Re: META: To my fellow Extropians, calc your ERA

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 14:11:52 MDT

> > In tournament chess, there is a thing called an Elo rating
> > that describes one's strength. Sasha may have had this
> > in mind when he proposed his system ...
> Anders Sandberg wrote: When you get more energy, could you explain how
> the Elo ratings are calculated?

Sure. For now, lets show how to use an Elo-like system for
our extropian rating average (ERA). We would make a
matrix with the names in the first column and across the
first row. Excel is a great tool for this purpose, since in calculating
averages it ignores blank cells. Consider the matrix (which
I hope will scale) containing 4 extropian posters, Les Min, Uther
Pundragon, Somber Sam and Nancy Newby. All persons enter
themselves into matrix by choice, as is appropriate for a liberty
loving bunch.

The person goes down the list and rates the other ERA-ers
on a scale from -2 to 5, where -2 = killfile, 5 = take the
computer along on your honeymoon in hopes that the 5-er
has posted some jewel of wisdom you cant live without, a true
Sasha Chislenko clone.

Now heres the tricky part. A zero is not the same as a blank
and it matters: If you are neutral to a known person, you give the
person a 0, but if you know nothing about a person, you
leave the cell blank. A new person to the matrix should likely
have a lot of blanks. I specifically set this scale unsymmetrically to
make it come out this way. If a newby comes on the matrix and
posts one thing that you know nothing about, the newby would
get from you a 0. This is not an insult at all, its neutral. Otherwise
we would get ERA inflation, since people that hang out here
generally like each other, eh?

Lets try this matrix and hope it doesnt get messed up with
the font change in the email program Im using:

                            les min pundragon sam nancy ERA
les min 1.5 0 1
uther pundragon 1 2.5 -1 2
somber sam 2 2 .33 3
nancy newby 3 2 2

Nowthen in the cells along the main diagonal is the average
of the ratings one gave the others, so for instance Pundragon
gave Sam a 2 and Nancy a 3, but doesn't know anything about
Les, so his rating average that Pundragon gave out is 2.5.

In the last column, the ERA, is the average of what others in
the matrix think of you. Again blanks don't count, and your
own rating average is not part of this average.

                            les min pundragon sam nancy ERA
les min 1.5 0
1 .5
uther pundragon 1 2.5 -1 2 .67
somber sam 2 2 .33 3
nancy newby 3 2 2

See how that works? OK heres the part I think is a
new contribution on the part of moi. We are going to
derive another column, called the weighted ERA which
will be in some ways analogous to the chess Elo rating.
In chess, if you mop up the cannon fodder, your own
rating doesn't go up much, but if you manage to behead
a master you get major Elo points. *In our weighted ERA
column, we will multiply the ratings each person gives us
by their own ERA and scale it by their average rating.*

For instance, when Nancy first joins the matrix, all of
her row is blank, since no one knows her. Her ERA
defaults to zero. She can scan the archives and rate
everyone in there, but her own rating is zip. Nowthen,
in the scaled ERA column, we multiply the ERA by
the rating the person gives. So when nancy first
starts, she can rate everyone anything she wants
and it has no effect on anyone's scaled ERA since
her own ERA is 0.

Secondly, when calculating the scaled ERA, we
force everyone's average rating of others to a
value equal to one's own ERA. Nancy is new
and loves everybody, so she gives out a lot of
4s and 5s. Then suppose Sombre Sam gets in a
flame war and several people jump on him and
he thinks the whole world is against him. He rates
everyone a -1 or -2. In both cases we scale the
average rating that they gave out to equal their
own unscaled ERA.

What this does is in these cases, Nancy may be
making uninformed decisions, so her influence
on other's Scaled ERA is minimimized until she
herself posts some stuff allowing others to evaluate
her. In Sam's case his own ERA may well go
negative since flamewars are distasteful things and
reputations suffer on both sides. He rated others
negatively, so the product of his negative rating
and this unscaled ERA is positive. So it may actually
raise your own scaled ERA to be flamed by a nasty troll.

Pundragon is one who treats words as playthings
but seldom has anything meaty to say. On the
other hand, he is a decent chap and occasionally
posts something that makes you laugh like a
drunken hyena. He gets a middling positive ERA
influence level. I figure there is nothing wrong with
being a clown, so long as you are a funny one.

Nowthen, remember that this is just a game, and
you will not be placed in the matrix unless you ask
to be in it. Should we mask individual's ratings to
keep them secret? Or just people's ratings of each
other? How would you do it, set up a website? Then
each person would have a password that would
allow them to see and change their own column
only? I can write the scaling formulae if someone
can set up a website.

Who wants to play? I do! Anders? Brian?


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