Lazy Luddite Log


Testing Times

In this entry I will explore the fate of my online tests. My tone may be somewhat testy...

Class And Stutus Test (Considered)

I was recently motivated to design my third online test by what struck me as overly simplistic discussions of class during recent elections of world significance. It seemed that too many were now reducing the concept of class to just differences in income. This then legitimized arguments that one can only have economic grievances if one is of markedly low income. Such thinking instantly clashed with my own observations and preferences.

For most of my life I have fitted the description of a person of below-average income living in an urban area. This is a position I would much rather be in than the contrasting one of an average income person living in a depressed rural area. Infrastructure, services and personal networks are far more important to me than (say) affording a house in a hick-town. And yet many of my cohort summarily dismissed the concerns of rural voters in the context of the last US Presidential election because there existed urban voters of lower income.

This got me thinking that it could be worthwhile to make an online test that expanded the notion of what makes us well-off. One possibility was to draw on the Weberian distinction between economic class and cultural status. I drafted some questions and then visited the website OKCupid (also known as HelloQuizzy). It was then that I discovered a problem.

Links to my existing two online tests took me to an apologetic webpage declaring that something was broken. Other well-known tests from the same site had the same problem. And it went on for months. I sent a message to the administrators and the only response I got was to acknowledge that a problem exists rather than to say they had any plans to fix it (I suspect it is because they are now focusing solely on members-only dating). What was I to do?

Political Objectives Test

Only one of my two online tests particularly mattered to me - the Political Objectives Test. It had been operating for over a decade and had been taken many tens of thousands of times. It was one of the best-rated tests in its category and had garnered lots of positive feedback from across the political spectrum. I enjoyed observing it assess the ideology of test-takers and then comparing that with the content of user profiles (which tended to confirm my test results). I was proud of it and wonder if I should find a new host site.

Finding a new site will take time and effort. Re-writing the test into a new template will be fiddly. I have been busy with other things. And I also now have a sense that times have changed since my test became operational. Even just in the last decade something has shifted in the nature of politics that transcends ideology. Take a look at the underlying message of my test.

It gave users one of over twenty labels but it also showed them how those labels were inter-related and overlapping. My own test results are a case-in-point. As a progressive I got 78% in both equality and liberty and only 29% in stability. In other words I gave stability some credence but within limitations. As such I had something in common even with ideological rivals. This understanding is one at odds with present forms of political awareness.

Now more than anytime in my life the default is to assume we are nothing like those we argue with. Combined with this is a sense that many of us now define our politics by what we oppose rather than what we represent (as discussed here). And to the extent we represent something it tends to be defined by demographics rather than ideology. The notion of universals that we can all subscribe to is replaced by clannish interests determined by what we are rather than what we believe.

With all this in mind the Political Objectives Test may be rather obsolete. It can hardly compete with newer and slicker Internet-based interactions fostering a growth in political awareness that is both rapid and rudimentary in nature. I hark back to the many times I stood at polling places for a political party. It was usual for campaigners across party lines to interact well and this frequently surprised the average apolitical voter. The impression of politics as conflict (admittedly bolstered by the use of military words like ‘campaign’ and the play-acting of parliaments) is never disabused by the rushed and distorted forms of indoctrination I now observe online. And since political activity can safely be enacted from ones own room one need never have caricatures of politics challenged.

If you are still interested in my test you can always take it manually at this site of mine. But there are more fun ways of spending time.

British Eccentric Test

The other test of mine that is broken was the result of a conversation with a friend that turned into a silly test done just for fun. The British Eccentric Test can still be taken manually here if you are that way inclined. I suspect only an eccentric would bother.

Incidentally I will be visiting the United Kingdom soon and so will possibly get a chance to observe British eccentrics in their native habitat. I wonder if that will make me want to revise my impressions of what makes them tick.

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  • I came across an newish online test that I like. It uses statements on various issues to determine ones political ideology but, unlike many others, includes a focus on specifically political issues, as well as economic and cultural ones. This seems to work well in distinguishing ideologies, and in giving the test-taker a percentage match to all ten options.

    The test writer also has a good grasp of various political traditions beyond just 'left, right, up, down and centre'. I role-played the various options and found I could get the desired result pretty much each time and, since I know my stuff, this suggests that its writer does to. :)

    Its use of historically grounded terms distinguishes it from my attempt to use, and in some cases re-purpose, more universally applicable terms. So, while my test calls me 'progressive' this test calls me a 'social-liberal' which is the more historically correct term. And, while it uses some specifically American terms like the rather silly 'paleoconservatism' it also refers to the more European 'Christian democracy' and thus hints at a more worldly outlook than other tests do.

    Anyway, here it is:

    By Blogger Daniel, At 24 January, 2019  

  • A few months ago I shared an online test (comment above) I felt was pretty good (and in many ways similar to mine). Here I'm sharing something a bit different - a model of political ideology complete with a three dimensional chart:

    It is more complex than even my model and the discussion is interesting. It lacks its own test but apparently the author is hoping to correct that.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 23 March, 2019  

  • Another test came my way:

    This one is pretty good in its use of four scales and its presentation of many labels as results. It has a few shortcomings however. Presenting proposals in opposing sets is one. Another is more an issue of how users interpret its interface.

    It presents five positions on a sliding scale for each question. I think most who use it read those positions as (1) definitely yes (2) maybe yes (3) maybe (4) maybe no (5) definitely no.

    I however read it more as (1) absolutely yes (2) yes (3) maybe (4) no (5) absolutely no.

    As I read each statement I ask myself whether the issue at hand is simplified by the text - the answer tends to be yes it is. I also ask myself whether someone exists who believes what I do but more dogmatically so - once more the answer will be yes. Because of this understanding I will then choose positions 2 and 4 far more than I will positions 1 and 5 and still be a person of conviction.

    I think my way of answering produces a result more in keeping with political practice than theory. Very few of us are revolutionary and a test that tells many of us we are needs to clarify what it is asking of us.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 24 May, 2020  

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