Friday Fun Fact – Round Robin origins

In telecommunications, Round Robin can be used to evenly distribute the number of calls, avoiding one person to constantly have to answer the calls. Cool right?

Actually, what is really cool lays in the origin of this name:

First of all, this has nothing to deal with our beloved Robinhood. It comes from the French “Ruban rond”. In the XVIIth century, when peasants wanted to complain to the king, they submitted petitions.

The king, not very fond of this kind of action, systematically condemned to death and executed the first 3 signatories of the list. Thus, petitions were no longer popular. No one wanted to be the first to sign and it’s easy to see why…

But they found a way around: signing a petition not in vertical but circular order, so that the leaders could not be identified. The names were placed on a ribbon attached in a circle on the petition, so that there was no longer a first on the list.

The story does not say whether people were then randomly chosen to be executed. But one thing is certain: the next time you add your email address to sign a petition, you will remember those brave peasants and the round robin.

Long live online petitions, long live the Internet!

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