I'm looking for a phrase or word that has a meaning similar to rearranging chairs on the Titanic, but means that it's a lot of effort for a small improvement on something that's already working well. Maybe it helps, but it probably doesn't matter. Any good ready-made ones?

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    Not quite what you want, but "gilding the lily" comes to mind. – Dan Bron May 7 '15 at 0:56
  • law of diminishing returns – Matt Gutting May 7 '15 at 1:05
  • Gilding the lily is very close, which explains why "polishing a..." keeps popping into my head. Diminishing returns is much more practical. Thank you. – bokomaru May 7 '15 at 2:28
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    "Like rearranging deck chairs on the Enola Gay." – Robusto May 7 '15 at 2:30
  • There's a phrase like putting lipstick on the Mona Lisa but the connotation is more that in trying to improve something near perfect, you've actually lessened it. – Neil W May 7 '15 at 5:30


In software development, bikeshedding is an activity that draws focus away from more legitimate concerns to focus on trivial issues that probably don't matter. The word comes from the idea of people building a perfectly functional building, and then arguing over what color they should paint the bikeshed. There are probably bigger things to worry about, and the building, and bikeshed, will be no worse off whatever color the bikeshed is eventually painted.


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