Re: Not that it's going to affect anything I do.

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Whether an activity counts as cheating or not depends on what it's for. If it's an unfair way to do better on a test then your level of understanding would merit, then it's cheating. If it's an unfair way to attempt to become famous or to acquire a reputation for original thought, then it's cheating. If you're just trying to save time for the sake of the education of others, and you don't gain any sort of unfair advantage, then it's ok.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:18 AM
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Good answer! Thread over.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:21 AM
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Turn yourself in. Take a toothbrush, you're going to do serious time.

Honestly, I can't believe anybody posts such things to the web in the expectation of making money from them, which would be the only reason not to use them. Maybe you should pass it forward by uploading a few good questions of your own.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:25 AM
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Honestly, I can't believe anybody posts such things to the web in the expectation of making money from them,

I started out reading this as though you were chastising me for this post in particular, and got defensive for a sec. Then I decided to keep reading.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:27 AM
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4: Never read to end of the comment.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:30 AM
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No guilt at all. I file briefs all the time that are mostly someone else's work from a couple of years back. Plagiarism is a concept that makes sense (a) when there's a meaningful sense in which you're actually infringing someone's copyright, which doesn't apply here, or (b) where you're taking credit for purportedly original work, in a context where that means something -- not a math test.

If you still feel twingy, though, you could put a credit line on the actual test: if the kids don't see it until they're taking the test, it won't do any harm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:39 AM
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I heard the Terry Tao was going to be given the Abel prize to hang alongside his Fields medal till the committee found out he stole the sixth question on the 245A final from a blog commenter's question. It showed a lack of original, which is one of the main criteria for the prize y'know. So you might want to consider that.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:50 AM
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I, however, am always original in my typos.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:51 AM
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But for the level of math classes that you're teaching, there isn't really much of anything new under the sun, is there? Sorta relatedly, when I took a Shakespeare class my freshman year in college, the professor announced on the first day that: "There will be no papers in this class. Nearly everything that can possibly be written about Shakespeare has already been written, and what there is left to write will certainly not emerge from an English 59 class. I am a very busy man and I have neither the time nor the desire to evaluate how well you have dusted off somebody else's argument from the 16th century, or the 17th century, or the 18th century, or the 19th century, or this one."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:00 AM
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9. I thought the point was to evaluate whether you'd bothered to turn up to his classes.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:04 AM
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"I am a very busy man and I have neither the time nor the desire to evaluate teach"


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:05 AM
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I do this in my logic courses. Sometimes I give a citation on the test--after all, they aren't going to be able to look up the source there in the classroom while they are taking the test. Sometimes I don't bother, though, because the people who are reading don't particularly care.

I do, however, keep track of where I got questions from in the question database I use to generate my tests. Mostly I do this for my own sake, so I don't trick myself into thinking I came up with the question and then use it in some place where it would matter.

This topic came up in in a recent discussion I had about creating free online textbooks. The question was whether your free online textbook could contain problems taken from other textbooks as long as the citation was properly given. The person I was talking to said that it probably was ok, but just to be on the safe side, he had his teaching assistant write up all new questions.

This solution did not work for me.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:06 AM
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Was Shakespeare Catholic?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:10 AM
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He turned out to be an excellent teacher (and recognized as such). The class was heavy on discussion.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:10 AM
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Some jag who didn't feel like correcting homework put all of the answers (translations of passages and practice sentences) to a very standard Latin textbook online. I mean, it really is fine if you want to use the practice sentences that way, but keep that on Blackboard (behind a password). I had students translating beautifully in class who couldn't parse a word.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:11 AM
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9: I find that take on things maddening. For me, the point of writing papers in an undergrad lit course isn't that students come up with some new argument, but rather that they learn what it means to make a claim about a literary text. What sorts of questions to ask, how to delve into the way the text functions, how to give textual evidence for their claims, etc.

Students will often hear from profs that their thesis statement should be "something new." Grrr! Way to paralyze a student who already has no idea how to formulate a thesis about a literary text.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:22 AM
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I agree completely with 16.

Perhaps, this is the beauty of the law.

For the most part, you want to avoid doing something new. Most of what we do involves saying "LOOK! I'm just copying from someone else!"

A student shouldnt feel like they have to write something incredibly original.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:25 AM
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16 is spot on.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:27 AM
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I should say, this isn't to slam on that prof's class-- you could possibly achieve all of those goals with intensive class discussion as well.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:34 AM
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You mean I wasn't the first person to think that the big white whale represented something meta-cetacean?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:41 AM
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||

Hey, could I get a quick read from the Mineshaft on doing a Bay Area meetup next weekend (Saturday the 18th or Sunday the 19th?)? I'm roadtripping from MSP starting Tuesday the 14th with a buddy, and it would be fun to socialize a bit before I have to hunker down at the new job on Tuesday the 21st in Santa Rosa.

Maybe this could go up on the front page?

|>


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:41 AM
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21: W00t! I'm free either day (although Saturday's probably better).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:43 AM
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you could possibly achieve all of those goals with intensive class discussion as well

Possibly -- but I still think it's important to learn how to do that in writing; one makes a written argument in a very different way from an oral one drawn in the give and take of conversation. (And of course all the students love the guy who never assigns papers!)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:48 AM
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Student love him, for a while. Forget to wear pants just one day....


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:49 AM
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re: 23

Yeah, I think that's true, although one tutor I had used to sometimes use very non-standard forms for written assignments which broke people free a little from the normal:


introduction: I plan to discuss A, B and C
Since time immemorial, people have thought about $stuff. Views on stuff include A, B and C.
Look! A.
Surprise! B.
Oh teh noes! C.
A versus B versus C.
In conclusion, A with a bit of B but some people think C.

So he used to set papers with absurdly low word limits, for example. I remember one that was, if I recall, 150 or 200 words.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:59 AM
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||

Ah, Florida! If they're not burning a Koran, they're engaging in another bit of senseless destruction:

The lockdown was lifted after the pony was blown up.

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:15 AM
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A tutor at my dad's university used to set the exam questions from "1066 And All That" as essay titles. Things like "Was James I a) a Good Thing b) a Good King? Discuss".
Tragically, not "How far did the Lords Repellent drive Henry III into the arms of Pedro the Cruel? (Protractors may not be used)" or "How would you attempt to deal with a) an Eisteddfod b) the Venomous Bede c) a Mabinogion or Wapentake? (Be quick.)"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:16 AM
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27. I can imagine "Why do you picture John of Gaunt as a rather emaciated grandee?" in a psycholinguistics paper.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:33 AM
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Re: the original post, it does seem a bit like plagiarism, but I think it would be easier to cite your sources in a non-self-defeating way than you apparently do. Just slip a line in the middle of the syllabus that says something like, "In preparing class materials I have also used works by Saul Kripke, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper* in addition to what we will be discussing directly in class." In the unlikely event that students notice that citation and try to look them up, the information you've given them is so broad that they'd wind up learning the curriculum despite themselves just by looking for it.

Sure, that citation isn't sufficiently detailed for some peer-reviewed paper or even a student paper, but it would be more than enough in this context to salve my conscience, were I you. And if I'm wrong and giving even that much of a citation would be self-defeating like you say, well, just remember the first half-dozen comments here.

* Yes, I know these guys aren't in the field Heebie is teaching and probably didn't even write much of the kind of thing she's quoting, but anyways.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:43 AM
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26 is eight kinds of crazy.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 10:03 AM
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I fear the nursery school kids, even bearing gifts.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 10:08 AM
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14:

Christopher Mead Armitage, who joined the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty in 1967, specializes in seventeenth- and twentieth-century English and Canadian literature.

Seventeenth-century Canadian literature must be quite the niche field.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 10:40 AM
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You mean I wasn't the first person to think that the big white whale represented something meta-cetacean?

It certainly was a whale of a whale.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 10:41 AM
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26 is better than the final scene in Bad Santa.

Seriously, that cheered me waaaaay the hell up, and I was just getting all down on dumped self again.

Awesome.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 11:35 AM
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they aren't going to be able to look up the source there in the classroom while they are taking the test

The thought hadn't even crossed my mind until reading this, but is smartphone cheating a problem in classrooms nowadays?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 11:54 AM
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35: I bet it's a huge problem in certain areas. In my classes, not much.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 12:03 PM
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35: If they are so smart they shouldn't have to cheat.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 12:06 PM
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When I bought "1066 and All That" the clerk at the bookstore audibly groaned.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 1:30 PM
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I'm also up for a BAM. Free either day, but would prefer not before 1PM if on Sunday.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 2:14 PM
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Sweet. Two so far. I have a bias upwards meeting at a bar Saturday evening. I'll be staying at a hotel, so if we can pick a location I can make a reservation at a hotel nearby and not worry about driving. Recommendations/nominations?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 4:21 PM
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26: Holy shitfuck America--in tears again (@~1:00 of the video, watch it). I'm getting too easy in my old age.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Orlando, "See Johnny, that's why we can't have nice toys."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 4:24 PM
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40: The Trappist is close by a couple of hotels. Most anyplace else we go with a bar walking distance from a hotel is going to be in The City (and thus more expensive).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 4:30 PM
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26 is a perfect summation of America today. Well, maybe not perfect—it could have used an Islamic symbol in there somewhere. I have to admit, though, that I fantasize about doing that to most of the crap people give my daughters.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 4:45 PM
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Hey, here's a description of the outfit for which Ms. Palin will be raising funds here this weekend. Sunday afternoon. Unaccoutably, she's not coming on Saturday.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 4:58 PM
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The Trappist sounds good to me. My inner beer snob has recently reemerged. It'll be fun to try some of the local stuff.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 5:40 PM
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My inner beer snob has recently reemerged.

You just puked?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 5:48 PM
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No, I've just been so satisfied with a couple go-to beers that I wasn't exploring anymore. Then, the last couple of years of unemployment have left me unwilling to risk wasting some of my limited alcohol budget on a beer I didn't like. As we worried about UI benefits running out and lived without air conditioning this summer, I even wound up drinking Miller High Life and Bud Light--which, well...they're not bad if you've just mowed the lawn in 90 degree heat, but that's about all I can say for 'em.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 6:24 PM
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47: My neighbors and I have decided to stretch our alcohol budget by brewing. We start this weekend. Also, Chopper (congrats on the job, BTW), I think you can get Ninkasi where you are now—check it out.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 6:31 PM
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Cool, the Trappist looks to be relatively convenient for me.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 6:45 PM
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The oddest thing about that bar is the menu, which is in a velcro-sealed three-ring binder known as a Trappist Keepist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:50 PM
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Stanley is just incorrigible, isn't he?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 7:59 PM
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Is that a totally obscure corrugated cardboard pun or are you just being honest, teo?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:08 PM
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Wordplay is the opiate of the bourgeois. At least, the portion of the bourgeois that doesn't have a cool doctor who gives them actual opiates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:09 PM
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Don't incorrige him, bro.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:10 PM
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Personally, I'd have gone for a joke about the sound level in the bar. I suppose sexing Mutombo would work too.

I have had Trappist fruitcake but never the bourbon fudge.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:10 PM
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Just being honest.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:13 PM
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Though I did briefly consider trying to make a cardboard pun before deciding it was too much effort.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:14 PM
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I'm trying to wade through The Thread That Shall Not Be Named* and needed a moment of silliness and levity. SORRY, TEO.

*because I know how to spend a Friday night!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:15 PM
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Every Christmas, I get Trappist-made caramel candy from an uncle. It is delicious.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:20 PM
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Stanley, regale us more tales of Stanleigh the New Barista! If she plays the kazoo and lives in the attic or some Tea Partier relative's McMansion, that should be a dead giveaway that you're being played.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:21 PM
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Hey, it's no problem for me, Stan. You may have to answer to Megan, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:21 PM
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60: She's got a bunch of environmental stickers on her car (er, what I assume was her car, based on the coffeehouse sticker and the lack of other cars in the lot). She might like Phish or harbor some other dark secret, but I think we're free and clear of any McCain cheerleading this time around.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:26 PM
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62: But what about limericks?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:28 PM
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61: Pish posh, Megan's clear across the continent; I shall pun with abandon. (No. Seriously. I have one on right now.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:28 PM
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63: Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Stormcrow.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:29 PM
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Who's this barista now?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:32 PM
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And is she grande.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:33 PM
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. ?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:34 PM
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66: Mentioned here.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:34 PM
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I see.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 8:35 PM
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12

This topic came up in in a recent discussion I had about creating free online textbooks. The question was whether your free online textbook could contain problems taken from other textbooks as long as the citation was properly given. The person I was talking to said that it probably was ok, but just to be on the safe side, he had his teaching assistant write up all new questions.

IANAL but I believe copying problems word for word would be a copyright violation. However copyright just protects the expression of an idea not the idea itself so putting the problem in your own words (and possibly changing unimportant details like arbitrary numerical values) should be ok. Or you could take problems from a book that is out of copyright.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:03 PM
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To keep this thread from being re-railed into a discussion of copyright law, I'll mention that earlier this evening the cute girl who sat next to me in one of my classes yesterday apparently checked out my OkCupid profile. So that was interesting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:20 PM
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Yay, teo!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:21 PM
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Teo's comments lately are like the Penthouse Forum column in Highlights for Children. It's great.

"Dear Penthouse Forum, I never thought this would happen to me, but I met a really terrific girl and she actually seems pretty interested in me, so I think things are looking promising."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:23 PM
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Since I don't comment here very often anymore, I figure I should focus on the types of comments that people like most.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:28 PM
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A commendable policy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:31 PM
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75: Since I'm still reading That Other Thread in occasional bursts, I read your 72 as a breath of fresh air. Huzzah!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-10-10 9:33 PM
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Stanley: why dont you bring the barista south of Dr.Ho's today?

teo: is okcupid the cool online dating service now? what are the differences?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 5:05 AM
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I'm going to use 74.1 elsewhere without attribution to Sifu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 7:12 AM
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is okcupid the cool online dating service now? what are the differences?

Pretty much, yeah, at least among my demographic. The main difference from other sites is that they have you answer questions and then use some fancy algorithm to match you up with other people. The output of the algorithm is expressed as percentages, which are supposed to represent the probability that you'll get along.

I'd say it's a pretty well-designed system as dating sites go. It's clearly run by people who really understand statistics, and they use the massive amounts of data at their disposal to do interesting experiments that they discuss on their blog, some of which we've discussed here before.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 9:12 AM
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It's clearly run by people who really understand statistics

Karl Pearson was very adept at making match-ups.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 9:14 AM
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Just ask Mrs. Pearson.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 9:28 AM
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She got upset at times, because he insisted his penis be called "P Value," but she stayed inside his 95% confidence interval.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 9:33 AM
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As I recall it was OKCupid that published a geographic view of some of their stats and which were subsequently discussed here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-10 9:34 AM
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