The Overreaction Paradox

Developer Tea


In today's episode. We're going to discuss. Something called the overreaction paradox. This is a newly coined term for a long existing phenomenon. My Name's Jonathan Cottrell. You're listening to develop a t and go on. The show is to help. German developers like you find clarity perspective and purpose in their careers. A spoiler alert for today's episode. Even though we're talking about something called the overreaction paradox. We are not suggesting that the people who are responding to this global pandemic are overreacting fact in most ways. This paradox supports the other side of the argument. That overreaction can often be completely rational. Here's how it works will use an example from our work as developers. Let's imagine that you have a startup. You've come up with a great idea. And least you think it's a great idea for an application and you know that this apps going to be launched on product hunt tomorrow but you do nothing to prepare for it. Maybe leave the APP on a small server. That can easily be overloaded. Or maybe it's dino that goes to sleep on Hiroko or something and so as the APP is shared on Product Hunt. Or as it's shared on hacker news and because it's such a good idea they had it gained enough popularity but all of the traffic. Obviously overtakes your server and you can't scale to meet the demand now not only. Does the traffic overtake the server? But you don't really do anything about it. You kind of sit back and say well. Things will work themselves out eventually. People stopped visiting the site because it's unresponsive and in a way things did work themselves out but just not to your advantage. People stop visiting the site because was unresponsive. In this scenario. You didn't overreact but you still experienced a significant failure and it's obvious that you could have done more to prepare now. Let's stick it to the other side of this argument. Let's rewind back to the night or the month before the launch. Your great startup idea is scheduled to release on product hunt. Perhaps you thought ahead and decided to release on Hacker News on a day earlier. Perhaps you're going to stagger. You're you're already kind of preparing for the onslaught of traffic and coordinating your marketing efforts to manage that traffic. Well and so you prepare in advance in multiple ways first by coordinating those released times and then maybe you scale up your server or you have redundant servers multiple backup options in case the first line of Defense or your first server falls down and you can easily reroute traffic to another server. And of course the tactics to do this. There's a lot of them and we don't need to dive into the details. But it's important to notice here then you haven't even released your product. Yeah in fact if you're looking at the need the immediate need for these extra measures of precaution. The the immediate need just. Isn't there now. Let's fast forward to the day of launch. And you start getting heavy traffic in fact even heavier than you had planned for him now. Initially your plans all kind of work you have one of your servers get overloaded and traffic automatically flows to the second one but then you have a few users that are reporting that. They're seeing some kind of error. You react immediately adding even more servers to your pool of service and you can see how this kind of reactive response and proactive response. If you're looking at it in comparison to the previous the previous scenario this kind of activity is much more desirable but I wanted to kind of change the second scenario. Let's imagine that not only. Were you able to handle all the traffic? But you're able to handle all of it easily with a lot of headroom. In this scenario people might say that you overreacted. That you prepared to heavily or that. You imagined a problem that never existed. These are all phrases that we like to throw around and we have good reasons for throwing these phrases around for example is not really a good idea to write code before you need it. And this is essentially. The some of the overreaction paradox. I'm going to read the tweet directly from James Clear James Clear as the person who kind of coined this term. The overreaction paradox. And here's here's the tweet. Windy results of taking effective action. Is that nothing happens. Which makes your efforts seem unnecessary. And like an overreaction. Even if it was the right thing to do I want you to. Think about this overreaction paradox while we go and talk about today's sponsor and then want to come back and talk about how we can make our incentives align with the things that we care about so that we don't get stuck on the wrong side of the overreaction paradox.

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