Talk:Conway's law

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Jargon File?[edit]

What's the significance of Jargon File and its maintainer's identity in the topic? Isn't it just trivia? What kind of authentic source is it?

-- Agreed! Also the restatement in the Jargon File is hardly relevant considering that the original source by Conway contains "... five people were assigned to the COBOL job and three to the ALGOL job. The resulting COBOL compiler ran in five phases, the ALG0L compiler ran in three." I suggest that we remove it.

Quote No Longer in Cited Harvard Paper[edit]

In the "Supporting Evidence" section, the quote from Harvard Business School's study is cited as coming from reference #6, a PDF of a paper they published about the topic. However, in 2011 the paper was updated and the quote on this page is no longer in the text. There is a new quote with a similar meaning:

In all of the pairs we examine, the product developed by the loosely-coupled organization is significantly more modular than the product from the tightly-coupled organization.

Should we update the quote or link to a 2008 version of the paper as the reference?

should "mirroring hypothesis" link here[edit]

I first heard this law referred to as the mirroring hypothesis", and several of the papers references use this name as well. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:36, 10 October 2014 (UTC)


I changed the example from a lame example (C strings vs C++ string class) to a more illustrative one. More examples are certainly welcome.

This page could also use some counter examples: The project Im working on now certainly doesnt fit: We have 3 people working on a system that naturally just has 2 components: 1 person is working on 1 component, and 2 people share the other component.

counter example[edit]

Counter examples may be found in: Hvatum, Lise, Alan Kelly, "What do I think about Conway's Law now", Conclusions of a EuroPLoP Focus Group, EuroPloP 2005, 2005 URL: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:55, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

page layout[edit]

I don't think this page should use Template:Technology --AlastairIrvine 14:35, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Real-life "example"[edit]

Is it just me or is the real-life example (of the Mars Climate Orbiter) not Conway's Law law at all? Surely there's a better example. CoderGnome (talk) 16:47, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

I agree, I don't think it's a good example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:34, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree also, the Mars Climate Orbiter problem is related to System Integration, System Testing and reusing a System or System component in a way that the component was not orginally intended for hence they didn't test some elements. There is a comprehensive report on a Nasa Website. It has nothing to do with Conway's Law. Personally, I am not really that fussed with Conway's Law anyway. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:01, 20 September 2011 (UTC)


I wonder if this is why OSS can have some pretty distinct code. Any info on avoidance? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:03, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Another "Conway's Law"[edit]

I've removed the following text as it seems rather flippant, has no references, and it isn't clear what it has to do with this article. It also vaguely sounds like vandalism (a citation would clarify that issue!) The text was:

Conway's Law is sometimes reported as a different adage:

  • In every organization there is one person who knows exactly what is going on at all times. This person must be fired.[citation needed]
  • Regardless of the organization or industry, this person's name is most commonly "John".

Dhollm (talk) 16:27, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Reasoning for the Law[edit]

A possible reason for the law is because many organizations will create "interfaces" or "protocols" in advance, so that the result of group A will interface (communicate in a pre-formalized manner) with the result of group B.

Though, this reasoning may break down in the context of open source development. -- (talk) 22:15, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Corollary of Conway's Law[edit]

The section “Corollary of Conway's Law” currently contains the following:

The context in which Conway's Law is seen as humorous, is when social structures of rigid organizations are reflected in designs, the results are often sub-standard. The extension to this circumstance is that interpersonal relationship problems may also manifest in the design.

That doesn't make any sense to me, and since it's not only terrible writing, but also completely unsourced, I suggest that we remove it. Opinions? -- Levin (talk) 13:08, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

OK, removed it. -- Levin (talk) 16:18, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

has anyone found or heard of a corollary in website user experience design, as a specific instance of software design? in that context i have often used the expression 'corporate underpants' to (humorously) indicate that internal structure of an organisation is plainly visible in the navigation system or information architecture of its corporate or branded website. I have some sympathy for the removed comment above as it can indeed come down to individuals (empire-builders) within an organisation dictating the design and architecture of a website based upon their own feelings of self-importance. (talk) 09:53, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

A corollary to Conway's law can be deduced to be: When an organization attempts to change its social structure, the architecture of their application architecture will work against them. There is no reference to this as I made it up - but I am generally considered a thought leader in software development. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alshall (talkcontribs) 00:50, 2 June 2016 (UTC)

"Hitler Rule" is Sexton, Not Conway.[edit]

There is a different "Conway's Law," incorrectly attributed to Mike Conway of the Electronic Freedom Foundation. It is Sexton's Law, originated by Mike, I think it is, Sexton, of Southern Ontario, Canada, a pioneer web developer of the 1980's.

In its various forms, it generally says something like "Every stupid argument winds up with somebody dragging in Hitler -- and the person who does so loses."

Somebody-Or-Other's Law states that all eponymous laws are named after the wrong person.

David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 14:15, 6 May 2017 (UTC)


From cursory reading, I do not understand this law. More real-life (statistical?) examples are needed. Zezen (talk) 08:45, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Colloquial Interpretation Removal[edit]

Re: Edit history per: 'Removed "colloquial terms" - it's badly written and not necessary'

Why is not necessary? The introduction is too wordy and indirect to capture in the essence of the idea. The colloquial reinterpretation was intended to make it easier reading for average humans instead of just business or English majors. If the colloquial statement is "poorly written", then please re-write it better rather than outright delete. The baby was tossed out with the bathwater. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Here's the statement in question:

In colloquial terms, it's generally saying software ends up "shaped like" the organizational structure it's designed in or for.

How about this re-wording:

In colloquial terms, it's generally saying software ends up "shaped like" the organizational structure it's designed in or designed for.

We could attempt to clarify what "shaped like" means, but I don't know how to do such without destroying the colloquial nature of it, which is the goal of the phrase in the first place. Being technically precise, and communicating sufficiently to a non-technical audience are sometimes conflicting goals. Suggestions welcomed. As it stands, I find "shaped like" good enough for now and shall still lobby to have it put back despite a better alternative not yet being found.

I will put it back on November 2019 unless somebody objects. (talk) 15:31, 11 March 2019 (UTC)