GothmoZulec is a home security robot for sale to consumers in the imaginary country of Serbia Nervada.

GothmoZulec has a special patented feature called "GZKillSpree," which when activated, causes the robot to go on a random killing spree until it is either destroyed or until its batteries run out.

Since this feature is extremely dangerous, it cannot be invoked without a password.

Moreover, the feature cannot be deactivated without the password, once it has been invoked.


Unfortunately, every GothmoZulec unit comes with the exact same factory-installed password.

Because of this, the Serbia Nervada legislature is currently debating whether purchasers of the GothmoZulec should be legally required to change the password, before using the robot for any purpose whatsoever.

There are currently three competing proposed bills to address this situation:

  • All customers should be legally forbidden to change the password before using GothmoZulec
  • All customers should be legally required to change the password before using GothmoZulec
  • All customers should be legally free to choose whether to change the password before using GothmoZulec

Each proposal has its own "camp" of vehement supporters, and each camp bitterly opposes the proposals of all the other camps.


Tecap Tifek wants to write about this situation on his blog, and he wants to use a snazzy four-word title to attract readers:

The GZKillSpree __???__ Debate!

The problem is, Tecap Tifek does not know what word to use for __???__.

He wants to use:

The GZKillSpree Optarity Debate!

Where "Optarity" refers to the property of being either "required" "optional" or "forbidden".

But "optarity" is not an English word.


What English word can Tecap Tifek use to fill in the blank?

  • 1
    I know it’s not what you’re looking for, but password seems to fit your elaborately contrived example. – Jim May 27 '17 at 3:29
  • 1
    so you're looking for a term for something like a permision-threshold or a "gated" state ? – Tom22 May 27 '17 at 4:51
  • The activation debate. – Xanne May 27 '17 at 7:48
  • 2
    Consider optionality – Ben May 27 '17 at 8:17
  • //password seems to fit your elaborately contrived example// // you're looking for a term for something like a permision-threshold or a "gated" state// Yes, the example is contrived, but it was easier than depicting the real-world scenario behind this question. The goal is literally to find a single English word to say ProgrammerX must decide whether to make FeatureZ either optional, required, or forbidden ... in other words, ProgrammerX must configure the __??__ality of FeatureZ. – dreftymac May 27 '17 at 8:24

You may use:

The GZKillSpree Obligation Debate!

So, if something is forbidden, the obligation is not to do it, if it is required, the obligation is to do it, and if it's optional the obligation is simply absent.


obligation NOUN

1 An act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.

‘I've always seen my right to vote as an obligation - a duty of citizenship; the ‘right thing’ to do.’

  • Although this feels like the only correct answer, it was hoped to find an English word that unambiguously conveyed "absent obligation" as a third state in a set of three mutually exclusive states, where each state is equally likely. – dreftymac May 27 '17 at 8:26

It would seem that the legislature should require that these gizmos be sold with the "killer" mode inactivated, as a matter of policy. Users will thus have the responsibility to decide whether to activate the bot to have certain characteristics. It's an opt-in or opt-out strategy.

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