the state of things

 

The Low End Of The Quarterback Rating

by Douglas Lindsay - 08:38 on 23 September 2008
I’ve been wondering how to make the website more statistical. Men need statistics. They need things ordered and numbered. They need league tables. They need averages. Batting averages, bowling averages. Number of goals scored. Strike rate. Quarterback rating.

The NFL quarterback rating is a great one. The calculation itself is some ancient algorithm combining all the definite stats they can take on a player in a game, throwing them into a computer and then arriving at a completely useless arbitrary number. You can’t just look at the way a guy played and decide if he was any good or not, you need it quantified. They can’t be too far off introducing the same thing to our football. Number of passes on target, shots on goal, strength of shot, quality of faked facial injuries, head butts, number of occasions caught mouthing fuck on tv.

It’s probably the main reason why soccer has never challenged baseball and American football in the US. It just doesn’t lend itself so easily to statistics.

The obvious way to quantify a website is to have a counter off to the side somewhere. This site has a counter facility, but on its own it seems pointless, so I’ve never turned it on. At the moment the invisible counter is running at 35,495 hits since last October. On one level that doesn’t seem so bad. On another, it averages out at just over a hundred a day, which seems rubbish. Then again, even if it was 350,495 or 3,500,495, unless it was being quantified against other sites, as a figure it’s completely useless.

There would need to be a crime writer’s league table, but then I’d probably be embarrassed. Rankin and all that lot probably get that number of hits in a day. I’d be near the bottom, or in the equivalent of the Blue Square South Lower Fifth Division. I’d have other crime writers calling me and taunting me with chants of what a shitey home support.

I could have a table of the number of books I sell each month, but that would only be adjusted twelve times a year, so wouldn’t exactly make for enthralling, end-to-end statistical fun. And I’d also have to admit how many books I sell each month...

The Amazon rankings are the great, instant writing statistic of our time. Constantly changing and an inescapable draw for the desperate author and publisher. A worthless task transferring that information to the website, however, and it’s not as if Barney Thomson ever troubles the top 100. Hard to get excited about moving up 1,345 places to number 4,312. Briefly, last week, however, The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson was ranked one place above the last Rebus novel, Exit Music. I know this because they were both in the top 100 Mysteries chart. I immediately sent Rankin an e-mail saying, ‘you fat bastard, you fat bastard...’

(There are two explanations for that last statement. One is that Rankin and I are great buddies and are always having a bit of a laugh. The other is that I’ve never met Rankin in my puff, he will likely never even have heard of me, and of course I didn’t send him that e-mail... And yes, it’s the latter...)

So, all in all, for the moment the site will probably remain a statistical desert, unencumbered by ratings, counters, charts or numerical analysis. And even if sales and number of hits were worth reading, I still wouldn’t put them on. No, I need to find something more insubstantial, like quantifying my mood or the weather or the quality of the toast that I’ve just eaten with my first cup of tea of the day.

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