Statistics, damned statistics, and total BS

So I belong to this huge online art community. There are many, but this is apparently the biggest: DEVIANT ART. some people sneer at it. And; yes: it is riddled with porn and fetish-art too. You can find me RIGHT HERE. [ No, no, no, it’s not MY porn and fetish-art!]

It’s no big deal. I do stuff, it’s a hobby. I probably couldn’t art my way out of a paper bag if my life depended on it. I’m lazy. I borrow a lot. I cheat a lot. I mainly do “mash-ups”, and colouring. And colorizing – as it is called in USian.

I’m really good at colorizing. Professional. Here’s one:

These are NOT easy!

But I’m not here to brag (much) I’m here to critique their idea of statistics. Deviant Art rebranded their whole look recently, rebuilt the entire website. Called it “Eclipse”. Thousands of major users hated it so much, they promptly left.

Before then – all we had to go on was a simple bar-graph. very simple. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

First thing to note: This is from today: April 3rd here in Brisbane. Notice the final ‘data point’? It is yesterday’s date. And it is at zero – because that data point has not been uploaded yet. In my time zone – I feel like I am getting data that is two days old. I’m 14 hours ahead of the West Coast of USA. They use their own time stamp. No effort to configure the stats to anyone else’s time zone.

Oh, and that data point is always at zero. Very depressing to see.

But it gets worse: The data is shown as a curve, but it is collected once every 24 hours. The apparently smoothing of the data is an entire artifice. It represents nothing. I did not get 5 ‘favourites’ mid-way through March 28th. At the very end of March 28th (LA time) an automated program collected a single number (my accumulated total) plotted it onto this graph and drew in a totally meaningless ‘smoothing curve’.


So, prior to Deviant-Art’s big expensive revamp I was able to see my running total in real time. Now I have to wait an apparent TWO DAYS to see my stats. For Fuck’s Sake!

But it gets even worse! Notice at top-right above the graph? According to this idiotic logarithm, my ‘favourites’ count spiked up by an exhilarating 467%. 467%! From a lousy 1 on Wednesday – to a breath-taking 1 on Thursday. In my books, that’s an increase of exactly 0%.

467% OF WHAT?! What is it measuring against? They don’t say.

Show me on this graph (or any other), an increase of 467% – then I’ll show you a statistics system that is so fucked that it beggars belief! I took stats in senior high-school, then at University, and hey I might be a bit rusty now, but I can still see just how screwed this thing really is.

Here are three more examples in one take, chosen for how well they demonstrate the same meaningless percentages:


And finally – That stat about “Comments Made”. 4.8K. That is 4,800 comments – MADE BY WHOM? It does not say.

A quick calculation: That would be about 160 comments per art-work!! Bullshit. Utter bullshit. Nothing like it.

Never in my life have I seen such a clusterfuck of numbers and graphs masquerading as ‘statistics’. The new Deviant Art is a mess of epic proportions, and a massive waste of electrons. And it was forced onto us. No consultation that I saw. No way to give feedback. It wasn’t broken, we were all happy enough, and now I endure this mess.

I’d quit too – but it just doesn’t feel worth it. And the worst thing is – I have friends here. we have fun. We’re supportive. I think that’s the core of social media, and that’s why we endure this same shit almost everywhere we choose to dwell. We like being in a village. Humans are social creatures. We’re altruistic. And we like meaningful statistics!

2 thoughts on “Statistics, damned statistics, and total BS

  1. I’m not on DA, but cynical me would be thinking by this point, “Where’s the money?” Are you being lured into some kind of ratings game, where you can pay for promotions and watch those clicks go up in (not) real time? As if it means something?

    I hope you keep enjoying the parts that work for you and your friends, and hopefully be undisturbed by the rest.

    1. To answer your first question: The money is possible, and can come from two pathways: 1) Selling prints (various sizes, framed, etc) of my work – if any visitor cares to buy it that way. But most of mine is set as a free download – for my own reasons. [That’s about the purity and originality of what I do – or more precisely what I almost never do!].
      2) Commissions. I can call for them, or people (as has thrice happened) have requested something. (I turned one down – as it would have turned me into a pornographer)
      I’ve no idea how other artists do for $$. Some are extremely talented and do seem to get a lot of commish-work. While others might be more discreet about their success(?). And some most certainly play to a specific fetish. But I don’t want to suggest the entire site is like that. It’s just what I’ve deduced.
      I don’t think there’s any kind of scam running: pay-more/get-more-likes. No.
      As it is, I was there for about 8 years, for free, before buying the minimum subscription.
      Many artists there already exist elsewhere in the real world and seem to use the site as another market for exposure. Some are astoundingly good!
      The meaningless stats thing is not enough to drive me away. I’m old and settled in my ways and anyway it’s just my hobby.
      The only bit of it I would perhaps like more $$ action is in colorizing. But, like any art, one needs to appear, persevere and promote. The internet is a total crap-shoot, offering dizzying rewards … *IF* one’s work can go viral.

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