NextStage Member Tools Explained

For anybody keeping track, here are our current tool offerings to NextStage Members. We keep adding tools as they become available and will update this list periodically. Some tools require training, some tools require our tracking code be on a digital property, some tools are so new they don’t have their own icons yet.

For those who don’t know, NextStage Membership costs $250US/year. There are lots of other benefits. Come play with our toys. They’re lots of fun and so are we.

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Nostra Culpa re NextStage Sentiment Analysis

NextStage’s Evolution Technology calls for human help whenever it encounters something new, unique, or out of its normal experience. Reading Virtual Minds Vol. 1: Science and History readers know our technology does this because I’ve documented it in that book.

This time our system alerted me about a specific Confidence value (from the Intermediate Sentiment Analysis Report) that was a little askew compared to other values it had determined, so I sent an email to the user who’d run the report and offered to go over it with them so we both could learn what that Confidence value applied to.

On Friday (2 Jul 10) afternoon, after our coders had left for the July 4th weekend, the user wrote back very graciously (thanks!) that they’d need to learn how not to fabricate in their writing.


Their response threw me. What did “fabrication” have to do with this Confidence value?

Development History

Readers who’ve followed NextStage Sentiment Analysis development and beta users may remember that NSSA’s Confidence report grew out of a request from FindMeFaster CEO Matt Van Wagner for a tool that could determine if a blog author was full of BlueSky (Matt had another term) or not.

It took a long time to come up with something that I was comfortable with as determining blue sky because there are so many different factors to determining intentional BS from unintentional BS from joking BS from … This discomfort showed up with almost daily rewrites of the Confidence descriptive text. The rewriting process was similar to Mark Twain’s “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

What we came up with was a Confidence equation that included various BS factors because I couldn’t figure out how to completely separate the two (we can discuss the Confidence-BS link at a convention or training sometime, if you’d like. It’s pretty interesting). I wasn’t completely satisfied with the formulation we came up with, could accept it for what it was and told everyone who was using the tool about my concerns.

Then in early May 2010, during conversations with some brilliant researchers specifically about how BS is formed in cognition, we came up with a way to separate BS from Confidence and proceeded to completely spin off Matt’s BS Meter into a separate tool that dealt with whether or not some writing was fabrication or not.

Mea Culpa

But I focus on the charts whenever I look at our reports, not at the descriptive text included in the reports. I’ve been seeing these charts and such for better than ten years at this point so I simply look at the charts, know what’s being reported and respond to that.

I don’t look at the text anymore.

And I obviously should. When this user emailed me that they needed to work on fabrication I went “Huh?” and looked at the report again. “What does this have to do with fabrication?” Then I looked again. Then again. Then I read the report.
The descriptive text for the Confidence report was:

Confidence Gauge – The above gauge indicates (on a scale of -100 to 100) the author’s confidence in their own material. Values from -100 to -80 can most likely be considered pure fabrication although this may not be the author’s intent. Also note that someone writing fiction is intentionally fabricating information. Skilled authors and dramatists can write pure fiction and this meter will indicate confidence is high merely because they have high confidence in their work. This chart is most applicable to people with moderate to no creative writing training.

That descriptive content was the best we could come up with prior to spinning off the BS Meter. The funny thing (to us) was that the suggestions (not shown here) were based on Confidence metrics, had nothing to do with BS and had been part of the Confidence report from the start. Those never changed.

But we’d spun off the BS Meter.

And we’d written new, more accurate descriptive text for the Confidence report:

Confidence Gauge – The above gauge indicates (on a scale of -100 to 100) the author’s confidence in their own material. Some examples:

  • Values from -100 to -75 can occur when the author believes strongly in their material (is confident) and also believes it will not be well accepted, understood or acted upon by their audience (isn’t confident about its reception).
  • Most research and technical writing will score between -20 and 0 because researchers and technical writers tend to have an “I should check this one more time” mindset.
  • It is common for natives of the USA to score between -15 and +10 when analyzing casual, “every day” writing.
  • Truly confident writers will score between 15 and 35.
  • Scores higher than 80 often indicate the author will come off as either sarcastic or vain, based on the author’s acceptance by their audience.

This chart is most applicable to people with moderate to no creative writing training.

And we (I) completely forgot to put it in.

Let this be proof that I’m not as clever as (it seems) many people think.

Making Amends

It’s amusing that this mistake was discovered after we reported our best sales month ever.

But Principles are Principles and when squeezed, one discovers the flavor of the juice.

So by the time this post sees the light of day, everyone who purchased NextStage Sentiment Analysis use since 12 June 2010 (when the BlueSky Meter was released) will have received email notification that their subscription has been renewed. Please contact NextStage if your subscription isn’t renewed (and have your purchase data handy).

Hey, it’s not exactly an oil spill in the Gulf and we do what we can to make things right.

Posted in Analytics, NextStageology, Sentiment Analysis, ToolsTagged , , , , , , , , , ,