I've been looking around for a term to use for an assignment. As a placeholder, I've been using the term "ultraviability" to convey the idea that too many choices are perceived as viable...even if they aren't.


I conducted an evaluation of an interface where participants had to navigate categories to find a particular item. I received feedback that there were too many options that seemed like they could fit the item. As an example, the user was asked to locate ice cream. Many categories were obviously wrong, but the major hang-ups were the categories dairy, milk and creams, and frozen desserts. The correct choice was frozen desserts while the other two did not contain the item.

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Information overload (or infoxication/infobesity): While this is an HCI term, it is not the right one.

Paradox of choice: This one doesn't work either because it relies heavily on the idea of too many choices being the cause of unhappiness. It doesn't capture the "too many correct looking choices" idea.

I'm hoping for a concise answer (not a hard one-word limit...but close).

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    There are words and phrases for overabundance of choice (e.g. embarassment of riches), and for superficially right things which are actually wrong (e.g. fool's gold), and for the difficulty of finding sdomething desired amidst an abundance of something undesired (e.g. needle in haystack), but combining these concepts into one is a tall order, I think.
    – choster
    Oct 20, 2016 at 3:31
  • I'd like to see a sample sentence or two, please, to see how you want to use the word or phrase. Oct 20, 2016 at 3:39
  • Sorry to point this out and a large part of the problem is that no, the correct choice was not only frozen desserts and it is not true that the other two did not contain the item. It's not quite impossible for "milk and creams" to exclude ice cream, but the idea that "dairy" doesn't include "ice cream" clearly implies a basic misunderstanding of either "ice cream" or "dairy" or both. Even if in fact, ice cream is made of potato powder, it's still considered as a dairy product, sine qua none. Nov 4, 2016 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


This seems like ambiguity.


ambiguity NOUN

[mass noun] The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.
‘we can detect no ambiguity in this section of the Act’
[count noun] ‘ambiguities in such questions are potentially very dangerous’

‘In my opinion, since there is no ambiguity or uncertainty, the application of this rule does not arise.’

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    Thanks for this. Ambiguity is the word I was looking for. Particularly because I want to reference the interface by its ambiguous wording (i.e. unclear what dairy references).
    – Devbag
    Oct 20, 2016 at 4:32

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