Sunday, August 15, 2010
I went from February until July without writing about Flickchart on my blog -- and now I'm doing it for the third time in the space of two weeks. Sometimes things just go that way.
And because I know the Flickchart creators sometimes look in on my blog, I want to start by telling them that I don't blame the site itself in the least for the following story -- I blame my computer, pure and simple.
Okay, so I'm very anal about making sure all my Flickchart duels have the correct winner. If you choose poorly or hastily between the two choices in front of you, the site has a handy-dandy Undo button, which I have availed myself of on numerous occasions. I don't want to let a single poor decision creep through and muck up my whole list.
Yesterday, my computer acted up in a way that took the ability to go back and correct right out of my hands.
I'd just gotten home from work and hauled my computer onto my lap for a couple minutes of random dueling. I love these little Flickchart breaks, which are usually finite in duration according to little parameters I put in place. I'll say "I'll duel until I get one lower film to beat a higher film," or, "I'll duel until I get one duel featuring one of my top 20 movies." Because I've done over 83,000 duels, either of these can take a little while -- anywhere from one to five minutes. And then I'll go do something else.
But because of some state the computer was in, where the inner circuits were telling it that the mouse click mechanism was depressed, or because of some way my palm was brushing over the mouse pad in between my two thumbs, I suddenly made a flurry of unknown duel choices. The posters rapidly changed, and I noticed that results were being recorded -- this film held its position, that film jumped forward 700 spots. I was aghast by the 700-spot jump, but it wasn't the end of the world -- it was the original Friday the 13th jumping from a spot that was probably too low (in the 2700s, out of 2950) to a spot that was slightly too high (in the early 2100s). Because Flickchart sometimes freaks out a little bit in situations like this, where a flurry of unexpected stimuli registers actions on the site, the Undo button was not available as an option. But having Friday the 13th ranked in this position didn't seem fatal to the integrity of the list.
I thought I was past this temporary trauma, but then it happened again, this time faster and with more dire results.
The little flurry ended with Inside Man jumping 800 spots, from around 1000 to #220. Looking at my live list of rankings just now, that means it beat Total Recall. Sure, there are plenty of people who might rank Inside Man above Total Recall, but I am not one of them. However, again I decided I could live with it. Inside Man would eventually make its way back to the appropriate spot through the random dueling process. I could live with it being ranked higher for six months or a year before finding its rightful place again. But just to make sure there was not a third session of random ranking, I closed my web browser and reopened it.
There were no recurrences of the problem, but it was only a few minutes later that I discovered one of the consequences of this uncontrolled period of blind ranking.
I got a duel between The Story of Us and Mission: Impossible III, and I gave the win to The Story of Us. You can imagine my surprise when Flickchart proceeded to jump The Story of Us from #1300-something in the standings ... all the way up to #25.
This is when I slapped my forehead and knew that my Flickchart rankings had been irrevocably tainted.
What apparently happened was that Mission: Impossible III had won a blind duel that had jumped it all the way up to #25. So when The Story of Us beat it, it assumed the #25 spot, pushing the Cruise flick down to #26. Consulting my rankings again, it appears that M:I III had won a blind duel against ... wait for it ... Fargo. The horror.
I sat for a moment and wondered what I would do. I actually like The Story of Us quite a bit -- it's a candidate to be reconsidered in my Double Jeopardy feature that runs on Tuesdays, since most people (those who have seen it, anyway) do not share my high opinion of it. But #25? I couldn't handle it. I could see it belonging around 800, but no higher than that.
And it wasn't just one interloper, but two. The fault really lay with the elevated ranking for Mission Impossible, but the problem had already started to multiply. Now, in order to force those two movies downward to their correct spots, I would need other films to beat them -- which shouldn't be a problem. But then I'd have to deal with the separate problem of those films being ranked too highly. Before long, my top 100 films would become unrecongizable.
I realized there was only one thing I could do: I had to remove the offending films and start ranking them again from scratch.
For an ordinary Flickcharter, this might not be such a big deal. But for an anal retentive bastard like me, I felt the pain. You see, Flickchart keeps a stats page of how your films have performed over time -- how many times you've ranked each film, and what percentage of duels it's won. An anal retentive bastard like me believes that those stats have some kind of intrinsic value -- they mean something in the imaginary "record books" that no one but me (and others like me) probably cares about. So my pain wasn't so much a result of the fact that I'd have to begin the process anew of getting these movies to their appropriate spots in the rankings, but that I'd be wiping out this history -- this history that means something intangible yet powerful to me.
But I had to do it.
I first went to the page for The Story of Us. I'd ranked it 56 times and it had won 59% of its duels. I clicked Remove From My Flickchart. I clicked Add to My Flickchart. When you add a new movie, it subjects it to three random duels to get an initial ranking. It won two of those duels. Its new stats? Three times dueled, 66.67% won.
It was harder when I moved on to the next two. Both Mission: Impossible III and Inside Man were part of the initial 300-400 movies they give you automatically when you first join Flickchart, movies that are considered the most popular. (They do this so that new Flickcharters aren't immediately confronted with My Dinner With Andre and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.) So these two movies had been dueled a lot more -- as it happened, 99 times each. Oy. Pretty soon, they too were back down to three duels apiece. And the integrity of my list had been restored.
Oh, I decided to just leave Friday the 13th where it was.
All in all, not a big deal. So why am I writing about it today? In fact, why am I writing so many words about it that the sensible ones among you have already stopped reading?
Well, it's just another insight into the passion I feel both for movies and for lists. And now you get why I have such passion for Flickchart, 'cause it's got both. If you haven't started yet, what are you waiting for? www.flickchart.com