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Banana problem

Posted by ESC on June 06, 2000

Banana Problem

1. The situation that results when one is uncertain as to when a project is actually finished (and when, therefore, to stop revising it)

2. A condition sometimes afflicting Web sites, in which the Webmaster adds so many bells and whistles that the whole thing is a mess

"Banana problem" is of fairly recent vintage, but it's already turned up in the venerable New York Times.

According to the New Hacker's Dictionary, this handy expression refers to the old joke about a youngster who said, "I know how to spell 'banana' . . . but I don't know when to stop."

"No, Charlie, the site looks great, but I'm afraid if you insist on adding the Dancing Mahirs AND that 12-minute video clip of yourself playing ping-pong, we're going to have a real banana problem on our hands."
Martha Barnette is the author of Ladyfingers & Nun's Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names. She's also the word maven at