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Comment Re:Citibank (Score 4, Insightful) 200

Look at Citi's motivation. They are trying to plan their investments for the future. They have come to the conclusion that investing in renewables, wind, nuclear, energy efficiency, etc is both a better investment and also avoids the potential major consequences of continuing to invest in coal. Where do you find the flaw in their research?

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

I think that some are more obvious than others. I was on OK Cupid, for example, and I met people just fine without paying anything. The fact that AM charged men to read messages should be a major red flag. It's kind of hard to legislate though, especially when the fine print says that many accounts are there just for entertainment. It's a pretty thin line, especially when those accounts aren't marked as being a bot.

Comment Re:pptthh (Score 1) 281

This is also a record, though not one the warmists like to talk about.

"Warmists". Huh. I don't know if National Public Radio frequently engages "warmists", but that's where I heard the story. You might even say they liked talking about it, how unusual these weather patterns were.

I do know that the summer weather here in Phoenix has been pretty strange. We had a mild June and July, I don't think it ever hit 110. In June it even rained (average monthly rainfall for June in Phoenix: 0.02 inches), hardly any rain in July (average 1.05 inches), and a few storms in August. Last night my roof got damaged by the wind while it poured rain for an hour or so, a lot of power outages around town. That storm dropped between a little less than an inch to 1.29 inches (average rainfall for all of August: 1 inch). I heard multiple transformers explode near my house and I've gotten some pictures from friends of downed trees from wind gusts well over 60mph (74mph is a category 1 hurricane). While June and July were mild, August has been very hot and we've been setting records, I believe we hit an all-time record high for August as well as record highs for several individual dates. I heard that it was the hottest August globally, and we definitely saw that here.

I'm not trying to sound like a "warmist" or anything, I'm just trying to figure out what I need to repair on my house thanks to the hot weather producing high-powered storms.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

That seems pretty interesting, I'm kind of losing confidence in the woman writing those articles though. She's making statements like this:

Looking at the code, there appear to be several database tables where the system keeps track of when humans chat or message with other humans. It also seems that Ashley Madison even keeps records of what each member says to the other in chat sessions. ... So much for Ashley Madison's guarantee that they'll keep your affair hushed up. Right now, the company has reams of incredibly incriminating personal information about everything its human users are doing and saying.

I mean, where are they supposed to store that data if not in a database? She sounds a little bit alarmist and relatively non-technical for someone trying to analyze a database dump.

Perhaps one of the most poignant parts of reading the engineers' comments in the code was when I uncovered a set of descriptions for how the engager bots should act. I found these in a database devoted to engager activity. Here are a few of them:

host bot mother creates engagers

birth has been given! let the engager find itself a man!

randomizing start time so engagers don't all pop up at the same time

for every single state that has guest males, we want to have a chat engager

Annalee, you found those in code comments or a database?

They operate by inhabiting, as a demon might, previously existing fake profiles

Yes, it's all witchcraft and sorcery.

The Angels, also called "hosts" by the company’s engineers, lay dormant until a bot animates them and uses them like a skin to contact a male user.

I think that Annalee thinks that her target audience is politicians.

It's unclear what else the engager would say - either the bots really are this simple, or further chat phrases weren't in the code. Most likely, based on what I saw from other bot code, the bot would urge the man to pay credits to talk further.

The most genius part of this entire scam is that the men will never go to the authorities if they figure it out. If a man gets messages from 10 different women all saying this:

I'm sexy, discreet, and always up for kinky chat. Would also meet up in person if we get to know each other and think there might be a good connection. Does this sound intriguing?

He's going to know that he's being scammed. He's not going to tell anyone about it though, beyond complaining to the site. He's not going to the media. It's like the druggie who gets his drugs stolen. He's not going to call the police to report that.

All told though, it's an interesting article with some better analysis. Upon hearing about the leak this was what I was most excited about - getting a real insider peak at how a dating site actually operates, from an analytical perspective it's great that both the source code and some or all of the database was leaked. From a privacy perspective that's obviously a horrible thing, but I'm definitely interested in the broad (non-personal) conclusions that come from seeing all of this information.

She posted another article here that shows the profit motive for running the bots, from email:


Comment Re:pptthh (Score 1) 281

I think that story was about either the Atlantic in general, or Florida in particular. A hurricane hasn't made landfall in Florida in something like a decade now, which was pretty similar to the entire east coast. When Sandy hit it was not classified as a hurricane. I heard a climatologist on NPR mentioning how hurricanes don't care about what happened the previous year.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

One CAN determine to an extent their level of engagement. Never checking the inbox, or sending messages tells us a LOT.

The data does not indicate whether or not a message was sent at all.

based on the strong evidence of a total lack of engagement with the site from the overwhelming majority of female accounts

Again, the data simply does not show that. You're looking at a single metric or two (inbox opened, messages replied to) and trying to extrapolate additional information that is simply not there.

I consider the paid deletes to be something of an outlier; and don't see any evidence to support an assumption that men and women would pay to delete in the same proportion.

I don't see any evidence to suggest that they wouldn't. Hence an upper bound and not an absolute number. I would find it unlikely that the number of actual women would be near the upper bound. It's probably in the middle.

Further I am more specifically interested in female accounts that are ENGAGED with the site

Then you're looking at the wrong data set, because it doesn't contain the information necessary to estimate that. At best you can only estimate the minimum, which you have apparently pegged at "less than 10,000" and assume that to also be the maximum due to a lack of data, which is not even included in the data set we have. You interpret the fact that we don't have that data as assuming that the data simply does not exist. I haven't downloaded the entire leaked data, but it sounded like it contained messages sent between users. That list of messages is the data you're actually looking for, so feel free to set up a database, import the data set, and analyze it. A single field in the table full of users is not a meaningful substitute for that data.

But lets say I'm wrong and they were created by 'real women'... so what? they weren't checking or responding to messages.

So what? Maybe they were sending messages. Women I know enjoy using dating sites like window shopping. They look at men and message the ones they are interested in. Why wouldn't they try to take that conversation off the site using a burner email account? That way it looks like they're checking email instead of using a dating site. Your only 2 data points are checking the inbox and responding to messages they get. You don't have any data that shows how many profiles they looked at or how many messages they send, and again, you're interpreting the lack of that data to assume that the data does not exist and setting your maximum accordingly. I'm not making that assumption.

Similarly, AM was charging money to send messages to millions of women on their site, while they had actual knowledge that only a few thousand were actually even looking at messages... that's fraud in my eyes.

They were charging men to be able to read the messages they received from women. If an actual woman sent a message to a man and he paid to be able to read it then that is not fraud. And, for the hundredth time, the data that we are looking at, and the data that Gizmodo analyzed, does not contain that information. It is not possible to claim with even any degree of reasonable certainty that the maximum number of women on the site is the low tens of thousands. That is the lower bound, not the upper bound. We can only determine a reasonable lower bound, and then try to extrapolate an upper bound based on what we know and assume about the men. That's exactly what I did with my calculations above, and the upper bound I reached was 2.1 million. That still leaves well over 10 million total users of the site, or around a third, that probably didn't do anything except look around. That sounds reasonable to me. It sounds ridiculous to assume that a site with that much marketing had no more than 15,000 or so women actually using it. That claim does not pass the smell test.

How about this: what if the data that Gizmodo analyzed only includes web-based activity, and not activity from the app? Do we know for a fact that it contains that data also? No, we don't, because we haven't seen the source code of the web services using that database.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

First, no. I think "responded to at least one message" is FAR more telling.

You think it's more likely that a fake account will pay to delete their information than sending messages? I don't agree with that. Why would a fake account pay to delete anything? It's fake. Only a real account would bother to pay to have their information deleted.

but the fact that it is SO RIDICULOUSLY LOW tells us that they weren't

No, the number doesn't reveal anything like that.

and it tells us that however many women joined only an insigifcant number deleted.

Although that number is more significant than the number sending messages.

I think women may have been significantly more inclined to use the paid delete option then men for a variety of reasons.

The percent of female accounts that paid to delete is a little less than half of the male accounts who paid to delete, whatever that means. And it doesn't really matter what you think, I'm looking for what the data can point to instead of opinions.

Further it evidently counts women who created an account only to lurk or see if their husband joined. Even if you want to count them as "members", the fact that they weren't responding to any messages at all is material evidence that even though they joined they simply weren't engaging in the site.

That is not even relevant. It also doesn't factor the number of men who signed up only to look for their wife, so what? We can't even guess what those numbers are. Maybe it's 100%. Who the hell knows? Neither of us, and the data doesn't provide any evidence either way. I'm specifically trying to determine the number of actual women on the site as opposed to fake accounts. I'm not interested in, and cannot guess, their motivations for being there. The data does not provide a way to estimate that and, again, I'm less interested in opinions than statistical evidence.

Look at "responded to at least one message" and "checked inbox".

Look at "sent a message". Wait, you can't, because that's not in the data set. What about someone sending messages to other users telling them to respond via email or phone? That user would never need to check their inbox or respond to any unsolicited messages. That could very well be a large number of people (especially women), and we have no way to know that. We do know the number of people who paid to have their information deleted though.

You can't tell me there 2 million women on the site, when fewer than 10k ever responded to a single message or checked their inbox or enaged in chat.

Actually it's not that difficult, here let me try: There very well might have been 2 million women on that site, actively sending messages to men telling them to respond via email. There, that wasn't that hard. You cannot point to a single piece of evidence which would definitively and unambiguously refute that claim, either.

I admit I'm speculating here.

You are speculating with virtually all of your conclusions. So am I, which is why my range of 12,000 to 2.1 million women is so broad. Here's a question - if Ashley Madison can get men to sign up by operating 10,000 accounts to chat with the men, then why are there 5.5 million accounts marked as female? They don't need 5.5 million accounts, they need 10,000, so where did those other 99.998% of accounts come from? Are you trying to suggest that the database for female accounts contains 10,000 accounts either operated by Ashley Madison or actual women, with millions of women just trying to check on their husband? Now they are claiming that hundreds of thousands of new accounts have been created, including (at least) 87,596 female accounts. Those women don't need to create an account to check on their husbands, the data is already out there. Are you suggesting that Ashley Madison has multiplied its real female user base by nearly 9 times? Granted, we have to assume that ALM lies about their user base, but surely those statements are not complete lies. I have no doubt that they are in fact gaining members and that many of them are women.

To count such accounts, where there is no evidence they logged in more than once, no evidence they logged in even once...

Do you have specific evidence that they did not log in at least once, or are you speculating again? Note that a lack of evidence of logging in is not the same as evidence that they never logged in.

2 million simply lacks any credibility at all whatsoever.

Obviously, I disagree, and a statistician would agree with me. You're looking at this from a psychological perspective, and I'm looking at it from a statistical perspective. That's the difference.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

I read that article the other day, that's where I got my numbers from.

The truth is probably somewhere below 15,000 'real' members, and probably much lower, like 1000.

If 12,108 accounts marked as female paid to delete their information, it is highly unlikely that there were fewer actual female users than that. 12,108 is the minimum. The paid delete functionality is the one good indication that an account was genuine, and those numbers were 12,108 for women and around 173,000 for men, like I said above.

31,343,429 male accounts
173,838 men paid to delete
0.55462342...% of men
12,108 women paid to delete
If the same percentage of women paid to delete, then there were 2,183,102 actual women

Hence my claim that the real number is probably somewhere between 12,000 and 2.1 million, which is less than the 5.5 million total female accounts and far less than the advertised 70/30 ratio. That's what I see from the data.

I don't think the site even credibly had even 1000 active women on it at any one time.

I'm not talking about "at any one time". We can't draw any conclusions about that from the data, I'm talking total numbers. Dating sites do not advertise who is online "at any one time", they show total accounts.

Comment Re:Spending More Time With 'Family' (Score 1) 213

He decided he 'wanted to spend more time with his mistress... err, wife.'

I had to look it up to confirm, but yes, apparently Noel Biderman did in fact find the most gullible woman in the world to marry him. He's also admitted to multiple affairs.

Shit I'm sorry, I should have started this post with a warning to get your fainting couch ready. Hopefully I didn't harm anyone with these stunning revelations.

Comment Re:I'm not sure this is the right response (Score 1) 213

What was the point of that post? Are you suggesting that the hackers are some sort of vigilante activist group out to stomp out infidelity or immorality in general? Is that what you think this is about?

From the first statements by the hackers it seemed pretty obvious that this was personal, an attack against that specific company (and the CEO personally) for fraud, personal enough that it sounds like the hackers got burned by the company at some point. I don't see any crusade against immorality here. The hackers were taunting the CEO personally, even while apologizing to some of the security people at the company.

The hackers knew that company, almost as if they had worked there at some point... maybe like that Thadeus Zu character, who claims he spent a year living in Canada. Guess where Avid Life Media is based.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 213

Fewer than 15,000 vs millions of clearly fake profiles

We'll never know exactly how many women were actually using the site. 12,000 seems awfully low, frankly. That number only comes from the number of female accounts who paid to have their information deleted, which is the single best indicator that an account belonged to an actual person. On the men's side, only around 173,000 thousand men (out of over 31 million accounts) paid to have their information deleted. If the same proportion of men and women paid to have their accounts deleted then that would indicate over 2.1 million actual women using the site.

Like I said, I doubt we'll ever know the exact number, but the truth is probably somewhere between 12,000 and 2.1 million.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1, Offtopic) 213

We are so fucking sick of being called out as racists or mean or anti-woman or anti-science or whatever sanctimonious bullshit phrase you want to throw at us.

So stop being racist, mean, anti-woman, anti-science sanctimonious bullshit?

In all seriousness though, this article has an interesting take on Trump:


Comment Re: Aha! (Score 1) 449

Well, who says they use the pictures legally?

Otherwise, I would guess various stock photography sites, or even just paying people for pictures. If they paid people to write profiles they could also pay models for pictures. It's already known that Ashley Madison purchases pictures of models for advertising, they might as well do it for profiles also.

186,000 Miles per Second. It's not just a good idea. IT'S THE LAW.