved, Game Development SE would be preferable I believe.

In any case I don't think moving it will improve the answer's quality. As it is right now, it does sound a lot like opinion based. I think it should stay here but it should be reworded.

  • Upon moving to English SE, it would be trivial to throw in a note indicating that the context which most interests the asker is video game software. I think it may appear opinion-based to this community because it is a word. On the other hand the community at English SE has experience providing objective answers to questions about words. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 1:33
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    @DCShannon Of course, but then that context falls into this site area of expertise. English SE area of expertise is hard definitions, etymology and everything related to the English language itself. – Zerjack Feb 27 '16 at 1:36
  • The area of expertise you described is exactly what's needed to answer the question in an objective fashion. If the subject matter of the words being discussed was a deciding factor, then the only words discussed on English SE would be words about English. Clearly, this is not the case. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 1:38
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    @DCShannon Yeah it is not. The thing is, as it is right now OP is looking for that bit of subjectivity. I do know that English SE is quite objective, but from a definition standpoint the question itself is trivial. The gaming context is what gives the question its life. – Zerjack Feb 27 '16 at 1:55
  • I'm not sure what about the question statement makes it seem like they're looking for subjectivity. I did add a section to my answer focused on games in particular after reactions here on meta, though. I would have written the exact same answer on English. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 2:03
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I'm still not sure how the question qualifies as anything but opinion-based.

There are definitions for the individual words, of course. But the definitions are practically identical. And the question isn't about the definition of either word; it's about the difference in meaning between the words. Objectively, we can see there is no clear distinction between them, because they both have the same basic meaning, and any nuanced difference is subjective. Both terms originally referred to some temporary malfunction in a system caused by outside influences, so you can't even get much help from etymology.

There are certainly a number of forum threads and comments and answers in the linked question where people have defined a difference, but there are also plenty of counter examples and people stating "umm, I've always reversed those two definitions" and a lot of people stating they're really the same thing.

On the one hand, I can see the logic "well, how would we know the answer is subjective unless we took an objective look at it?". On the other hand, it's obvious the answer is subjective, so why wouldn't we close it as opinion-based? I suppose the question could be re-worded to something like "Is there a universally understood difference between glitch and bug?" so we can objectively say "no".

If we migrate it to English.SE, they probably wouldn't close it as opinion-based, since a good deal of their questions are opinion-based, but I highly doubt you'll get any better answers than those already given. The best of which is your own answer showing there is no answer.

Of course, at the end of the day, it's not really a big deal whatever happens. There are certainly tons of bad questions with bad answers that were highly upvoted and selected as best despite being utterly wrong. One question whose answers clearly demonstrate the differences of opinion about the subject doesn't seem that bad.

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    I still can't understand the assertion that it's opinion-based. You pretty much lay out my whole case for that not being the case right in this answer. There are definitions, and they're about the same, so as you say "objectively, we can see there is no clear distinction between them". Okay, cool, objectively answered. Downvote the opinion-based answers that don't say this. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 4:38
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    @DCShannon: There's no clear distinction. But clearly, there is a distinction. The problem is the distinction is entirely subjective. The answer isn't "there's no difference". The answer is "the difference changes depending on who you ask", which is pretty much the definition of an opinion-based question. – MichaelS Feb 27 '16 at 4:44
  • But those people giving different definitions are just giving opinions, so it doesn't matter what they say. It would only matter if there was some corroboration or consensus, which could be objectively documented. I've said this a few times, and I'm sure I'll say it more: the fact that someone can express an opinion regarding something doesn't make it opinion-based. What would make it opinion based is if the only thing you could say about it are opinions. Since this is not the case, and we do have objective definitions, it is very possible to give an objective answer. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 4:48
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    @DCShannon: We don't have an objective definition of the difference between the two words. But we can't just say the two words are synonymous in all cases, because they clearly aren't. What makes something opinion-based is if the "right" answer is subjective, not whether objective conversation can be constructed about the subject. Because there's no standard or convention on this topic, there's no good way to construct an argument for whose opinion is "right", making the selection of a correct answer opinion-based. – MichaelS Feb 27 '16 at 5:02
  • But we do have an objective definition of the difference between the words: essentially none. That's the right answer, and it's objective. I think we're talking in circles here. – DCShannon Feb 27 '16 at 5:26
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    That's not an objective answer. That's your opinion, that there's no difference between them. Obviously, others disagree, and that's why it's opinionated. – Frank Feb 27 '16 at 16:03
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    I disagree it is opinuated for one simply reason. The exact same question is a popular question in any game developer test. If you disagree, without knowledge of game dev or programming, I stringly suggest you accept this might be because you are a layman – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:43
  • Normally I would push for this to be transfered to Game.Dev.SE, but I find most gamers do throw around the terms freely, through ignorance. Online guides tend to use the terms appropriately, and understanding the difference allows easier understanding. Including on here. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:47
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Yes. As someone who dabbled with the English sites (English, and maybe English Language Learners), I agree it would be appropriate. I myself thought of adding an answer with some technical/historical context, but the question was put on hold (so I couldn't add a new answer). And the question did get a flurry of answers on the gaming site (Question on Arqade).

  • Thanks for the upvotes, people. However, I am withdrawing this answer as a comment, for now, since Zerjack's interpretation of English SE (in his answer, and possibly those comments) indicate that moving to English might not be the best option. – TOOGAM Feb 27 '16 at 6:23
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    Your not withdrawing the answer if it's not deleted. Just saying – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:41
  • @Timelord64 Deleting an answer may be more likely to cause confusion if someone read the info, and re-visits the page, and then can't seem to find what they thought was said earlier Also, deleting an answer is effectively hiding information, and I don't feel like I should try to conceal the fact that I said that earlier. I leave the record (of what I said before) unedited, remaining for historical context. What I am doing (by "withdrawing this answer as a comment") is stating that I no longer actively have the same stance, so I've withdrawn from having the same position. – TOOGAM Feb 27 '16 at 23:22
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As a game developer, I strongly disagree with Rathony. The question asks about two words that are, for the question, written in English. That is as far as it goes.

The two words are common in that they are contextually in English, but they are in fact jargon. They mean the same thing in any language or interpretation. They are very familiar terms in the profession of game development, and just as familiar in programming.

However, they are as on topic in gaming as cheat codes or exploits.

Both terms reference a general reason in which the game behaves unexpectedly. The layman easily explains them as the same, but any programmer worth their weight will quickly explain the difference. this difference is explained well in current answers.

From the gamers point of view, this differentiates how said exploit can be interpreted. For example, there is a glitch in Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly that allows you to jump to the other side of an important waygate earlier than intended.

This means the player can access content early. By definition, if they s was a bug, they would likely be unable to access it at all.

It's a tricky comparison, but they both have merit as video game terms. Both words are thrown around a lot in game guides.

As such, it would be very useful for the typical gamer to know what each means;

Take another example. I am trying to achieve a bugged achievement on Xbox title B. Does that mean the achievement is known not to work/unlock, or can I achieve its requirements through unintended advantage of the specific way the game is made?

One definition tells me to not waste 5 hours trying. The other tells me there is a trick the doing it in 30 minutes.

While not inherently a gamer term, the question in itself has the potential to give the gamer knowledge to strategically decide their course of action, no matter what the game.

This question should be promoted, not removed

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    ...Huh? Almost every single answer disagrees with your opinion of their meaning. – Frank Feb 27 '16 at 16:53
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    Both terms are, in essence, originate from programming. Programming is an essential component to game dev, and as such, both terms are very common in game dev. If you were to sit a game dev test, where you told the marker both were synonyms, you would fail. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:55
  • Very true. But that is irrelevant to the question. – Frank Feb 27 '16 at 16:55
  • I see heavy argument to label this as game dev, but it is important to understand what is meant when someone says "this is glitched" or "this is bugged". They both have very different meanings on how you can play the game, from that exact specification on. One lets you 'take advantage' and move on, the other crashes your game and has the potential to write off your save file. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 16:59
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    Best example I can give comes from achievements; but a "glitched" achievement can be unlocked through an easier means then the listed requirement. A "bugged" achievement has the potential to never unlock itself, at all. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 17:03
  • Again, this a question that originates in game dev. The other answers are wrong, because Nobody else so far comes from game developing. That said, This is a good question because it asks for common game terms, in GAMER explanation. The current top answer also already explains the difference in a sense that the average gamer should understand. As far as I see, the only thing wrong with this question is that it hosts answers that would make knowledgeable users cringe. – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 17:10
  • I would accept that a glitch is a derivative of a bug, as most games request information on either under a "bug report"; but remember the rules of interface: Assume your audience is stupid – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 17:28
  • I apologise if anybody takes offense to the prior comment. But the game developer aims for their games to be understood by EVERYONE; if the stupid can understand our meaning, the smart majority should have no problem, right? Everybody wins. (and I only say stupid to stress the importance of the difference; You can be a rocket science, and still be completely ignorant to gaming. Ever seen a mathematics genius dumped into World of Warcraft by themselves? It is not pretty.). – user106385 Feb 27 '16 at 17:33
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    I think you're reading a lot of contextual information into the question that simply isn't there. If these are well-defined terms used in the academia of game developing, then great, but nothing about the question makes it clear that they're asking for definitions within that narrow scope. Simply because terms have a narrow definition when used in jargon in a specific discipline doesn't mean that others using them in a wider context are using them "wrong". If the question had a more narrow scope, then perhaps some of these fine distinctions would be correct, in general, the terms are the same. – DCShannon Feb 29 '16 at 14:17

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