In another life I posted a comment calling someone's answer a "red herring" because I felt that it was distracting from the true problem:
D3 is a red herring here. Your solution works because you removed [some html tags]. If we [add those back in to your D3 solution], the bug reappears.
But something didn't sit right after I wrote that... Indeed, Google says the definition of "red herring" is:
something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.
(emphasis on "intended" is mine).
So basically I think that using "red herring" here is accusing the solution's author of malice. And so what was bothering me was that my comment was possibly (TBD) rude, but I was not trying to be rude.
OK, so what is my question then... I guess 2 questions:
- Is Google's definition (shown above) for red herring correct?
- Is there a more polite version of red herring, or an expression that might convey mere unintentional harm, and not malice nor even intention? Like a word or phrase meaning unintentional distraction?
Looking at existing research on this popular topic, I found unintentionally led up the garden path. OK, that's good -- he wasn't trying to be harmful, just needs some help with navigational aids. Is there something like that, but maybe fewer syllables?