A few weeks ago I posted a survey for all Mgoblog users to take. First of all, THANK YOU to the 500 participants! You have immensely helped me out for a class, and hopefully you have helped to make Mgoblog a better online community. As many of you requested in the survey thread, below are the statistical results from the survey and a few insights from the essay responses.
Insights (based on feedback received from survey questions and essay responses):
The point system does not affect motivation to post on a large scale, but it does largely affect the content being posted. While many Mgoblog members appreciate the value of a point system, they believe that the members and moderators are incorrectly using it because of opinion-based voting (rather than content-based), inflated reputations due to over-posting (quantity, not quality) and the exploitation of such reputations. Based on this research, I would make the following recommendations to improve the Mgoblog online community:
- Stress quality (not opinion) based voting to the members. Make it clear to all members that “Upvoting” and “Downvoting” is for quality-based feedback only. All members should have the right to their opinions, and their value and reputation as a poster should not be jeopardized because of varying opinions.
- Continue to support the voting function, but eliminate points for posting. As a result, quality of posts will be stressed, rather than the quantity of posts.
- Set an automatic ban number for members that obtain a certain amount of negative points. This will guarantee that members of poor value and reputation will be excluded as soon as possible.
- If/when these changes (or similar) are enacted, return all posters’ points to 0. This should be done so true reputations can be built within the better system of moderation.
The last "fun" question was meant to judge the Mgoblog community's confidence of win percentage for the upcoming season.
The Mgoblog community expects Michigan to lose to Iowa (close one), Nebraska, and Ohio State, finishing with a record of 9-3. Our most likely loss, according to the amount of votes, is Nebraska.
Thanks again to all participants, and GO BLUE!
I use to really enjoy clicking on that link at the bottom of the page to see what the site's traffic looked like and during which events or days it spiked. I remember the Jihad was a particularly busy time around here.
I can't find that link anymore. Was it removed, moved, or can I just not find it? Is there another reliable website to look at website traffic trends and what not? It would be great to see how popular this site is with all the early season success so far.
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MATHLETE
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Math. Nemesis to many, and friend to so very few. Some of us get it, and the rest of us use it only when we absolutely have to, like a plunger or Mucinex (ed: nasty stuff). When it comes to MGoBlog, we all know that the resident expert is Mathlete, who seemingly can use statistical information to prove everything from what players are more valuable than others to which Sparty player is most likely to next act with felonious intent. His posts are well-written, tirelessly researched, and busting
at the seams with factual analysis and conclusions. And yet, despite all that
number-crunching, he was still gracious enough to sit down with us
for this exclusive MGoProfile interview:
1. Mathlete, known far and wide as the only man capable of making numbers sing “Hail to the Victors.” Few login names fit their owners as well as yours. Were you, or are you, a competitive mathlete? Is there a story behind the selection of your name?
Growing up, my dad was a math teacher and a coach so I always had a strong mix of math and sports in my life. Sports were always the thing I wanted to be good at and wasn't, where academic competitions were the thing I was good at but mostly embarrassed of. When I first registered at mgoblog, I originally was going to pick an obscure reference from The Wire (Always, Boris) but at the last minute decided to embrace a more accurate name and attempt to embrace the title that had
created so much teenage angst.
Ahh, yes—surely the most famous type of angst has to be the teenage variety. And if it makes any difference, I think if you had any other login name it’d simply be wrong.
2. Your posts are legendary for their vast raw data, their accuracy, and their ability to recognize facts where others simply see coincidence. Do you live in a black-and-white world? How do you see life differently from others?
My interest in numbers actually has the opposite effect on me. We ultimately measure the results of things in black and white, but when I look forward, I am always viewing things in terms of probabilities. If the numbers say Michigan is better than their opponent, I don't see that as a guaranteed victory, I want to understand how much better Michigan is and what their probability of winning would be. I think is what separates me from most other people. Our brains our wired to eliminate complexity so often times we look at results and the then identify the reasons that the result had to have happened, when in reality, there were probabilities associated with a number of outcomes and a lot more luck and randomness than we are comfortable with contributed to the specific result. Over the long run, these variances will usually
cancel themselves out, but they can wreak havoc on smaller time frames.
3. Some of your pieces take significant amounts of time (not to mention brain power) just to read-- How long does it take to put together a solid, statistically accurate post from concept to completion?
That's a really tough one to answer because I often have a hard time focusing so it’s often done over multiple sessions. Usually I have a couple of ideas kicking around in my head and once I get one I think I can go with, I start writing. Usually as I start writing with one key chart, table of conclusion but as I go I get a clearer picture of the hard data that is going to be needed to build the case. Once I do get going it moves pretty quickly and I am terrible at proofreading my work, so once the last sentence is penned
I tend to just hit publish and live with dumb errors!
We’re all guilty of that. I’ve always been impressed not only by your talent for gathering and analyzing large amounts of information, but also your ability to present it in a way that the common reader can understand. Is that a challenge? Or, should I say, how much do you hold back to keep it accessible for the masses?
My goal is to provide something that is as accessible as traditional stats but more valuable. Sometimes it’s difficult to bring it around, but I am still approaching it all
as a football fan first.
4. Sports and statistics have always gone together like maize and blue. Why is that? Why do we, as fans, enjoy rattling off numbers as much as watching the games themselves?
The numbers help tell the story of what we just saw, they affirm and shape our feelings about our favorite players and teams, they expand the experience. They give us a connection to our teams in between games. Since I started doing The Mathlete work, one of my favorite times of the week is after all the games have been played and all the play by plays are available. Going through game by game and adding them into my database and then seeing what comes out. Whose performance was better than I thought and who seemed to do well but didn't show up in the numbers.
5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you work with numbers. But, without divulging too much information, can you describe what sort of field you’re involved in? And what do you like to do when you’re on your own time?
Believe it or not I do work with numbers for a living. For the most part I do demand planning and a production scheduling for a large corporation. In other words, I sold out to the man.
Most of my spare time is spent with my family. I have an 18 month old son who I am convinced is going to be the next Jake Long. Mrs. Mathlete isn't too keen on "offensive lineman" as my dream for our son, but she'll come around.
Aside from family, my life is generally sports related. Playing basketball, watching whatever sport is in season and thinking of new ways to analyze, predict or understand sports takes up enough of my time. I am working on getting a full-blown website up and running before football season starts so that I can make more information available but right now all I have is themathlete.com and absolutely no content.
Show your wife Jake Long's paycheck-- She'll come around. Describe the perfect meal.
My grandma used to make a dish called porkies. They had a ridiculous name and were never the most appetizing things to look at, but man were they good. How can you go wrong with what is essentially a giant meatball made of ham and sausage covered in a sauce that is 90% brown sugar. Add in some homemade mashed potatoes (no gravy) and you are likely to find me on the couch for the rest of the day watching football and regretting how much I ate while contemplating going back for more.
6. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I probably came by my Michigan fandom in a very different manner than most at MgoBlog. I grew up in Kansas with absolutely no connection to the state of Michigan. I think the only reason they came to be my favorite school is because growing up they were on TV more than anyone else other than Notre Dame and my dad hated the Irish, so I picked Michigan. The first time I remember cheering for them as "My Team" was in ‘91 with Desmond Howard. The next year saw the arrival of the Fab Five and I was hooked. I got accepted to Michigan for grad studies in Operations Research but a series of events led to it not happening. I am ashamed to admit I have never
attended a Michigan game live.
I was a fan for many years before finally making it out to my first game. I might argue that it meant more than a local’s first game, because of the pilgrimage, ‘Bucket List’-esque nature of the whole experience. When you do get up, it’ll be a life-changing trip. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
It's not technically a player, but it would have to be the Fab Five. I had the book, I had a drawer full of the hideous black Nike socks, it didn't get any cooler than the Fab Five. My favorite Wolverine football player is probably Braylon Edwards if for no other reason than the damage I could do with him on NCAA Football.
Being a creative person both by profession and personality, I deal with abstract thoughts and ideas. My boundaries are only defined by the limits of imagination, and my work is grounded more by production details and budget than logic or validity. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated by the results of Mathlete, and others like him who pour over numerical information to find the truth. Statistics are just raw data. It takes someone with a specific process of thought to manifest those numbers into concrete information that can prove one argument or disprove another. I, or anyone, can make ridiculous claims about a football team without any degree of accountability —the entire field of sports radio is built on this convenient truth— but a guy like Mathlete can take a box score and, with a fair degree of research, a certain level of intelligence, and a little bit of math, turn that raw information into indisputable fact. Unlike politicians, New Jersey women, and Michael Rosenberg… numbers do not lie.
See you guys next week for another edition of MGoProfile!
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH THE SHREDDER
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this new weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Since the dawn of Man, the artist has played a pivotal role in society, serving to preserve culture, inspire the masses, and express the human condition. Every great civilization has had its aesthetic authorities, and MGoBlog is no different. Call it art, call it satire, call it pure Colombian awesome—but whatever you prefer, it’s hard to argue that Shredder’s creations have become some of the most memorable and hilarious sights ever to grace our Blog. It is my pleasure to present
this interview with the one and only Shredder:
1. I think I have a vague recollection of when you first starting posting, and also when “The Shredder’ truly became ‘The Shredder.’ How did you discover MGoBlog, and how long were you a member before finding your calling and developing your signature ‘Midnight Maize’ style?
Well as much as I don’t want to admit this, I had a melt down and went off on UMGOBLUE board right after the 2005 Alamo Bowl when Tyler Ecker didn’t pitch it back to Steven Breaston. He instead opted for the human bull dozer lunge and went out of bounds at the 15 yard line. I mean, cmon, Steve was right there! Alright I won’t get into it. It’s still a touchy subject for me. As a result of my verbal beatings on Ecker I was banned from UMGOBLUE board. I was forumless and had no where to go. As I wandered the internet streets aimlessly looking for a home, I stumbled upon The Mother Ship (My term for Mgoblog) August 29th, 2006 at 6:00 PM when Brian said:
“A late turnover and constant buggering at the hands of incompetent Sun Belt refs are almost overcome by the most improbable play since Stanford-Cal, but Tyler Ecker plows into two defenders instead of pitching it to Steve Freakin' Breaston.”
When I read “Steve Freakin’ Breaston” I knew I was home. At first, I did my fair share of lurking. Finally in August of 2009, I decided to join up. I posted a bit here and there but not much. Then the board became nuts over the huge jumbo HD video screens that lived in SEC country. Everyone was wondering when Michigan would get theirs. I became sick of it and MS Painted the Big House in the year 2025. In all honesty, I expected to be ran off the board for such a crappy outrageous picture but to my delight, it was the exact opposite and my rendition of the Big House Year 2025 became two plus pages of replies and even made it on the front page. Thus, the Shredder rose from the ashes to become the villain that he is today. If you look at that paint you will see how bad it is compared to others but it still seems to be a favorite for some. I have since went on to start Midnight Maize so I could get paid to live blog and have a place to post the art that doesn’t always make it to Mgoblog. I have no doubt that I have Mgoblog to thank for the launching pad.
The Shredder. Eastman and Laird’s pre-eminent villain for the Heroes on the Half-Shell. Of all the possibilities, why did you choose him above all else as your name and avatar on MGoBlog?
I feel like at Mgoblog there are so many great posters, so I needed to find a way to stand out from the crowd. I wanted a name that no one would forget. I didn’t want to be “goblue1982” or “wegotwings.” I wanted something iconic, something that was fierce and had no mercy. My love for movies, video games, comic books and all kinds of media runs pretty deep (if you can’t tell).
I was pretty close to going with the Cobra Kai master John Crease but then it donned on me that my avatar wouldn’t be that great. I mean sure he looks bad ass but mixing some Michigan elements into it would be tough. I was running through all my favorite movies and comics. My roommate happened to buy me TMNT season one for my birthday that last winter. While looking through my dvds for an idea, I saw that dvd set. I popped in the dvd and The Shredder spoke to me through the TV. Alright, he didn’t literally speak to me, but I realized that he a villain I always had loved as a kid and some one that no one could mistake for anyone else. Another plus is that his helmet looked like the wings from the Michigan helmet. It was a perfect marriage.
2. Tell us about your creative process. How does a typical Shredder piece evolve from an idea to a front page bump?
Most of my ideas just come from pop culture. I just try and think how I can blend some sort of pop culture with what’s going on at Michigan. I always just make a quick scribble of it on paper or if I have my laptop I’ll do a quick “sketch” in MS paint. Some of my ideas have come to me when I least expect them to. For instance, I was at a Game Stop right after the Notre Dame game. I was looking at the new Punch Out game and I thought King Hippo and Charlie Weiss had a lot in common as well as Little Mac and Tate Forcier. When I got home I found the perfect picture on the internet and started to go to work. When it’s done and if I feel its good enough, I will post it on the Mgoboard. However, there are many things I have MS painted that don’t make it to the board, and they usually just stay on my laptop or get uploaded to Midnight Maize only. I felt the jerseys were a Midnight Maize only post and then I figured what the hell. So you just never know what people will respond to. Some people might love something I find not that great and vice versa.
I can totally relate—I was surprised during my MGoShirt series how difficult it was to predict audience reaction. Some of my favorite designs were eaten alive, and others that I personally less enthralled by are now sitting in the store. But art, and especially graphic design, is funny like that. Audience has the last laugh.
3. Your work has a tongue-in-cheek quality that is often more about the humor than the art itself. But you’re not fooling me-- as a professional, I can personally see that you put serious time into some of your designs. What was the single most difficult Shredder MS Paint piece to create? And of them all, which is your personal favorite? (Personally, I have to go with the Buckeye OSUbusters.)
Yes, you are right about the time I put into some of them. There are some that I have whipped together in 15 minutes, but there are have been a couple that have taken me a few nights to complete. My hardest one was “The Game Wars." I did five MS paints, one for everyday of the week, during OSU week. I worked on all of them throughout the season but that one took the cake for the most work. It took me a good week and I used another… well I won’t dive into all my secrets but lets just say I needed a bit more muscle to pull off what I was trying to depict. Armando Allen's foot was one that took me no time to complete. I thought nothing big of the quick paint but it ended up on nymag.com in the sports section. You just don’t know where the humor or the art may take you.
As for my favorites, well that is tough. It’s like asking what kid you love the most. I like certain ones for all kinds of different reasons. I love the Punch Out ones because I think they may be some of the best stuff I have done as far as looking professional and not hokey. They also ended up on Adam Rittenberg’s ESPN blog so that was an honor in its own right. I even like the SS Troy which has little to do with Michigan and more to do with USC. People really got a kick out of the Seahawkcopter which by itself took longer to complete than the actual artwork as a whole. The Ghostbusters and my Denard Back to the Future pieces have been favs of mine since those are some of my favorite movies. Another favorite of mine would be “Fetuatitus,” the only MS Paint work that got banned on Mgoboard due to people thinking it was a real medical condition that Tate Forcier had on his wrist. One medical student even posted how dumb he felt since he was googling the internet for “Fetuatitus” and found nothing. I guess a large picture of Tate Forcier with a fetus coming off his wrist and riding Falcor from Never Ending Story can be more impactful than I thought.
All right. Let’s get one point out of the way. It’s no secret that (ahem) some personalities (ahem, excuse me, something in my throat) have been critical not of your art, but rather your choice of medium as an artist. Why MS Paint? Some have argued that your stuff is so cool because it’s made in simplistic style of MS Paint, but I think your work is primarily about good ideas first and visual style second. Any thoughts?
My paints are more about what they say rather than how they look. MS Paint makes things so easy and simple. Even if I am slightly limited by it, MS Paint just has this “soul” to it. It expresses me exactly how I see my artistic self…. As a “wannabe”. My mom has the talent and my Grandpa is a painter (mostly nature art) and I have always wanted to possess those artistic talents but never did. I found that MS Paint was a medium that I could use to get my point across without having to look perfect. People got the jokes, and the story behind whatever I was making. If you have ever seen Laser Cats on SNL, it’s kind of like the same thing. There are so many editing errors and camera angle issues but that’s what makes it so damn funny. I just play to my strength which is my humor. I have seen your comments in the past about using a “real program” but that just wouldn’t be me. Being a master of Photoshop and many other programs, I can see where you would have distaste for using such a weak program. I was the same way in my old video editing days. I moved to digital and never wanted to look back while others were still making great stuff on linear video editing and my main question would be “Why?”
4. Do you do any other sort of artistic endeavors outside of your signature style? And without divulging too much information, what sort of work do you do for a living?
I haven’t done a whole lot of other kinds of painting, but I have painted helmets, cowbells and corn hole boards. I actually just started to transform a Tony Romo action figure into a Michigan Chad Henne. We will see how that pans out. Time will only tell. I also like video editing, and it’s something I might do more of this season. As for my job, I work for an agency that houses abused and neglected male teens from 12-18. I am a 3rd shift guidance counselor. I’m there for the kids who have issues sleeping at night, getting up in the morning, etc. Although sometimes very demanding and stressful, it is a rewarding position in which I am able to help guide and mold young boys into respectable men.
Very impressive-- I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who is so generous with their time and talents. So, when not inspiring future generations to succeed or creating Drupal-powered digital equivalents of the Sistine Chapel, what does the Shredder like to do for fun?
I do all kinds of things. I play disc golf with the wife. I love basketball and I play in a men’s basketball league at the crack of dawn every Monday and Friday at 5 am. I even officiate basketball during basketball season at all levels (mostly varsity). I am a huge movie fan, even though I find most movies suck these days. I play the XBox from time to time and even dust off the NES for some old school gaming. I eat, drink, and sleep the show LOST. I take heat for that over at Midnight Maize but the show is out of this world. EVERYONE HURRY! GO WATCH LOST BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!
5. This week’s episode is still waiting on the DVR—don’t spoil it for me! Uhh, quick—FOOD!! Describe the perfect meal.
Well, I kind of have a tradition going on. Every Tuesday night at 9pm my wife, my dog Chilly and my cat Dori enjoy a huge plate of spaghetti and a new episode of LOST. That’s life and I love it.
6. Speaking of love, can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I grew up in Greenville, Michigan sitting next to my Dad as he watched Michigan sports. I started paying attention as Desmond Howard danced into the end zone to the famous line by the great Keith Jackson. I got my first jersey the next Christmas. My dad’s passion would even scare me at times. During the infamous Fab Five time out, he threw his beloved weather radio that gave him 24/7 weather reports. It smashed into the wall into a bunch of pieces. My mom yelled at my dad for scaring me, but I saw it in the old man’s eyes. I saw his deep love for Michigan and the fire that burns in all us as fans. Even after a kick to my father’s dong by Chris Webber, he was still there the next season holding that little weather radio. All that was left was circuit board and a small speaker that was dangling by some wires. We Michigan fans always come back for more no matter how dark times get. My father was a Michigan fan. I’m a Michigan fan no matter what happens. I’m a Michigan fan because I love the passion that we all carry.
Well said. Finally, who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
Carl Tabb… No I kid. I still love you Carl. But really, it has to be Braylon Edwards. What I saw on that late October night in 2004 was nothing short of amazing. Mike Hart has a special place in my heart as well. I even love me some Charles Woodson.
Shredder, in my opinion, is easily one of the funniest guys on the blog, and while he didn’t let me down in that category, I was even more impressed with the other facets of his personality that came through in the interview. I guess it’s easy to just categorize each other according to the things we seem to ‘specialize’ in on MGoblog, but all of us are complex individuals with different reasons to be here. Perhaps that’s the best part about MGoProfile, getting to learn not just who a person is, but who else they are on top of what we already know. Either way, it’s been my pleasure to give you this perspective of The Shredder, and I’ll see you next week for another edition of MGoProfile!