Longreads + Open Thread

Retail, Sybil Attacks, Discoveries, Roditi, Chongqing, Moderna



Open Thread

Reader Feedback

After last week's post on Jane Street (now the most popular Diff post of all time!), I got lots of comments, publicly and privately, on the question of whether their use of Ocaml is a brilliant move, a perverse decision, actually insignificant, etc. One of my favorites, a comment from Levi Ramsey:

A benefit of choosing a fringe language is that you can generally hire developers with less professional experience. With mainstream languages there's an impulse to hire experience so you don't have to mentor and can ramp them quickly. But if you're using a language with few experienced developers, you're going to be mentoring everyone regardless of experience, so you're going to focus on hiring for ability to be mentored.

This applies in a different direction to companies with idiosyncratic management styles, or with highly opinionated code standards and developer tooling—weird practices

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  1. Online courses can be quite valuable, but there's a somewhat efficient market at work: if the course teaches you a few simple tricks that instantly make money, those tricks will also be easy to detect and block. Whereas a course that teaches you something that requires effort to implement won't. A good rule of thumb is that the value of practical education is proportionate to the ratio of time required to implement divided by time spent in the course. This applies to other kinds of advice, too.

  2. Sybil attacks can show up in other domains, too. In politics, astroturfing basically counts, since a large number of mildly-informed voters who suddenly care about some niche issue will make that issue look like it’s popular, even if it’s actually just being marketed well.