11 September, 2004: More introspective nonsense

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So, then, Slashdot. That gets you something like 50,000 hits in ten hours, and contrary to naive expectations, some of the visitors wrote interesting comments. This also confirmed something I've long believed, which is that the `Slashdot effect' is something which mainly affects people who've misconfigured their webservers:

Slashdot hit rate

-- from the theory, the hit rate should rise instantly from its background value to its maximum value at the time the link was made. In fact it rose in two jumps, because we'd forgotten to remove the compile-time limit on the number of processes with which apache can serve clients. Oops. Once that was fixed, the problem went away.... (Five hits per second isn't very much, of course -- sustained, it's about four hundred thousand visits/day -- but that plot doesn't include the requests for all the graphs in the two discussion pieces to which Slashdot linked; including those pushes the rate up to about 35 hits/second.)

Slashdot didn't link to the quiz itself from the front page, which is slightly disappointing given that the linked discussion articles give away many of the answers. That said, judging by the Slashdot comments, I don't think this will have had much effect on the results....

One other oddity: numerous people complained that, in relation to the question about the first year in which a woman flew in space, the term astronaut is specific to American spacefarers and that the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was a cosmonaut. This is a perfectly legitimate point; such framing problems will affect the answers given.

Except for one point.

The question doesn't even mention the term `astronaut'. It reads,

Please estimate... the year in which a woman first flew in space.

Ah well.

On a slightly different topic, here are the quotations and aphorisms which the Slashdot hordes liked most and least from Am I Sig or Not?, based on the change in score from before they arrived to after:

Change in score New score Quotation
liked most
+1.0 5.7 ``What lawyers call intellectual property is no more than theft from the public domain.''
(Andy Mueller-Maguhn)
+0.9 6.1 ``How can you make good ideas sound so bad?''
``I'm an engineer.''
(Scott Adams, from `Dilbert')
+0.7 6.3 Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt
+0.7 6.0 ``Think about the average person. Now, half the people out there, by definition, are even dumber than that.''
(L. Ron Hubbard, attrib.)
+0.6 4.8 Life is an hereditary disease
liked least
-0.7 4.4 ``... a difficulty for every solution''
(Samuel, on the Civil Service)
-0.7 4.4 ``If I were an international spy, should I choose an aisle or a window seat?''
(burning questions of the hour: seen on the internet)
-0.8 3.6 ``Of course, it doesn't matter much where you live south of the river these days. Under the New London Plan, they're going to lump all those areas together... and call them Brighton.''
(Flanders and Swann)
-0.8 4.1 He stood upon that fateful ground,
Cast his lethargic eye around,
And said beneath his breath:
Whatever happens,
We have got
The Maxim Gun
And they do not. (Hilaire Belloc, `The Modern Traveller')
-0.9 3.2 ``The Algernons were all from minor public schools. In the new mood of classlessness, they could plausibly carry on as if they came from major ones.''
(Clive James, on 1960s Cambridge)

The best that can be said for this, I think, is that the downward-moving ones don't confirm our prejudices about Slashdot readers as much as do the upward-moving ones.

Copyright (c) 2004 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.