Sunday, March 29, 2009

Senseless in Seattle: Facebook's dream-city quiz is biased

Seattle
I'll skip, please.


Facebook. I created my profile in August 2004, months after it was started at Harvard University and at the beginning of my junior year at the University of Maine. At the time, it was called TheFacebook.com because Facebook.com was occupied. I consider myself an experienced user of today's most popular social network.

My Facebook wisdom allows me to dismiss some parts of the site such as the "Where should you be living?" quiz that many of my friends have been taking. I noticed that an alarming number of them got the same answer: Seattle. Only a few got Paris. Some got "the country."

I snooped around various blogs and discussion forums, and many people have been either delighted or disappointed that they should be coffee-drinking, drizzle-loving Seattleites.

Something's fishy, I thought. And I had a theory: Someone in Seattle might be behind this. So I did some light digging.

The third-party developer of the application is Arwyn Robinson. One would think that the developer would maintain a Facebook profile, and the only Arwyn Robinson on Facebook is a high school student set to graduate in 2011.

A high school kid developed software? Not really. Actually, it's a simple quiz that can be put together in a matter of moments. Even a caveman can do it.

But the particular high school that this Arwyn attends intrigued me. It's Sandpoint High. Where is it? Near Spokane, Wash., across the state from Seattle.

The quiz asks seven questions about living preferences, including entertainment, food and relaxation. I doubt seven questions properly account for all the factors one considers in relocating. And I'm guessing that there aren't many possible answers for the quiz and that it skews toward Seattle.

In a comment section for the application, a quiz-taker says, "The stupid quiz picked almost the furthest place on earth from my current location - I live in Mauritius and it told me that I should live in Seattle (a city I admit that I quite like apart from the absence of decent coffee)."

The Internet activities that people engage in amaze me. Some are productive. Some are pointless. I'm certainly guilty of the latter, as is apparent in this post.

But as for Facebook quizzes, with all their shallowness, they aren't worth your time.

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1 comment:

Arwyn said...

Imagine a high school students surprise when her quiz that she made for her family and friends and then forgot about it becomes famous. Quite the shock let me tell you. :)