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Subject: Understanding why it matters which game is ranked #1 rss

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Tomello Visello
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There are two prominent candidates currently swapping the top position and readers of this thread are more than likely aware (even painfully aware) of a certain amount of thread turmoil whenever they make the exchange.

Some posts express a level of outrage and confusion at the switch. Others express dismay and confusion regarding the outrage.

Since almost anything I am personally interested does not even fall into the top 20, it may have taken me longer to understand the underlying cause of the turmoil than it should have.

So here it is.

The ranking is based on the rating. The rating definitions are based not on exprssions of quality, but rather on expressions of pleasure. Thus, when one candidate is demoted then much is heard from the losing side at the loss of status. I have come to believe that this is really a cry of suffering from a populace that can't stand the thought that someone else is getting more pleasure than they themselves are.

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J Fitzpatrick
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Your closing thought is actually the driving force behind the behavior of most of humanity.

People complain that rich people are too rich and we should take their money. (They're having more fun than me!)

People complain that sex outside of marriage is immoral and we should condemn people who do it. (They're having more fun than me!)

People complain that some couple in their neighborhood is too affectionate and that it's inappropriate to display love so visibly. (They're having more fun and happier than me!)

Every generation of older people since the dawn have time have complained about the actions of the younger generation (and nearly every complaint can be distilled down to "they aren't working as hard as I had to and do and they are having too much fun!")

People can be quite a bunch of nosy and self-centered jerks.

Edited to add: And for the standing record... I think the continual uproar about the ranking of the top two games is flat out ridiculous.
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Kyoko Steeple
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It's even less complicated than that: BGG'ers need something to bitch about and GW hasn't done anything heinous recently.
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J C Lawrence
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TVis wrote:
I have come to believe that this is really a cry of suffering from a populace that can't stand the thought that someone else is getting more pleasure than they themselves are.


I refuse to consider the implications for their sex lives.
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| Scott Kinzie |
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TVis wrote:
Some posts express a level of outrage and confusion at the switch. Others express dismay and confusion regarding the outrage.


I'm in that latter category. I've learned to just IGNORE them and hopefully that's like a little less fanning of the flames... in hopes it goes away sooner.

To me there IS probably an important difference between the #1 game and the #10 game or even more so, between the #1 game and the #50 game. But, honestly, is there REALLY any significant difference in order of magnitude (fun-wise and good-game-wise) between #1 and #2? I argue that there is NOT. They are basically equivalent in my book... so no big deal at all about which is #1 and which is #2. Non-issue.

On the other hand, I'm glad Monkey Auto Races was only #1 for a very short time (even though *I* helped to put it there!).
 
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While I agree that what you suggest can be a motivating factor, I don't think that's the primary cause here. Here are the stats currently:

Geek Average
Rating Rating Votes
Agricola (2007) 8.21 8.28 13699
Puerto Rico (2002) 8.21 8.30 19093


We've been told that some secret fixed number and value of anti-shill votes are added to every game. But if that were the case, a game with an average rating and more votes would have to have a geek rating higher than a game with a lower rating. In other words, Puerto Rico would have to rate above Agricola, and should have steadily been in that position for months.

So, we don't know what the ratings mean. We thought we did, but obviously not. We can no longer trust the ratings as neutral advice. That's the issue. Yes, a small difference in ratings is meaningless compared to personal taste factors, but how do we know what magnitude of bias the ratings have? Maybe the Secret Factors could push a game hundreds of places up or down. We just don't know.

So, I think people's dislike of uncertainty, and people's extreme dislike of something they thought certain becoming uncertain are the main factors here. It's like people's reaction to an earthquake.
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Tomello Visello
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Tall_Walt wrote:
So, we don't know what the ratings mean.
I think you misspeak. We do know what the ratings mean (or are supposed to mean) becaause the definitions are revealed by mouseover. It is the rankings that bother you, And even then, we know what they mean but not exactly how they are derived

Tall_Walt wrote:
So, I think people's dislike of uncertainty, and people's extreme dislike of something they thought certain becoming uncertain are the main factors here.
So as I understand it, you've been told that here is a secret formula and then you're upset because the secret formula does not return results that you can predict?

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Tomello Visello
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Tall_Walt wrote:
It's like people's reaction to an earthquake.
Wow. I'll accept that you are engaging in hyperbole.but with all sincerity I must tell you that I tremble far more about earthquakes that take place on the other side of the globe than I do about which game is ranked on top here.

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| Scott Kinzie |
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Maybe the Secret Factors could push a game hundreds of places up or down. We just don't know.


Tall_Walt: While I think you have some good points here and I generally agree, I doubt very much that the "secret formula" would be so skewed as to "...push a game hundreds of places up or down." I really think everyone would have noticed that by now. Granted it might be pushing games 3, 5, or 10 (for example) up or down... no argument there.
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jfitzpatrick wrote:
Your closing thought is actually the driving force behind the behavior of most of humanity.


There was a test once, I'll dig up the peer reviewed papers at some point, but I think it was mentioned in the book "Freakonomics".
Test in a lab. 2 people that done' know each other come in. A total of $100 is distributed to the both of them. The FIRST person decides how much he/she gets, and the rest is for the second person. The SECOND person decides if they have a deal. If the second one line-item-vetoes the deal, noone sees a cent.
Turns out that if the second person feels slighted, he/she is always more inclined to let none get anything, rather than getting "slighted". there was some more finesse with actual numbers, but the core point is that instead of having 10 free lunches, humans in general prefer to have no free lunches if they see their contemporaries getting 100 free lunches at the same time. Thus, we suffer.
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DenverWolf wrote:
While I think you have some good points here and I generally agree, I doubt very much that the "secret formula" would be so skewed as to "...push a game hundreds of places up or down." I really think everyone would have noticed that by now. Granted it might be pushing games 3, 5, or 10 (for example) up or down... no argument there.

Well, we don't know what we don't know. The discrepancy we're seeing is not consistent with what has been said about the geek rating. We're told (in the wiki) that some number of 5.5 votes are added. No number of 5.5 votes, if they're added equally to the two games, can produce the results we're seeing. Nothing should be able to push a game with fewer votes over a game with a higher average rating. So, some other factor, possibly due to a bug, is in the ratings. How can we know how significant it is?
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you are calculating the Bayesian average, I presume?
 
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Tall_Walt wrote:
DenverWolf wrote:
While I think you have some good points here and I generally agree, I doubt very much that the "secret formula" would be so skewed as to "...push a game hundreds of places up or down." I really think everyone would have noticed that by now. Granted it might be pushing games 3, 5, or 10 (for example) up or down... no argument there.

Well, we don't know what we don't know. The discrepancy we're seeing is not consistent with what has been said about the geek rating. We're told (in the wiki) that some number of 5.5 votes are added. No number of 5.5 votes, if they're added equally to the two games, can produce the results we're seeing. Nothing should be able to push a game with fewer votes over a game with a higher average rating. So, some other factor, possibly due to a bug, is in the ratings. How can we know how significant it is?


Possibly due to a bug?? Or, it could just be that your paranoia is making you paranoid. Leaving aside for the moment what seems to be on your part a misunderstanding of how Bayesian averages work, let's just get it out in the open: what possible (reasonable) motives would the admins/owners of this site have for systematically manipulating the ratings? Just to cackle at us from behind their cigar smoke?
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Tall_Walt wrote:

Well, we don't know what we don't know. The discrepancy we're seeing is not consistent with what has been said about the geek rating. We're told (in the wiki) that some number of 5.5 votes are added. No number of 5.5 votes, if they're added equally to the two games, can produce the results we're seeing. Nothing should be able to push a game with fewer votes over a game with a higher average rating. So, some other factor, possibly due to a bug, is in the ratings. How can we know how significant it is?


Walt, you're forgetting the shill-vote deprecation. In addition to the adding of "average" ratings, there is also an algorithm that removes ratings that are determined to be "shilled" from the calculations.

We know basically nothing about how that algorithm works, aside from assurances from Aldie and Co. that if we rate normally, we have nothing to fear from the algorithm. And given the number that the community did on Space Hulk, it would seem to be true. ;)

Also, remember that as the average site-wide rating slowly shifts up or down, the value of the "Bayesian" votes also shifts, which can also slightly affect the final ratings.
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TVis wrote:
I have come to believe that this is really a cry of suffering from a populace that can't stand the thought that someone else is getting more pleasure than they themselves are.

This doesn't ring true for me at all, personally. Freakonomics notwithstanding. I must be weird.
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Kirk Wilson
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I think it lies in the fact that many people feel very strongly that one or the other is not a good game at all and does not deserve the ranking. Myself, I do not like Agricola and do not think it is deserving of its ranking , but I have heard many people espouse the same of Puerto Rico. Just my $.02

TVis wrote:
There are two prominent candidates currently swapping the top position and readers of this thread are more than likely aware (even painfully aware) of a certain amount of thread turmoil whenever they make the exchange.

Some posts express a level of outrage and confusion at the switch. Others express dismay and confusion regarding the outrage.

Since almost anything I am personally interested does not even fall into the top 20, it may have taken me longer to understand the underlying cause of the turmoil than it should have.

So here it is.

The ranking is based on the rating. The rating definitions are based not on exprssions of quality, but rather on expressions of pleasure. Thus, when one candidate is demoted then much is heard from the losing side at the loss of status. I have come to believe that this is really a cry of suffering from a populace that can't stand the thought that someone else is getting more pleasure than they themselves are.

 
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Well, we don't know what we don't know.

This reminds me of a famous poem:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
While I agree that what you suggest can be a motivating factor, I don't think that's the primary cause here. Here are the stats currently:

Geek Average
Rating Rating Votes
Agricola (2007) 8.21 8.28 13699
Puerto Rico (2002) 8.21 8.30 19093


We've been told that some secret fixed number and value of anti-shill votes are added to every game. But if that were the case, a game with an average rating and more votes would have to have a geek rating higher than a game with a lower rating. In other words, Puerto Rico would have to rate above Agricola, and should have steadily been in that position for months.


Er, maybe the primary cause is people being horribly misinformed about how things work but then talking as if they know what's going on.

I'm not sure whether explaining it to you will help, but I will give you that opportunity.

There are a bunch of votes. These votes are averaged together to produce an average rating. (Example: for Puerto Rico, 8.30 according to you.)

Then there are some number of dummy average votes. These are averaged in to the average rating. The purpose of the dummy votes is to smooth out the random high variance for games with a low number of votes. The idea is that our best guess at what people will end up rating the game starts at totally average, and only changes a bit as people start rating it. For example, if a game has only one rating, a 10, then we don't just say "oh, it's a 10". We say "well, we only know what one person thought, but they liked it. Our best guess is that it's slightly better than average." The overall result of the dummy votes is that games with fewer votes have their rating pulled more towards the average rating.

Finally there is removal of likely shill votes. They are simply secretly ignored. Unfortunately but obviously, this has to stay secret or it can't work. For example, maybe the algorithm is "ignore votes by voters where more than half their votes are 1s or 10s". (Doing this is very likely to make the resulting average more useful, don't you think?) But if you tell people this, then all the people who care about manipulating the rankings will just rate a bunch of random games 7 and your algorithm won't work anymore.
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SevenSpirits wrote:
I'm not sure whether explaining it to you will help, but I will give you that opportunity.

This is exactly how I understand it to work, except Octavian has said the anti-shilling (as distinct from the dummy votes) is a thing of the past. If so, Agricola's rating should be pulled down more by the dummy 5.5 votes than PR, and PR should be #1. If you use the Bayesian formula in Wikipedia, same thing for any positive value of C. (The only difference is that instead of 5.5 a mean is calculated. Since these are suppose to be the top-rated games, it doesn't matter if the dummy votes are 5.5 or 6.5 or anything under their actual ratings. And we know the dummy votes are under the actual ratings because the raw vote averages are always under the geek ratings--well, I haven't checked low-rated games to see if they're being pulled up.)


Regarding paranoia and bugs, bugs are inherently out to get programmers or they wouldn't be bugs, they'd be features. You're not paranoid if they are out to get you.


Some of you are reading this as if I'm really invested in PR. I see how you could get that impression from my game comments, but you confuse me with someone who cares about 'Gric. I am a systems architect, so I am concerned with bugs. I've spent decades stomping bugs, and it's pretty lower-brain, reflexive by now. That's my interest. If this is a bug--and I can't see any explanation of why it isn't--I want it stomped.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Octavian has said the anti-shilling (as distinct from the dummy votes) is a thing of the past.

Seriously? Is there a link to this statement? I find it surprising!
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Neither of those games deserve to be in the top 2.
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russ wrote:
Tall_Walt wrote:
Octavian has said the anti-shilling (as distinct from the dummy votes) is a thing of the past.

Seriously? Is there a link to this statement? I find it surprising!

If Google site search is working (and sometimes it doesn't), I think I over-interpreted "For the love of god... STOP MESSING WITH THE RATINGS" as revoking "Game Rank Bug?"

Still, I find your lack of faith--the apparent bugginess of ratings--disturbing.

First, there are other role selection games (Citadels...) and hugely more economic game than Puerto Rico (and hugely more worker placement games than 'Gric, including Caylus, which is arguably the first modern, explicit worker placement game, though PR can be played worker-placement-style and there's B-17: Queen of the Skies). Given that, I find a lower ranked game like Liar's Dice (Bluff) as far more irreplaceable in my gaming bag than PR.

But second, it would be nice to be able to depend on BGG ratings. It would be nice if they didn't vibrate from one order to the other quite so fast. Maybe some kind of "inertia" needs to be put into the system to make it appear more stable. Perhaps a new game should be required to break the average rating of a rated game and the Bayesian Average, and then stay higher rated until another game actually breaks the average rating of the second game. In this case, if 'Gric Bayesian average and raw average both broke through PR's, it would be number one. At the point both fell through PR's, PR would resume #1, and 'Gric could not regain that position until the raw average went about PR's. That would provide some "hysteresis" to the ratings. It would seriously discourage attempts at ratings manipulation because the ratings could not move quickly, except between equally played games.

Or, hey, let's all play Hansa Teutonica and Industria/Industry and forget about it!
 
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Tall_Walt wrote:

If Google site search is working (and sometimes it doesn't), I think I over-interpreted "For the love of god... STOP MESSING WITH THE RATINGS" as revoking "Game Rank Bug?"


Yeah, that was referring to an incident where, I gather, there were specific accounts that were being used to counter the ratings of particular users, hence the "anti_*" format. That issue is different than the normal shill-rating deprecation, which AFAIK, is still in place.

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jfitzpatrick wrote:


People complain that sex outside of marriage is immoral and we should condemn people who do it. (They're having more fun than me!)

People complain that some couple in their neighborhood is too affectionate and that it's inappropriate to display love so visibly. (They're having more fun and happier than me!)

People can be quite a bunch of nosy and self-centered jerks.



Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
H. L. Mencken
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fnord23 wrote:
I gather, there were specific accounts that were being used to counter the ratings of particular users, hence the "anti_*" format. That issue is different than the normal shill-rating deprecation, which AFAIK, is still in place.

Yes, the Bayesian or 5.5 dummy votes are definitely still in place: Averages are lower the geek ratings.
 
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