and esteemed statistician Elden Carnahan answer



Q: Why didn't you give me 2 points for my Runner-Up last week?
A: This is not a weighted system. You get one point for each submission the Czar prints, as determined by the copy of the Washington Post that I pick up and take home. We considered weighting once a long time ago, but that way lies madness, because there is no way to come to a consensus about relative worth, and I don't want to make those decisions myself.

Q: So every time my name appears, I get a point?
A: Not every time. You get nothing for "collateral ink," which is when your name appears in someone else's paranoid fantasy. But you do get credit for Uncle's Picks, the donation of a prize, and gratuitous abuse by the Czar, as long as it's in print.

Q: The Czar took my great palindromatic haiku about Madonna and Senator Mikulski and attributed it to Russ Beland. What happens now?
A: What happens is Russ gets a point, and you don't. Look, I'm sure you're a perfectly reasonable person and not trying to grift me, but there's no way I can keep track of all that. If the Czar prints a retraction, that's fine, that gives me a paper trail. But I should warn you that begging the Czar to correct himself can just make it worse.

Q: What could be worse than Russ getting my point? Or any point? Or "the point"?
A: What the Czar might do is print a retraction that doesn't mention you by name, but does mention Russ. Another point for Russ (under the category of "Abuse" or "honorable mention", depending), and more squat for you. Now you're two down for your trouble.

Q: What's the "Average"?
A: That's just the number of points divided by the number of Weeks since your first appearance in the Contest Year. We used to list something call "Average While Appearing", which would freeze your average in place if you suddenly died or stopped competing or something, but that's harder to figure using my present system.

Q: Speaking of which, what is your present system?
A: The Restoration data is kept in a simple spreadsheet, separate from the Year 1-7 spreadsheet that I closed out when the Invitational went on hiatus. One of these fine days I'm going to put it all into a relational database so we can find out, for example, how long it's been since you won something, or produce a list of the 10 best one-Year performances by women in Carroll County, and so forth.

Q: Why don't I have a career ranking?
A: You'll get one just as soon as you goose yourself up to 25 points lifetime.

Got more questions? E-mail Elden Carnahan


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