Changelog: New stage naming policy

TL;DR: This change affects the naming of your staging instance configuration files on freistilbox.

Staging has been built into freistilbox from the start. Being able to test changes on a staging instance before launching them in production has been an important feature for the majority of our customers, Drupal agencies and WordPress shops alike.

freistilbox makes it convenient to manage separate configuration files for staging environments within the same Git repository. In order for this to work, staging instances need to have a unique name that differentiates them from the “production” instance. So far, we’ve allowed our customers to choose this name freely. There’s “stage” and “staging”, “test” and “testing”, and one customer uses “stfu_stoopid_client” for reasons we don’t know.

A few weeks ago, we were shocked to learn that by giving our customers this freedom, we’re actually causing them what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls “The Paradox of Choice”. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralysed, not happier but more dissatisfied. Here’s his TED talk on this topic:

It became clear to us quickly that we can’t be a part of this. We’re here to take stress off our hosting customers, not to cause them additional pressure. That’s why we decided to stop forcing you to choose a stage name again and again.

In order to implement this change, we first had to endure the analysis paralysis mentioned in Schwartz’s research ourselves: what name should we choose? Doing a quick statistical analysis to find the most frequently used name in existing freistilbox websites was an obvious option. Instead, we decided to do a multi-week study of how our customers integrate the freistilbox staging process into their daily workflows, and the result will surprise you.

After sifting through a heap of conversation transcripts during a few late-night on-call shifts, we found that the most common conversation among website developers during user acceptance testing went like this:

“Did you make the change we’ve discussed yesterday?”

“Yup, I did.”

“And does it work?”

“Well, yeah, it’s working in theory.”

With these results, defining the new mandatory stage instance name became easy and we’ve already renamed all existing staging instances to “theory”.