politicalcompass what? February 23, 2003 12:32 AM   Subscribe

Sideblog: The mefi political compass. Umm, what the hell is this? The whois information for politicalcompass.org is as shady as it gets. The test has a few major flaws, in my opinion, and works on a significant number of assumptions, especially in regards to historical figures. I don't know if there's an obvious slant to it like there is to the Libertarian World's Smallest Political Quiz, but considering they won't even let you see the code should we be displaying the results of something that could have major flaws written by some anonymous "academics" so prominently on the front page? Not to mention its polarizing and the traditional political labels often fall short of defining anything meaningful nowadays. Oh, and also the Star Wars character I'm most like is Chewbacca.
posted by skallas to MetaFilter-Related at 12:32 AM (35 comments total)

Do we care that much? It was just a fun little exercise, and now it's over. Not like this is going on anyone's "permanent record" or anything.

I personally think a debate about whether or not we have a link to it on the front page is probably just about as big a deal as a debate about whether or not Matt should have posted a link to a funny comment in a thread.
posted by Hackworth at 1:18 AM on February 23, 2003


while there may be some sneaky underlying bias to it, the questions aren't framed rigorously enough for the results to be of any serious worth anyways.

eg:
"Our nation has many superior qualities."

(superior to what? my nation has a superior population count, landmass, quantity of natural resources to any x geographically much smaller countries...does that say _anything_ with regard to my position on a political compass?)
posted by juv3nal at 1:45 AM on February 23, 2003


Like I wrote to a friend:

No doubt about it. The test offered so many questions that could have gone "Disagree" equally as "Strongly Disagree". Depending on your mood, you may have rounded off the extreme edges or decided to make them more prominent. I fit somewhere within the far left, of course, in the first place. But to be that extreme is to also underscore the test's shortcomings. On those questions that I felt most vague about is to simultaneously call in their real world application, which I am not in any position to answer and neither, I feel, is anyone else. Therefore, the more vague the question, the more likely I was to move my answer to the "stronger" category. If it is such a vague issue in the first place, it must not be important enough to believe strongly in, but to believe more strongly in the opposite because it wouldn't be an issue were it not a question. Errrrr. I hope that makes sense.
posted by crasspastor at 1:53 AM on February 23, 2003


if you run a whois request for the server listed in the first link, you get the following information:

andrew@tonto:~$ whois politicalcompass.org -h whois.opensrs.net
Registrant:
Digital Ronin Limited
22c Barry Road
East Dulwich, London SE22 0HU
UK

Domain name: POLITICALCOMPASS.ORG

Administrative Contact:
Salgado, David david@digitalronin.com
22c Barry Road
East Dulwich, London SE22 0HU
UK
07050 649 796 Fax: 07050 658 323

Technical Contact:
Briggs, Graham graham@firevision.co.uk
25 Burgess Place
Martlesham Heath
Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QZ
UK
+44 7939 252180

Registration Service Provider:
Firevision Limited, technical@firevision.co.uk
+44.7939252180
http://www.firevision.net/
This company may be contacted for domain login/passwords, DNS/Nameserver changes, and general domain support questions.

Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 31-Oct-2002.
Record expires on 20-Dec-2004.
Record Created on 20-Dec-2000.

Domain servers in listed order:
VIOLET.FIREVISION.NET
SILVER.FIREVISION.NET
TURQUOISE.FIREVISION.NET

i'm surprised no-one else has posted this. what's happening to the geek quotient here? in the old days etc etc...
posted by andrew cooke at 5:59 AM on February 23, 2003


Therefore, the more vague the question, the more likely I was to move my answer to the "stronger" category. If it is such a vague issue in the first place, it must not be important enough to believe strongly in, but to believe more strongly in the opposite because it wouldn't be an issue were it not a question.

It makes a lot of sense, crasspastor - well said. The test is actually skewed towards the libertarian, so that any small proof of elementary democracity is taken to be libertarian.

My gut instinct tells me it's flagrantly a libertarian bias, to make the word "libertarian" honourable. Whereas we all know libertarians are savage, rabidly right-wing, Social Darwinist, Randian loonies.

It's a "whitewashing libertarianism" exercise, at best.

Thanks, Scallas, for bringing it up.

Myself, I believe in the old left/right axis, which trades on the freedom/equality cut-off.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:18 AM on February 23, 2003


Skallas, dammit.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:18 AM on February 23, 2003


But... but...the Star Wars Character test is skewed towards Wookie!

Honestly, the compass test, while obviously flawed in many ways, is just some throwaway stupid test that doesn't mean anything, doesn't harvest email addresses, and if you don't like it, don't take it. It's kind of cool that some people graphed the data, but all in all it means nothing.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:02 AM on February 23, 2003


[Metafilter is] but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth, act V, scene 5
posted by crunchland at 10:09 AM on February 23, 2003


So posting the results to that test don't automatically register me to vote for the correct party? Guess I've got to get of my ass and do something.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:41 AM on February 23, 2003


doesn't, damnit.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:42 AM on February 23, 2003


Friendly suggestion: Please commence pissing and moaning before the thread reaches 300+ comments.
posted by Shane at 11:17 AM on February 23, 2003


nice... i'm yoda.
posted by condour75 at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2003


Nice, I'm a questionnaire with all the questions blank again. Damn thing's broken in opera 6.
posted by fvw at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2003


>It's a "whitewashing libertarianism" exercise, at best.


Yeah, that's my gut reaction to it too. I remember when the "Worlds Smallest Political Quiz" first came out. It was on a site that made an effort not to be associated with the Libertarian party so in the end you'd say something like, "Well Ma', looks like I'm one of those wacky libbers afterall! Their views are my views!"
posted by skallas at 12:27 PM on February 23, 2003


My gut instinct tells me it's flagrantly a libertarian bias, to make the word "libertarian" honourable.

Yeah, that's the conclusion a couple of the lists I'm on came to, when it first did the rounds. Hence the 'insidious bullshit' comment (that I'm too lazy to link back to;).

...and I'm Emperor Palpatine, although I probably shouldn't be telling you that.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:11 PM on February 23, 2003


Princess Leia?!?!
posted by Hildago at 1:20 PM on February 23, 2003


You got off easy Hildago, it says I'm C-3P0.

I don't even know how to start being gay.
posted by Stan Chin at 1:32 PM on February 23, 2003


My gut instinct tells me it's flagrantly a libertarian bias, to make the word "libertarian" honourable.

no, at least not in the american sense. if you read the faq (particularly the last question) it seem the people behind it are a little annoyed that some of the american right have appropriated "libertarian" to their own ends, when it was originally associated with left-wing thought (in europe - it's a uk-based site).

hence the plots showing a clear correlation between libertarian and leftist thinking. i don't know whether the intention was simply to provide a more neutral view, or provide pro-left propaganda, though.

for me, at least (middle aged uni educated white british mail with an intellectual interest in left-wing politics) "libertarian" was synonymous with "anarchist" until i started reading ravings from american ayn-rand (sp?) readers. the faq comments ring so true to my own feelings that i suspect the people behind it are similar.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:49 PM on February 23, 2003


male. and clearly not so educated.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2003


Gee, as a card-carrying Libertarian, I'd have to say that it pegged me pretty accurately.

But I'm definitely not Luke Skywalker as the Star Wars quiz claims, nor do care to be any George Lucas character other than THX-1138.
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2003


The quiz does seem skewed towards Libertarianism, but I think MeFi would still skew itself in that direction anyway.

And I, too, am Emperor Palpatine.

* Attempts to fire lightning bolts out of fingers at condour75 *
posted by gsteff at 6:50 PM on February 23, 2003


I'm Woody Allen.
Oh wait, that's my celebrity pedophile.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:40 PM on February 23, 2003


I get the feeling that it's a much a way for the site's owners to graphically express how pissed off they are with New Labour as anything else. Why else include the historical 'data' showing the degree to which certain New Labour politicians have (supposedly) moved to the right?
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:08 PM on February 23, 2003


I'm Luke Skywalker.

Hildago, what are you doing tonight?
posted by dg at 9:44 PM on February 23, 2003


Wow, such misunderstanding of the term 'libertarian'. And don't mix 'libertarians' and 'liberals' up folks.

'Libertarianism', quite rightly, has its own place on the spectrum, as its somewhat independent of left or right. It is, after all, the opposite of authoritarianism.

There are lots of 'left wing' (by the popular definition) libertarians, 'centrist' libertarians and 'right wing' libertarians. Right wing doesn't mean you're a fascist, much like left wing doesn't automatically mean communist.

That said, most true blue libertarians will tend to be economically Right, and socially Left, making a single Left/Right scale useless. After all, Libertarians believe in low taxes, having all money accounted for, and total financial freedom.. but they also believe in personal charity, and the right for people to do what they want as long as it hurts no-one else.

Does this make a libertarian left or right? It makes them both. Libertarianism is not a left/right argument.
posted by wackybrit at 10:54 PM on February 23, 2003


Well, according to Which Chickenhawk Are You?--I'm Paul Wolfowitz.
posted by y2karl at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2003


Thanks for that clarification, wackybrit. I was going to point out in the original thread that the quiz was about libertarianism the political philosophy, not Libertarianism the American political party, but I figured it'd be drowned out by the rest. Oh well.

There are two, separate reasons, in my opinion, that MeFi skews left and libertarian: left because we're a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals (I don't profess to know why we are, but it's pretty obvious we are), and libertarian because the majority of Internet users (barring most of those with AOL, who don't know any better) are in favor of less governance of the Internet, a viewpoint which generally would extend to the rest of our lives as well.

We could make up our own quiz, check and double-check for bias, and we'd still come up with the same answer. So what if the creators of this particular quiz are shady-seeming; as Matt said, it's all just fun and games.
posted by me3dia at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2003


it's all just fun and games.

But now I know you're all just a bunch of pinko commie liberals and I must crush you.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2003


Thanks for that clarification, wackybrit. I was going to point out in the original thread that the quiz was about libertarianism the political philosophy Again, thanks wackybrit & Andrew Cooke, too.

me3dia, you're right as I did hint at it.

When we use these political terms, are they meanings the same in each land? The test did talk about left/right from the French side of things.

Is being left/ right the same for both Americans/Canadians/Europeans? (maybe why political statements are hard in a political discussions which then make it harder to understand each others' stance)
posted by thomcatspike at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2003


political terms, are they meanings the same
or
political terms, are they meanings the same
posted by thomcatspike at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2003


...political terms, are they meanings the same...

...political terms, are they meaning the same...
or
...political terms, are the meanings the same...
posted by thomcatspike at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2003


whoops, for the weird double post.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2003


From what I understand, TCS, there's kind of a red shift*: Canadians are a bit more liberal than Americans, and the Brits are more liberal still. But the terms still mean the same thing.

*Get it? Red = communist? Hah! I kill me.
posted by me3dia at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2003


just in case anyone is interested - here in chile the range of political parties is much greater than the uk (and, i guess, usa/canada). the communist party (with a female leader) gets about 5% of the popular vote, and there's a socialist party that really is socialist. more info here. similarly, the extreme right is, well, extreme. not so much in the racist european/usa sense (it's not an issue because society here is pretty uniform - few black/asian immigrants and the spanish either married or killed most of the native people, especially in the central/northern regions, where santiago is situated (santiago dominates chile)), but with strong links to strange catholic sects and very strong views on abortion, divorce (neither legal here) etc (and, of course, they are madly in love with pinochet).

the term libertarian isn't used (or liberal? - not sure what the translation would be), as far as i know, but other terms are similar, if a little more direct (a socialist here really does want everything to be state controlled, for example) (refreshingly, "PC" means communist party and has nothing to do with right-wing parodies of left-wing stupidity).

take all this with a grain of salt as i don't follow politics much here, and still find the presidential system odd. oh, and there's no green party that i know of.

(unfortunately, we've recently had a bad scandal - it seems chile isn't immune to the corruption that is such a problem for other latin american countries. most chileans i've spoken to still feel things are generally straight, and that the (current) process finding and dealing with the corrupt members of parliament is evidence of that. however, the same coalition (of centrist/left-wing parties) has been in power for years (ever since pinochet lost his referendum in 1988 and a civilian president took power in 1990) - maybe people will now vote for the right (there's a populist right wing presidential candidate waiting in the wings). while i don't want a right wing government particularly, at least it will mean some fresh blood.)
posted by andrew cooke at 2:49 PM on February 24, 2003


i think you'll find macbeth was referring to life, crunchland,
have you got the two confused ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:02 PM on February 24, 2003


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