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Product Design: The Asshole Contingency
Anyone interested in the design of software (or anything, really, but particularly software) really should take a read through this short but correct article.

Its point is simple: software is often designed for (in the telling of the famous physics joke) perfect spherical users, who are all cooperative and well-intentioned towards each other. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work like that -- there *are* assholes out there. Not a gigantic number, but it doesn't *take* a gigantic number to mess everything up: the old adage "It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch" is nowhere truer than in the online experience. The proof is all over the Web.

I suspect Querki is going to get some pushback for some of its baked-in decisions, such as the fact that there is not, and probably never will be, a way to enable anonymous, unmoderated commentary. This article is a good outline of why: my consistent assumption is that a small but non-trivial number of the users are going to be bad actors, who are attempting to harm others or the service itself, or are simply assholes; the whole system is designed around that assumption. Dealing with that, and taming the resulting complexities, is one of its biggest ongoing design challenges...


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