1 min read

Letting Diplomacy Win

Soon after Yahoo! Pipes launched, we faced a series of outages. One of the culprits was a third-party browser extension that appeared to be using Pipes to scour various websites for torrents. Developed by someone in Israel, this extension had amassed millions of users. For a day or two we played a game of whac-a-mole: blocking one access point only for another to pop up. Given the extensions decentralized install base, this presented challenges for our 3-person engineering team.

Initially, I drafted a stern threatening letter to send to the developer, vetted by corporate lawyercats and senior management. However, upon showing it to my boss Pasha he suggested a softer touch. He recommended putting the stern letter on hold and first reaching out kindly, thanking the developer for using Pipes but explaining the strain it was causing our service, followed by a polite request to cease using it to power the extension.

Despite skepticism from the legal team and senior leaders about this softer approach, I decided to go with Pasha's advice anyway. To my surprise, the developer promptly responded, apologized and assured me that the disruptive traffic would disappear within days. And it did.

This was a masterclass for me in the effectiveness of a gentle approach.