Part II of Does the board lean left? (This is not a pit thread!)

Previous thread.

Thanks to an excellent suggestion by Chronos in the earlier thread I have randomly selected 50 posts from the past week based purely on selecting a random integer between two post numbers posted one week apart. As before, this is intended to give us a snapshot of the personality of the board.

Since I didn’t feel like sending out fifty PMs, I read each post looking for political content and assigned a numerical value depending on what I read. Each post was given a value of 1, 2, or 3 coresponding to politically left, neutral or right.

This is of course not ideal since it largely depends on my opinion, but I will post my data set so anyone who believes my views are skewed is free to see how far apart we really are.

The results are as follows:

Left - 10
Neutral - 38
Right - 2

Mean - 1.84
Median - 2
Mode - 2

Left:Right - 5:1

My conclusion is that the board content is overwhelmingly neutral but does lean slightly left. However, in politically charged threads there is a much stronger bias possibly an 80/20 left/right split.

The data (post numbers only but I do have the poster names if anyone wants them and doesn’t feel like viewing 50 threads) is as follows:


Since the results seem to match the opinions posted in the previous thread, I don’t expect there to be much to talk about here. However, I would love to discuss my methodology or entertain suggestions on other things to do with this data. (Please don’t tell me where to stick it. I already considered all the options and have ruled them out.)

Finally, reading 50 posts out of context is pretty weird. I recommend it.

Since most posts won’t be of a political nature, that seems to rather inflate the middle. You’re also adding a lot of personal bias into the mix. You’d do better to count how many people will vote for Obama vs. McCain vs. Don’t Care/Swing if you don’t want to PM people.

As of this morning, 5 for McCain; 71 for Obama.

Do the math.


Shodan, I assume you are getting these numbers from the thread asking posters who they will vote for. The problem with that is that sample is self-selected and this might have an effect on the results.

Sage Rat, I kind of don’t want to send 50 PMs (that doesn’t violate board rules does it?), but I will if I am convinced that anyone might find that useful.

I still maintain that this shows that more than half of the content of boards is politically neutral. That is, of course, based on my opinion, but until someone else goes through those 50 posts and comes to a radically different conclusion my opinion is all we have. I don’t believe another view is forthcoming since it was pretty easy in most cases to assign neutral values to posts about cat pics and recipes.

This whole study isn’t useful. But the point of the board is in fighting ignorance, which includes fighting poor methodology.

What about a post about a cat lead you to the assumption that the poster is apolitical? People with political beliefs can’t chat on other topics even the majority of the time?

I’d be fairly willing to bet that if you recorded everything Senator Obama said in a day, a good 50% of the time he wouldn’t be mentioning politics at all.

I’m not surprised that more than half the content is politically neutral. After all, most threads aren’t political. The 80/20 left/right positions of posters here may, IMHO, be somewhat understating the left lean.

Shodan’s 71/5 left lean seems more in line with my guess after seven years of reading threads here.

Level of activity on the board in terms of number of posts is self-selected.

That is sort of beside the point, don’t you think? Nobody is suggesting that fora like CS or ATMB are filled with posts excoriating Republicans. GD and the Pit, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly left of center by practically any measure you can name.

I think that is what people mean when they say that the SDMB leans left. Several of the fora are places where political opinions are expressly forbidden.


Allow me to clarify my points:

  1. The content of the board is made up of posts not posters.

  2. A large majority of those posts are politically neutral (~75%).

  3. Political posts seem to be split about 5:1 left:right.

Do you disagree with any of those statements? Would it be useful to try to determine the political leanings of the authors (essentially chosen at random weighted by posting frequency) of those posts?

Of course it is, but it is that particular self selection that I’m trying to measure.

This is my point. People say the board leans left when they mean political discourse on the board leans left and for some reason this annoys me. Furthermore, when people talk about how far left the board leans they generally exagerate it. I’ve seen claims of 49:1 and there’s at least one claim in this very thread of about 14:1.

Then maybe we don’t disagree very much. Like you said, not many people believe cat pictures are political.

But again, that is not much of a point. As Sage Rat mentions, no doubt most of Obama’s conversation over the course of a day is non-political. Does that tell you that overall, he doesn’t lean left?

In political threads and on certain topics in particular, fourteen to one doesn’t sound too far off. Five McCain voters out of seventy six total? Like I said, do the math.


Just an opinion:

I think political discourse leans left because. . . well, there’s something about leftist brain wiring that makes them louder. Usually when you see protest groups, it’s a leftist type demonstration. Also, looking at various pit postings, you see lots of left-leaners that apparently post every time they see a news story mentioning a “rightist,” along with a cacophony of “Me, Too! I am outraged!” Again, a protest group gathers within the thread. If I see a news story about some leftist type saying or doing something dumb, I just note to myself, “Well, that was dumb.” I don’t feel a “need” to make it public, or to elicit chants of affirmation. So it follows that most of the political discourse has a leftist bent to it. That’s just the way it is.

Well, then, you’re pretty easily annoyed. How can anything except political discourse lean left?

You’re right, raging moderation rules the threads about kittens. I’ll be sure to point that out the next time we discuss the political orientation of the Board.

Well, cats are evil.

So are liberals.

(+1 right-leaning post!)

You mean “liberals are pussies”, don’t you? :smiley:


Crikey, I’m really not sure about this (but I’m not outraged about it, in case you’re wondering). ‘Loud’ is rather a subjective judgement - and things you don’t like often appear louder and more irritating than things you like, played at the same volume. For example, the above quoted post measures quite loud on my meter.

I’d honestly be interested in the results of a study into the relative proportion of complaint about the opposite side. I see the term ‘leftist’ an awful lot, ‘rightist’, I’ve not noticed before. Liberals may outweigh conservatives on this board, in number and volume of posts, but not, I think, in volume of complaint and criticism against each other.

Most of y’all are right leaning.

/Superfluous Parentheses, mostly social democrat, Europe.

Oliver Cromwell sez “weeds and nettles, briars and thorns, have thriven under your shadow, dissettlement and division, discontentment and dissatisfaction, together with real dangers to the whole.”

What a great name for a cat.

Thank you kindly. His adopted sibling, Prince Rupert ;).

Now I will quickly back out of this thread with my quasi-humorous cat hijackings ( as if we need yet another pet thread ), before people start hurling cabbages at me :D.