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NationStates issue results

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:33 am
by Trotterdam
Want to know what an option will do before you choose it? Well, now you can.

http://www.mwq.dds.nl/ns/results/




NAQ (Never-Asked Questions)

Nobody has asked these questions yet, but I figure sooner or later someone will, so I might as well pre-empt them.

Q: Wow, this is a really cool thing you're doing! How can I help?

A: First of all, don't tell me what stats you got when answering an issue. My program collects data from thousands of issue results per day. One more data point is not worth the effort of figuring out if you're even reliable.

One of the most useful things you can do is avoid answering multiple issues in too quick succession. If you do that, my program can't their effects apart, and has to discard them. If you have multiple issues in your inbox, spacing your answers several minutes apart will significantly increase the chances that my program will be able to derive useful data from them. Note that this is per nation, not per player - if you have lots of puppets, a good tactic is to cycle through your puppets answering one issue on each, then go back to the first puppet and answer its next issue after you're worked through all your other puppets.

If you have any throwaway puppets whose stats you don't care about too much, you can of course choose whichever issue options I have the least data about to help fill it up.

Of course, nothing can guarantee that your answer will be captured, since, if nothing else, there is always the possibility that my computer happens to be off at the time.

I also have to discard all results from WA nations, because their stats can be affected by passed resolutions as well as issues. (Which, as a side effect, means that I will never have data on the two issues in the game that require you to be in the WA as a prerequisite... unless you jump through the hoops of getting the issue, resigning from the WA while leaving it unanswered, and then waiting long enough for my program to notice that you're not in the WA anymore before answering another issue first to update my stored snapshot of your stats and only then answering the original issue it was all about. Yeah, I didn't think you'd be thrilled. Nevermind, turns out people do do that often enough for me to get data on all options of #132 and #837, and most of #1168. Theoretically, an option that is limited to WA members, though, can't benefit from this loophole and is still untrackable, though no such options appear to currently exist since #1015 1 was changed.) This is not an ideal situation, since I have to discard quite a few happenings due to their nations being in the WA, even though I am fairly sure the WA only affects stats when a resolution is passed, no more than once every few days. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell when a nation's stats have been updated to accord to WA legislation, especially since it happens as part of the worldwide update tick which can take more than an hour to propagate through all nations, since ratified WA resolutions aren't reported in national happenings. Adding code to reliably keep track of when updates happen would be extremely tedious while requiring access to entirely different logic from the rest of the program. It's not worth it. So, ignore all of the above advice when it comes to your WA nation, it doesn't matter.

I am also always on the lookout for nearly any information that isn't stat changes.

There are some issue options where I still don't know what their effect line is, or suspect but am not sure, or am just plain wrong, or the effect line has been changed since I last recorded it. If you chose an option I don't have an effect line listed for and can report what it is, or if you received a different effect line than I predicted you would, I definitely want to hear about it. Caveat: make sure to check the internal option numbers, not just the ones the game displays. If you fail to do so and there is any chance that it matters, I may be forced to discard your information as unreliable. If you don't know how to interpret the HTML source code for the internal options numbers, you can also just dump the raw source code at me. I would rather interpret that myself than have to deal with unclear reports.

I am also interested in corrections to issue titles, even just as simple as differing capitalization.

Finally, since the workings of the game are occasionally changed behind the scenes, some of the data I have collected may be out of date. In extreme cases, if the requirements for qualifying for a policy were changed, my script can't tell the difference between that and a policy gained or lost from answering an issue. A good sign of this happening is if it starts reporting an improbably huge number of completely unrelated issues as affecting the policy. Changes to issues' stat effects (or to how the stats are calculated by the game engine) have less dramatic effects, but just as much opportunity for reporting incorrect data. When this happens, my only recourse is to manually purge the offending data, allowing my script to restart collecting the proper effects from scratch. It can be useful to let me know if you see dubious information that you know or suspect needs to be purged. Do keep in mind that "This option made my Intelligence drop by four points when your site said it would only drop by three points!" is not a sign of a change in the game, and is not a useful report.

Q: Boo, there's no fun in issues if you can't be surprised by their results. Your spoilers are going to ruin NationStates!

A: Then don't use them. My goal is to enable players to decide for themselves how they want to play NationStates, whether that means consulting my spoilers frequently, rarely, or not at all.

Q: How often is this updated?

A: Once a day at midnight GMT, for the most part. It's potentially variable based on when my computer is actually turned on, but that's the usual schedule.

All the scripting logic is on my own computer, while what you see on my website is completely static information that's only updated through (automated, but still) uploads of plain HTML files from my computer. So on-the-fly recalculation on the website itself isn't possible. I could, in principle, update more often, but I feel that much traffic would just annoy my ISP while giving negligible benefits in accuracy.

Q: So which issues can raise my <insert census here>?

A: I could easily instruct my program to output this information, but I don't plan to. For the most part, it's not really useful. You can't control which issues you get, and knowing which issues you want to get isn't going to make them turn up any faster. What is useful is knowing how to make the most of whatever issue you happen to have right now, and so that's what my spoiler format is designed to facilitate.

However, I do produce a list of issues that can set or clear particular policies, since these change far less often than census stats and so it may be worth knowing what to look out for (or just interesting for the sake of curiosity). It also doubles as simply a list of all policies in the game, although maybe a little unwieldy due to the extra information taking up space.

Q: There's way too many stat effects listed for every option! How do I find the ones I'm interested in, or what the overall merit of an option is? Can't you sort them by whether their effects are positive or negative?

A: Can't do, I'm afraid. For starters, the game includes stats describing bad stuff like, so "positive" doesn't automatically mean "good". In fact, there are a lot of paired opposites like Lifespan and Death Rate, so simply comparing the number of positive and negative effects is going to be a useless mess. Besides, the point of the game is to decide for yourself what you want your nation to be like, so not all players - or even all puppets of the same player - are in agreement about which stats are desirable, undesirable, or just irrelevant.

I recommend deciding which stats you care most about and Control+Fing for them.

One thing I could do is sort scores by alphabet rather than by their census ID, which might make them easier to find, though it would also split up some scores that are closely related to each other (like Primitiveness and Scientific Advancement). It'll still be a lot to sift through either way.

Q: Hey, my passed legislation page usually displays changes as percentages! Why don't you show them that way?

A: Well, in part just because it's easier. Addition and subtraction are easier than multiplication and division, and have no problems with rounding errors either.

But also because I find that most of the time, absolute changes are more reflective of what's actually going on in the game engine behind the scenes.

There are a few exceptions - particularly, the income-related stats - where percentage changes actually can be more informative (particularly since often most of your economy grows or shrinks by the same percentage), but I felt it preferable to keep my format consistent. If you want to know whether changes to, say, Average Income of Rich and Average Income of Poor are proportionate to each other or not, I suggest looking at the Wealth Gaps/Income Equality census, instead. A raise in wealth gaps means that income of rich increased by a larger percentage (or decreased by a smaller percentage) than income of poor, no change in wealth gaps means that any change to income of rich and income of poor should be by the same percentage, etc.

Q: Hey, you list this issue option as having both negative and positive effects on the same stats! How can that be?

A: Yes. The actual change will depend on the preexisting state of your nation. Most likely, nations that already have a high value will see it decrease and nations that already have a low value will see it increase, but there may be other factors. Besides minimum and maximum changes, I also record the mean change to give you an idea of which direction is more likely, but this shouldn't be taken as certainty, especially if you have an extreme nation. Of course, there are also times where I do report a stat as seeing exclusively positive or exclusively negative changes. The point is, know what you're getting into.

There is also the possibility that the discrepancy is due to the issue having actually been changed, so one which used to raise the stat now lowers it, or vice versa, but I haven't yet gotten around to purging the obsolete data as discussed above (which can be quite difficult to when the editors change issue effects without telling us, which definitely does happen). However, you probably shouldn't assume this explanation without further evidence.

It can also happen that two options have the same effect line, but different stat effects. There is no way to tell these apart, so what I display is the aggregate effect of all issue options with that effect line. Since these options are usually validity-gated variants, this is just a form of "actual results may depend on the preexisting state of your nation", as above.

My program's data structures include a basic framework for automatically gradually discarding old data as new data rolls in, but this feature is not currently programmed in yet. Before I consider adding it, I need to make a judgement on how many data points I can reasonably expect to collect without keeping overly ancient ones, something that unfortunately varies a lot depending on how common a certain issue is. Issues which players rarely receive I also have a hard time collecting data on, for obvious reasons.

Q: Okay, but why do the stats change like this? What are the effects on my hidden stats?

A: That's not what this is about. I have various educated guesses about how the model behind the game works, but I cannot say much with certainty. The goal of this project to catalogue facts, not opinions. Including estimates of things I don't actually know for sure, no matter how well-researched, would dilute the reliability of this service.

However, I might have useful insight on the subject if you ask me elsewhere. Just don't expect me to ever incorporate it into these listings.

Q: These numbers don't make any sense!

A: Not. My. Fault.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:41 am
by Annihilators of Chan Island
Holy f***.

The sheer volume of data involved here... pretty speechless here. Well done Trotterdam?

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:47 am
by Jutsa
*faints*

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:49 am
by Candensia
Truly impressive, Trotterdam.

However, somehow I can no longer shake the mental image that you have a gargantuan supercomputer in your basement, or something. :roll:

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:52 am
by Storalia
Damn, this is like NSWiki but actually reliable. Should finally help me avoid issues with stupid unpredictable results like I had this morning. -.-

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:56 am
by Thaideland
This is incredible, Trotterdam. Thank you so much! I plan on referring to this as much as possible, because I have always had specific goals in mind for my country's statistics but had no means to regulate them until now.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:04 am
by Miklania
Someone give this man a medal.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:06 am
by The dark Panther
Give this man/woman/attack helicopter a medal for this!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:20 am
by Azurius
Finally someone bypassed the problem of unreliable contributions letting a program collect the data. Must have been a lot of work to set that up. Nice one Trotterdam! You have my gratitude.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:22 am
by Leprach
Wow, this is pretty neat stuff. Amazing work on project!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:24 am
by The South Falls
How? This is great, Trotterdam. That new pc really helped!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:30 am
by Dieselvania
I would like to start a new religion called Trotterdamism, where we praise Trotterdam for his many blessings that he bestowed upon us all.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:22 am
by Trotterdam
"This browser window has 117 tabs open. Do you want to close it and all its tabs?"

I may have gone slightly overboard with reading the documentation for the libraries I'm using.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:24 am
by Drasnia
I feel sorry for the editors. They got a break from people complaining about NSIndex's predictions not being accurate, now they're going to have to deal with people complaining because their result didn't perfectly match this one's.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:32 am
by Trotterdam
Drasnia wrote:I feel sorry for the editors. They got a break from people complaining about NSIndex's predictions not being accurate, now they're going to have to deal with people complaining because their result didn't perfectly match this one's.
That's why I list a range of possible results, rather than just the average. If an option can have wildly different outcomes depending on your nation, you'll be warned in advance. If the spoiler says "-0.01 to +9001 Cheerfulness" and you end up getting the -0.01 then, well, it's a disappointment, but you knew that could happen.

It should, rarely, happen that your nation ends up having a more extreme result than any I've seen before, but it's pretty unlikely for it to make a large difference.

Of course, I'm sure some people are going to be idiots and complain about not having seen something coming that totally was listed, but there's nothing I can do about that.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:37 am
by Drasnia
Trotterdam wrote:but there's nothing I can do about that.

Except that you're the one that published and hosts the data.

My problem with tools like this is that there are problems no matter if they're accurate or not. If they're accurate, they unbalance the game where players don't have to expend any effort in order to optimally answer issues.

If they aren't accurate, then you're creating unnecessary work for the editors which isn't fair to them.

No matter what, you're taking the fun out of the game for people who don't even use it.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:42 am
by Luna Amore
Drasnia wrote:
Trotterdam wrote:but there's nothing I can do about that.

Except that you're the one that published and hosts the data.

My problem with tools like this is that there are problems no matter if they're accurate or not. If they're accurate, they unbalance the game where players don't have to expend any effort in order to optimally answer issues.

If they aren't accurate, then you're creating unnecessary work for the editors which isn't fair to them.

No matter what, you're taking the fun out of the game for people who don't even use it.

I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner to be honest. Once public detailed stats and instant issue results were rolled out 2 years ago this was kind of a inevitable conclusion in my mind. It's a really cool "little" project. Awesome work Trott!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:50 am
by Trotterdam
Luna Amore wrote:I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner to be honest. Once public detailed stats and instant issue results were rolled out 2 years ago this was kind of a inevitable conclusion in my mind.
Neither of those are relevant to my code. In fact, it would probably have been somewhat easier to do before the instant issue results (fewer possible race conditions to account for), though it's a good thing I didn't get around to it back then since I would have had to rewrite everything once the issue system was changed. The only thing that kept me from doing this sooner is that my decades-old three-quarters-dead computer simply wasn't up to the task.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:54 am
by Chan Island
Trotterdam wrote:
Luna Amore wrote:I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner to be honest. Once public detailed stats and instant issue results were rolled out 2 years ago this was kind of a inevitable conclusion in my mind.
Neither of those are relevant to my code. In fact, it would probably have been somewhat easier to do before the instant issue results (fewer possible race conditions to account for), though it's a good thing I didn't get around to it back then since I would have had to rewrite everything once the issue system was changed. The only thing that kept me from doing this sooner is that my decades-old three-quarters-dead computer simply wasn't up to the task.


And now with the latest greatest hardware on the works, you create this.

Most impressive. Still pretty speechless about this whole thing, but still. Most impressive indeed.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:57 am
by Lord Dominator
Pretty impressive work here. Might use it on occasion

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:01 pm
by Fauxia
Holy crud Trott, how the hell?

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:02 pm
by Leutria
First time I use this, I actually get a more dramatic result then predicted xD

Still, very cool :)

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:02 pm
by Egyptian Pharocracy
Cool stuff, Trotter. That'll prove to be really useful to me.

Thanks!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:02 am
by Dwarfpolis
BASED Trotterdam. Based, simply BASED.

Image


EDIT: YOU, yes YOU the reader, archive this with archive.is regularly in case this gets taken down

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:10 am
by Dwarfpolis
Drasnia wrote:
Trotterdam wrote:but there's nothing I can do about that.

Except that you're the one that published and hosts the data.

My problem with tools like this is that there are problems no matter if they're accurate or not. If they're accurate, they unbalance the game where players don't have to expend any effort in order to optimally answer issues.

If they aren't accurate, then you're creating unnecessary work for the editors which isn't fair to them.

No matter what, you're taking the fun out of the game for people who don't even use it.


What's it to you that people can enjoy the game in a way that doesn't affect your masochistic gaming philosophy? For one I'm glad that restricting drones to law enforcement authorities won't drop my science, in one option harder than funding space death rays and particle accelerators did in the sum of multiple issues, anymore, because I know to avoid such answers now.