Oracle’s Elixir Update

I’ve been continuing to grow my involvement in analysis and reporting of professional League of Legends, both through my stats tracking on OraclesElixir.com and written articles at GoldPer10.com.

I’ve hit some pretty cool milestones along the way, like:

  • Having my work be featured on the Taiwanese league‘s broadcast
  • Being followed on Twitter by some pretty prominent figures
  • Having my site referenced in multiple articles by some top writers
  • Networking with a lot of great people

There are ups and downs along the way, but I’m having a lot of fun and doing some cool things. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next!

eSports Pundit

I’m a man of many hobbies, and lately I’ve been having some success writing about competitive League of Legends and reporting on pro player statistics.

I set up a blog called Oracle’s Elixir, a reference to an old item from the game, and I’ve been using it to share various stats that I’ve tracked and calculated for the North American League Championship Series. I’ve also written several long-form articles and posted them to other sites, including a self-publishing eSports platform called Goldper10.

So far my five best articles have totaled over 165,000 page views combined.

I’m having a lot of fun with this, and I want to start covering Europe next season as well, so we’ll how long the momentum keeps rolling!

The Winter of Our Discontent

I finished The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck recently and added it to Tier 2 of my Best Novels list, “Incredible Masterpieces”.

Like always, Steinbeck has crafted incredible characters and woven a story around them that makes their character exploration incredibly natural. He is the absolute epitomy of “show, don’t tell”.

That puts three Steinbeck novels in my first two tiers.

Man do I love Steinbeck.

50WS: Visitor Stats, 2014

I like stats. Here are some from 50WS in 2014.

Unique Visitors: 56,000+
Pageviews: 170,000+
Pages per Visit: 2.21
Time per Visit: 2:19

There were slightly fewer unique visitors than 2013, but more pageviews, more pages per visit, and longer average visits.

This tells me that there are more returning/regular readers now, which is great, and is more important than getting lots of brand new, one-time visitors.

Here’s to more growth in 2015!

50WS: Likes vs. Ratings

This week I made a pretty noticeable change to 50WS: I removed the ability to rate stories and replaced it with “Like” buttons. Why? Well, here’s my thought process on the subject.

Over the past few months, there was a clear trend on 50WS towards low star ratings. The best stories used to get 4.5 averages, but now most stories were sitting at 2.5 to 3.0,  with a few occasionally approaching 3.8 or 3.9. There were cases where a story that was doing quite well suddenly received a large number of low votes, driving its average way down for no apparent reason. So not only was there a lot of unexplained negativity, but there seemed to be some abuse of the system, too.

This got me thinking.

With star ratings, readers had three ways to express their opinions about a story. They could rate it, they could leave a comment, or they could share it using the Share buttons. Of the three, rating was the easiest and least personal, commenting was the most personal, and sharing was the most one-directional: you usually only share a story if you really like it.

I asked myself: what would we lose if we got rid of star ratings? Well, directional feedback on stories (saying it’s “good” vs. saying it’s “bad”) might take more effort, meaning some feedback would disappear. We would also lose a way of “comparing” stories to see which one the readers liked more.

How valuable are these things, and what differences does a Like button introduce?

Directional feedback can be useful. It’s good for a reader to be able to say when they liked a story, and it can be helpful to the author to get feedback on elements of a story that didn’t work so well. The positive side can be captured by a “Like” button, although we can’t distinguish between a 4 and a 5 anymore. As for the negative feedback, it’s much more useful to get an explanatory comment than a throwaway 1-star or 2-star rating: a comment benefits the author more.

As for comparing stories, I don’t publish any stories I personally consider 1-star or 2-star, and I don’t often look back at a story and feel it was a 3-star. I already filter out the less effective stories when I review the submissions. So all the stories on the site meet a certain standard. A poor star rating from the readers doesn’t really mean the story is bad, because I don’t believe I publish bad stories. As I said previously, we are losing the ability to compare 4s and 5s, but the best stories tend to earn positive comments, too, and those are a better measure of resonating with readers than a high rating is. We also have the Top Stories program to reward the really good stories (though I choose the winners myself, so ratings/likes don’t really determine that).

In the balance of things, I felt that moving to Likes instead of ratings had a lot more pros than cons. We now have a better measure of “popularity” and a system that’s less susceptible to abuse (it still allows for “positive abuse” if someone Likes a story several times from different IP addresses, but there isn’t as much harm in that as low-rating a story multiple times). Our positive feedback is maintained, and our negative feedback is improved.

I haven’t deleted the old star ratings from the site yet, and I will probably archive them for future reference, just in case, but I’m pretty happy with this change.

I’m willing to hear feedback from 50WS readers, though, so if you haven’t already chimed in on the announcement post on the site, let me know what you think.

I Thought it Was a Date

“Hold on. You think this is a date!?”

“Well… Isn’t it?” The evidence had seemed pretty clear to me up until about 10 seconds ago.

She huffed. “What gave you that impression?”

“I don’t know, it just kind of seemed like one. There were… signs.”

“You’re impossible.” She stood, snatched up her purse, and stormed off.

I sank into my chair and bemoaned my misfortune. Where had I gone wrong?

Reaching across the table, I took one of the offending objects and held it up to the approaching waiter. “What would you say this is?” I asked.

“That?” The waiter lifted an eyebrow quizzically. “That, sir, is an exceptionally large raisin.”

And that was how I parted ways with my fourth and final fruit tutor.