Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy …

Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from incompetence.

Yes, this is a riff on Clarke’s third law and I think it is the most consistent explanation of a lot of phenomena that we see in the world. It doesn’t have to be real incompetence. It doesn’t have to be malicious. It can just be sufficiently advanced bureaucracy.

It’s one of those traits that seem so human and I spotted it in connection with a discussion regarding an inconsequential page on Wikipedia, that is based on the idea of listing the most liked tweets. I asked a non-hypothetical question, what if the number of likes cannot be trusted? Would it make sense to have a list of most liked tweets in that case?

Now, I asked this as I have knowledge of at least a couple of tweets that seem to be throttled. The number of likes will go up and then mysteriously go down again and many people report that when they check the tweet, their like has disappeared.

Almost as if someone didn’t like the content.

But, I asked the question and as I know that that tweet is quite controversial, I didn’t include it. After a short back and forth, an editor concluded that there wasn’t anything to do as long as twitter didn’t publicly declare this to be a problem. But she added that she herself had noticed something similar with disappearing likes.

At this point we had established that the number of likes is not to be trusted.

The next day the same editor updated the page with new numbers of likes.

Even though we just agreed that they could not be trusted.

But that was her page to edit and edit it she would.















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