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The Math of Gamification 36

An anonymous reader writes "The Foursquare blog has an interesting post about some of the math they use to evaluate and verify the massive amount of user-generated data that enters their database. They need to figure out the likelihood that any given datapoint accurately represents reality, so they've worked out a complicated formula that will minimize abuse. Quoting: 'By choosing the points based on a user's accuracy, we can intelligently accrue certainty about a proposed update and stop the voting process as soon as the math guarantees the required certainty. ... The parameters are automatically trained and can adapt to changes in the behavior of the userbase. No more long meetings debating how many points to grant to a narrow use case. So far, we've taken a very user-centric view of p-sub-k (this is the accuracy of user k). But we can go well beyond that. For example, p-sub-k could be "the accuracy of user k's vote given that they have been to the venue three times before and work nearby." These clauses can be arbitrarily complicated and estimated from a (logistic) regression of the honeypot performance. The point is that these changes will be based on data and not subjective judgments of how many "points" a user or situation should get."

Comment Replace the windows! (Score 5, Interesting) 215

I stayed at a really fancy hotel in NYC, where enormous amounts of money had been spent on interior decoration. But the windows were single glass windows which let through a lot of cold and noise. You cannot buy such bad windows in many European countries. Why do they not install proper triple-glass windows? I have not seen any building in NY with proper windows. Do they not sell them in the US?

Comment Reboot (Score 0) 251

I think you Americans need a full reboot of your system over there. You have a federal government that is unable to get bills or budgets passed, a federal administration that is unable to oversee banks and business sufficiently and thousands of companies exploiting every loophole that your broken government leaves. Add a judicial system extremely susceptible to frivolous litigation to that. You may blame a few bankers or a few companies, but the problem is deeper than that and possibly has to do with your constitution.

Comment CC would be to allow plagiarism (Score 5, Insightful) 172

As a scientist I want everyone to be able to read my work. But if I write an article I don't want to allow others to modify it. If they change it, put their name on it and publish it anywhere, then they are commiting plagiarism, which is one of the most serious crimes in the scientific world. If they change it and leave my name on it, then they are publishing something I did not approve in my name, which is probably even worse.

Comment Bellman (Score 5, Informative) 457

The 18th century Swedish poet Carl Michael Bellman did something similar. The king of the time (Gustav III) liked his songs and gave him a really cushy job as head of the state lottery. Bellman new he would not be able to hold down a job so he employed someone else to actually do the work and he lived from the difference of what he got from the king and what he paid the person doing the work. He spent most of his time in pubs and wrote an enormous number of drinking songs. He is the Swedish equivalent of Robert Burns.

Comment I bought a bed in the US (Score 1) 2288

Bed sizes are not measured in cm or inches. They are twin size, queen size, and king size. Those are the most ridiculous length units I have ever encountered. And no, two twins do not fit in one twin size bed. Also, getting a buzz cut, you tell the hairdresser you want a no. 1, 2 or 3 haircut. The hairdresser has no idea what that is in cm or inches.

Comment Re:It's ridiculous that SSNs should be sensitive i (Score 1) 391

If you turn up at a government office claiming to be me they will ask you for a valid ID. That can be a passport, drivers licence, a national ID card, an ID card issued by the postoffice, there are a few more possibilities. These are very hard to forge documents with holograms, stuff only visible in UV light, all sorts of security details. Let's say you steal my ID card. They will look at the picture on that card, then at you, then press a button under their desk. :) You have now committed a crime.

The card has my SSN on it. By showing this card I can prove that I am actually the real live person who, in their computer, is represented by that number. They can look me up in their system and take it from there.

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