Learn Facebookese

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 1 2012 6:52 PM

Sh*t Facebook Employees Say

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Facebook executives.

Photo by KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images

Along with unveiling the company’s balance sheet, Facebook’s S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals how Facebook employees talk. There are at least five places in the filing—four of which are in a “letter from Mark Zuckerberg”—in which outsiders are let in on company lingo. When it comes to jargon, Facebook’s tastes could best be described as Successories poster meets fortune cookie—one part business-school maxim, one part Zen mantra.

Josh Levin Josh Levin

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

All excerpts below are taken from the S-1 filing.

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Facebookism No. 1: “Done is better than perfect”

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Facebookism No. 2: “Code wins arguments”

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Facebookism No. 3: “Move fast and break things”

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

 Facebookism No. 4: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Facebookism No. 5: “This journey is 1 percent finished.”

We encourage our employees to think boldly. We also have posted the phrase “this journey is 1% finished” across many of our office walls, to remind employees that we believe that we have only begun fulfilling our mission to make the world more open and connected.

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