signal-to-noise ratio

signal-to-noise ratio: [from analog electronics] n. Used by hackers
   in a generalization of its technical meaning.  `Signal' refers to
   useful information conveyed by some communications medium, and
   `noise' to anything else on that medium.  Hence a low ratio implies
   that it is not worth paying attention to the medium in question.
   Figures for such metaphorical ratios are never given.  The term is
   most often applied to USENET newsgroups during flame wars.
   Compare bandwidth.  See also coefficient of X, lost in
   the noise.

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