Unto the Breach – The Next Phase of Sad Puppies 4

Now that the finalists have been announced and the voter packets are going out, it’s time to start the next phase of the Embiggening, namely doing my bit towards getting people to read/view/listen to/look at as many of the finalists as possible and voting for the ones they think are best in class.

Yes, this does mean I’ll be doing exactly that. I’m not going to state which way I’m voting for the simple reason that I’m not going to make a decision until I’ve at least looked at the works. Yes, even Dr Tingle’s work. I’m planning to try to read and review all of the finalists I can access.

I’ll also be putting up some discussion/here’s where you buy their stuff type posts on the SP4 site, since if nothing else the finalists ought to get a bit of a boost from their achievements.

I would have started this sooner, but the Code of Cthulhu has intervened and eaten anything I possess resembling a brain. By the time this post is live, said Code should have escaped into the wild, leaving a trail of battered, dazed programmers and testers shambling in its wake mumbling “Ea! Ea! Cthulhu Ftagn!”

I’m actually not working this weekend, so I should be able to start the whole process, once I’ve had myself a thoroughly decadent lie in until somewhere after 6 am (assuming the kitten doesn’t want attention or a game of fetch) and have the next phase up and running.

Along the way, I’m hoping to find or possibly steal time to look at the published data regarding nominations and do my own slice and dice of the numbers. I’m not a statistician, but I can see a trend when it smacks me in the face. I’m also reasonably good at looking at this as just numbers and not letting what I think get in the way. Plus, every perspective is valuable – the more people who are involved and actively looking at things like this, the more likely it is that any problems will get found (yes this is a core principle of software testing, embodied in the hallowed Bug Bash).

More detail will follow when I steal my brain back and cudgel it into compliance again (or bribe it with chocolate. That works too).

33 Comments

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33 responses to “Unto the Breach – The Next Phase of Sad Puppies 4

  1. Draven

    trend analysis using the public numbers? thats crazy tawk!

  2. When programmers have their minds seared into gibbering madness by unspeakable visions of the howling void, how can you tell?

  3. TRX

    > Embiggening

    I thought that was “Embigginning?”

  4. Funny you should post this, I was just visiting Sad Puppies 4 and thinking it’s time for an update. It would be nice to see some numbers from somebody on the Sad Puppy side of the divide, all the analysis I’ve seen is from partisans of the Chorfs. Checking their work seems like a good idea, not to put too fine a point on it.

    • Kate Paulk

      I’m not planning to even look at their work. I just want to see the data for myself and draw my own conclusions.

      • I haven’t seen the report on how running last years nominations through EPH failed to neuter the puppies. That would be kind of entertaining, I think.

        This is of course why they’re now talking about three stage voting, which I proposed, Oh, 13 months ago. Except they want to muck it up with things like Downvoting and committee substitutions.

        • Ben Yalow

          The report (which is *not* the report to the Business Meeting, but an academic paper analyzing the results of EPH if applied to last year’s real data — the report to the Business Meeting is still being written) can be found at https://www.schneier.com/academic/paperfiles/Proportional_Voting_System.pdf

          • Complete conflation of puppies, horrible research, doesn’t even answer the basic question “what works would have been nominated by using EPH on the ballots”. I hope the report being written for the business meeting is better.

            “It is, of course, difficult to prove a negative, so
            we can never be 100% certain that slate voting
            never occurred prior to this. But Jo Walton, author
            of the upcoming book An Informal History of the
            Hugos, says that according to her research:
            Between 1953 and 2014…there were no
            slates, and there were no allegations that
            there were slates, there were no
            controversies about slates, for the simple
            reason that slates had never crossed
            anybody’s mind. [Walt15]”

            Ignores the Joel Rosenberg slate in ’84, The Scientology slating in ’87, the ’89 slating problem, and even Harlan Ellison’s reveal of logrolling in ’95 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFR9TYxAVZQ

            • In Harlan’s video at 1:28: “There have been times when cyberpunk people have tried to do it.”

              Huh. I don’t think I know that story. Anyone?

          • Robin Munn

            Two quotes directly from Schneier’s paper, both of them lies. First:

            In 2015, Brad Torgensen published a Sad Puppies slate of works that were chosen primarily for philosophical reasons …

            And second:

            Note that, as discussed above, the various published rationales favoring the Puppy slates emphasized the moral, ethical, and political philosophy the books exemplified, broadening their appeal to include audiences without strong opinions about the aesthetic qualities of the works.

            That’s an… interesting way to sum up the “We want books that are fun, not preachy” philosophy behind the Sad Puppies movement.

          • From the paper: “To better understand the behavior of SDV-LPE and SDV-LPE-SL in the presence of bloc voting, we simulated the voting patterns of bloc voters using actual Hugo nominations data. We took the actual nominations result from the 2014 Hugos nominations election in the six representative categories of Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short
            Story, Related Work, and Campbell Award, and added additional nominations ballots by a hypothetical slate of varying sizes.”

            But they also ran the algorithms on the 2014 Hugo nominations election without added additional nominations ballots by a hypothetical slate of varying sizes. What was the result?

            “We will show that, if there is no overlap between the bloc’s preferences and those of other voters, then a bloc’s best strategy—involving complicated management of how many candidates each voter supports— only elects at most one more candidate than their simple honest strategy of nominating their top collective preferences. We will further argue, albeit without rigorous proof, that in the more general case where there is some overlap between the preferences of a bloc and those of non-bloc voters, optimal strategy is similarly difficult to execute and unimpressive in payoff.”

            I hope the report to the business meeting is a bit more conscientious. And that those with special access to this data would try to take a break from using it to create better and stronger puppy-fighting amendments. 😦

        • It was a good idea. But it assumed NOT gaming the system to be a shared goal.

  5. Famous words (overheard from a classroom this week): “You can’t make it do that.” Mutter mutter, clickity clickity. “I see it, but you can’t make it do that! There is no way [program] can fail like that.”
    Which may be why our IT people are rumored to each have a flask of “the good stuff” hidden somewhere in the depths of the equipment closet.

    • Albert

      An attitude shared by some game designers.

      Something I read over at another forum, years ago, was that it was a really good idea to get a math geek with optimization tendencies to try to break your game(or its various subsystems). Probably not a bad idea for programming in general.

      • Kate Paulk

        Yup. Also a tester with a somewhat odd bent on life, because said tester will have a talent for instinctively choosing the broken path first.

        • Anonymous Coward

          I once worked on GUI software that had to be intuitive and require minimal training (international user base). I dragooned as a tester a technical writer who, while quite intelligent, had absolutely NO knowledge of the problem domain. She proceeded to merrily poke holes in our code & online documentation with wild abandon. As expected, bringing in someone with no assumptions about How We Do Things ‘Round Here is an excellent way to find bugs. Even better, her ‘stupid’ questions hi-lited a lot of non-intuitive behavior in the GUI, giving us time to re-think & re-code before unleashing it on the masses. For reasons not entirely clear, I found that female tech writers have NO reticence in asking these ‘stupid’ questions, while males & engineers/programmers often do.

    • Kate Paulk

      Heh. My answer as a tester to that kind of comment has always been, “I just did, and if I can do it so will a customer.”

      • Chris Nelson

        Or put your four year old niece at the keyboard and record her actions. Revealed some big flaws in the UI of a CAD program. 😀

  6. davidelang

    Are you going to organize “book bombs” for all the finalists?

    • Kate Paulk

      Given my marketing power, they’re more likely to be “book damp squibs”, but yes, that is the idea.

    • John in Philly

      I would enjoy a book bombe, but the E version is going to be tricky. Now if we had the replicator……