Sometimes, You Have to Cheat


In a virtual platform world, cheating is sometimes a good thing. One man's cheat is another man's optimization.

Let's start with a story from the 1904 olympics in St Louis. In the marathon race, a runner crossed the finish line far ahead of the competition at an incredibly good time. It quickly became clear that he had cheated – he had been riding in a car for about half the race. This was obviously wrong, and he was quickly stripped of his "victory." Running a marathon is defined as covering the distance on foot. Using a car is not an allowed option.

However, if the goal of the marathon race had instead been defined as "get from A to B in the shortest time" with no particular care for the mode of transportation, our cheater would have been hailed as the smart guy. The other runners who insisted on covering the distance on foot would have been considered dumb and behind the times. Thus, we can see that what is considered "cheating" really depends on the rules of the game and what is considered the essential goal of the exercise.

In a the world of virtual platforms, such considerations about the rules of the game are common.

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