There's an expression that, "Perfect is the enemy of good". What is the opposite of that expression? I'm talking about times when "marginally adequate" is also "the enemy of good". Is there a more concise and evocative way to say that? "Golden handcuffs" might be in the right ballpark, if they were downgraded to "Bronze handcuffs".

For example: A product that suits most people's needs most of the time, but is unsuitable for most people some of the time, and some people most of the time. Yet, for whatever reason, this product is completely dominant, and can't be dislodged from its market position. Some possible reasons include:

...an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own objectives at the expense of those of the minority factions.

...a decision "which bases its claim to rule upon numbers, not upon rightness or excellence".

To give a more specific example of a product: I'm talking about the kind of criticism you saw against "Wintel" (Windows and Intel) at one time.

Arguably, platforms that make money by selling your data or showing you ads (Facebook, Google, etc.) are also examples of this. They may be very effective, but their core business model is extremely objectionable to some people.

Another example is hypertext, which has some major failings like "link rot", links that only go in one direction, no inherent licensing mechanism, etc. Attempts to fix hypertext have been kludge on top of kludge. I once heard hypertext described as, "The worst thing that could possibly work."

In the same vein, email has some problems like "spam" that have been so intractable that there's an oft-cited joke about "Why your solution to spam won't work".

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    It's not quite right but I am reminded of "Better the Devil you know" to describe a situation you would prefer to a one that is yet unknown.
    – Elliot
    May 27 at 14:11
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    @k1eran In this situation, the existing product's market position is too stable. That's why it's stifling better solutions. May 27 at 15:05
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    I would call this product ingrained, which has the connotation of being "comfortable but not great" May 27 at 21:50
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    I can't answer but I don't understand why someone wasted a downvote on a novel question. I have compensated for it.
    – Anton
    May 27 at 22:03
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    Harry Clements explained how Cessna came to design their "optimised mediocrity":. This phase is understood in different ways by different people, but the Cessna 172 is the best-selling airplane of all time - by miles.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 27 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


I think you could use the word tokenistic, which means to make only a token effort or doing no more than the minimum.

Maybe something along the lines of 'tokenistic solutions that do nothing but stifle innovation'

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