Hacker News' Favorite Laws and Principles

I've noticed that Hacker News comments tend to mention a lot of the same "laws", effects, and other things that succinctly explain ideas. Here are some of the most prevalent:

  • Goodhart's Law: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure

  • Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time it is alloted

  • Dunning Kruger Effect: People with lesser competency in some area overestimate their abilities compared to someone with greater competency

  • Moore's Law: The idea that semiconductor chip density doubles every two years. (dead)

  • Huang's Law: GPU performance will double every two years (ongoing and alive! Jensen Huang is the current CEO of Nvidia)

  • Occam's Razor: The simplest explanation is usually correct

  • Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice what which can be explained by incompetence/stupidity

  • Pareto Principle (AKA 80/20 Rule): 80% of output comes from 20% percent of source (for example 80% of campaign donations come from 20% of donors)

  • Murphy's Law: What can go wrong will go wrong

  • Brook's Law: Adding programmers to a late software project will only make it later

  • Conway's Law: Software architecture is determined by organizational structure (e.g. a team split into backend/frontend teams will have a microservices based architecture, as opposed to monolithic)

  • Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap

  • Chesterton's Fence: If there is something that you want to get rid of that seemingly does nothing (like a fence, or a piece of code) but you don't know why it's there, you should think about why that thing might be there before you remove it

Zach Bellay published on

2 min, 259 words