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hidden flag

hidden flag: [scientific computation] n. An extra option added to
   a routine without changing the calling sequence.  For example,
   instead of adding an explicit input variable to instruct a routine
   to give extra diagnostic output, the programmer might just add a
   test for some otherwise meaningless feature of the existing inputs,
   such as a negative mass.  The use of hidden flags can make a
   program very hard to debug and understand, but is all too common
   wherever programs are hacked on in a hurry.