1. Tragedy of the commons

There is a classic tale in game theory describing the usage of shared resources freely accessible to everyone. In the original 19th century example the tale is about ten cattle herders living in a small village. Each herder has one cow, and the pasture of the village is perfectly suited to feed 10 cows. All cows are healthy and well fed, and this setup maximizes the return per cow (milk, meat, etc.).

After a while one of the herders realizes that he can increase his profit by adding a second cow to the pasture. While he is doubling his number of cows he is not doubling his profit – all 11 cows on the field are producing now only at 95% of their maximum. Yet, for the herder this is still a 90% increase in profit. This increase is getting lower and lower with each cow, but for every next herder the financially better decision is to get one more cow. Those who do not participate in this game of cow-addition will be penalized. They just experience the negatives (their cow is also producing less) without the positives (having more cows). This of course inevitably ends in most actors choosing the addition of cows, the pasture getting destroyed and not being able to feed all the cows.  How Floyd summarizes the moral of the story:

If all herders made this individually rational economic decision, the common could be depleted or even destroyed, to the detriment of all.

Tragedy of commons - same thing can happen with LinkedIn Pulse

This example is a time-tested classic still used nowadays to describe the situation and problematics of the „commons”, common goods available to everyone and anyone. It’s very typical to use this analogy in environmental protections with topics like air pollution, fishing in seas or water clarity. When posting on LinkedIn Pulse – and sending a notification to all of your connections – became an option for everyone, it essentially became the pasture or the air in these examples. It’s there, it’s free to use, and for each and every individual contemplating whether to post the vacancy or not, it makes sense to do it.