Friday, April 9, 2010

The Trouble with the Internets: Users and their Fives

If we are going to persist in abusing simple artificial intelligences, we will have only ourselves to blame when the automatons rise up, rape our kittens, and enslave our species. I refer, presently, to the numberless billions of person-hours devoured by watching youtube videos that result in a ratings curve that looks like this:

Sweet Jebus in blue jeans! People, if you care about the honor of our kittens, click 2 or 3 now and then. Even dare to click 4. If you truly detest a video, give it a 1 -- go ahead, it doesn't bite. Do the same on and Netflix, whose ratings distributions are likely as silly as this one.

As it turns out, yep -- it's more normal-ish on Netflix, but it's a pronounced J curve (PDF) on

People, people. Sure, you enjoyed the season six DVD set of Three's Company -- the commentary alone is worth the price, am I right? I am happy to assume I am right; please don't trouble me with an actual answer, as that will unearth happily-suppressed memories of the people most likely to have contributed commentary tracks for the season six DVD set of Three's Company.

Is there no detectable space between this DVD set and, say, something that wasn't known to be complete, irredeemable shit as it was broadcasting? Sure, John Ritter had his moments, and his sudden death ended a career that wasn't completely ruinously unwatchable, but really? Twenty-six "perfect" ratings out of twenty-nine given? Season six? Well after Chrissie had abandoned the show? Don Knotts repeating the same schtick over and over -- schtick that was already tired before he dropped it into this sit-com?

For ratings, I would expect a bias to skew results toward the higher ratings, as people would tend to give high ratings to things they've purchased as a way of rationalizing the expenditure.

No such bias could explain the J-curve on youtube, where the videos are free. They are free and frequently deserving of something less than five stars. It's true. For the sake of humankind and kittens everywhere, please be that change.


larryniven said...

If this makes you any happier...

(If it doesn't, the onus is on you to go back in time and stop yourself from looking at it, I guess.)

larryniven said...

HAW, just kidding. IMDB fooled me. Try this one instead: