08/08/2011 MM: "Five Hundred and Counting"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!! 500 articles is an incredible portfolio to have, and I must say that your column is one of the two on this site I read each and every week. You give us readers and players access to the inner workings of the game, and the company behind it's thoughts on it, to a level unmatched by pretty much any other business I know.

As for the article itself, though, you once again overgraded. This isn't to say your columns are bad; far from it! If anything this grading problem is only relevant because I and others WANT to read your best work. The trouble lies in the fact that you give such good cores to almost all of your articles that even just reading the 4-star and up installments is a massive ammount.

Doing a quick number crunch (and if I miscounted I apologize, I'm sure someone below will correct me), we have 95 weeks that weren't repeats for holidays. Of these 95 new articles:

2 two-star reviews
42 three-star reviews
33 four-star reviews
18 five-star reviews.

Over half of your articles were self-rated as above average, leading one to wonder what the average is. The average star rating was 3.7, and ultimately these weeks seem to function akin to Guitar Hero ratings where a supposed five pnt. scale is really limited to three, making distinctions more difficult.

Again, part of the problem is that your articles are usually quite informative, but some slightly harsher self-critiques might make it easier for those of us who enjoy your work but don't always have the time for an archive trawl to look at Six Hundred and Counting and more easily grasp what you feel your strongest works are.

Still, congratulations again, and may we see five hundred more!
I always wonder, why make a 1/5 rating when you do not use it.  You assign a few 5/5, but are hesitant to give the 1/5.
He still didn't mention how he forgot about imprint.
blah blah metal lyrics
well so i wish he would have said something about the lost of jms (Jma is so much cooler now tho)
He still didn't mention how he forgot about imprint.


He did it over Twitter, but since not everyone follows him there you're right, he probably should have mentioned it here too.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!! 500 articles is an incredible portfolio to have, and I must say that your column is one of the two on this site I read each and every week. You give us readers and players access to the inner workings of the game, and the company behind it's thoughts on it, to a level unmatched by pretty much any other business I know.



Actually, he really hasn't hit 500 yet, as many of them were repeats.  To get an accurate counts of actual articles you'll have to figure out how many Xmas, New Years, and Memorial Days are there.
Hey everyone,

The rating issue comes up every time I do one of these columns. 3 is not the average. 3 is the minimum I find acceptable each week. I try very hard to do better than 3 but I know writing a weekly column that it's impossible to excel each and every week. 

Note that if I know a column is 1 or 2, I rewrite it. That's why there are so few of them. Why bother with the 1 & 2 ratings then? Because despite my best intentions, in the last 500 weeks I have written articles of 1 and 2 quality. My rating system is me honestly trying to reflect what I think of my own columns (which, by the way, is very subjective). Also remember that my rating system is static meaning that a 3 now means the same thing a 3 meant when I rated my first hundred columns.

Why is my average going up over time? To quote Malcolm Gladwell (well, paraphrase actually) - the number one thing that determines quality is experience. I feel weeks 401-500 are better than weeks 1-100 because I've had seven and a half more years of doing it. 

All that said, I may have overrated (or underrated)  some columns. That's what this thread is for. Chime in where I oversold or undersold my own work. I'm trying to constantly improve and to do that I need the feedback (Malcolm Gladwell again).

As far as imprint goes, I just forgot last week. I knew it was the reprint because I had to have one, but I just mind blanked while writing last week's column. The reason I didn't mention it this week is that this column is a bear already (this series of articles are the longest columns I write by word count) and I just didn't have space to say anything off topic. 

I'm very excited to have hit the 500 week mark (I'll hit the 500th column in a few months if my math is correct) and I thank you all for joining me every week.

Sincerely,

Mark 
grats maro, keep it up, u write some of the best articles on this site
cant wait for next week, i know i sent u some twitter questions, maybe theyll get answered lol- good lookin out
Incidentally, what are your top 5 article titles?

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

You invite us to say where we feel your ratings were off. I think there were two conspicuous places:


  • "The Bleed Story" isn't even close to a five-star column. The topic is interesting, but in practise the article seemed full of faulty analogies that were more confusing than they were helpful. I'd give it two or three.

  • Besides not being crazy about the intro, "Out of the Closet, Part one" (and to a lesser extent part two) just bored me to tears. I don't know whether I'm explaining why or lodging a second, totally unrelated complaint when I add that it was also the first time I can remember that there was zero clearly design-related content. In any case, I'd knock a star off that one.

Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
MaRo's readership sure likes to misunderstand everything he says

(Unrelated PS -- just who got offended at the opening of the tshirt article, and how??)
It's probably because coming out is an incredibly difficult and personal process in a society where homophobia runs rampant and you can't be guaranteed of anyone's support, not even that of your own family. So maybe it's not appropriate to make a joke out of it?
I noticed that the articles for weeks 489 and 490 both link to the "80 000 words" picture articles instead of the articles they are supposed to. Just wanted to point that out.
Congrats, Mark. Your column is overwhelmingly the reason I have DailyMTG bookmarked. 

I have to agree with jeff-heikkinen, The Bleed Story spends a lot of time building an analogy but the connection between the metaphor and the reality of Magic wasn't explained. It didn't help me at all in understanding the topic. If this were Slashdot, I'd have modded it (-1 Offtopic). It might be a 5-star column once you write the follow-up that actually explains your model.
It's probably because coming out is an incredibly difficult and personal process in a society where homophobia runs rampant and you can't be guaranteed of anyone's support, not even that of your own family. So maybe it's not appropriate to make a joke out of it?



Whereas I'm pansexual and thought the 'out of the closet' pun was the best part of the article.

Yeah - homophobia is rampant in society, and it's horrible that there is a closet for people to come out of (as opposed to it not being a big enough deal for society for someone to be motivated to keep their sexuality secretive and hidden rather than just there), but that's no reason to put blanket bans on silly puns that are utterly harmless. I'd be right up there against the joke if it were making fun of non-heterosexual sexualities but... It isn't.

It wasn't a masterpiece of comedy, sure, silly puns rarely are, but it certainly wasn't in the slightest bit offensive.
I'd say the "Out of the Closet" coloumns could each be tacked one star down, and I didn't think the Bloodthirst Week coloumn was strictly 4-material either.

I think you've done a good job of selecting the best articles for 5-star ratings (I can't recall the "Bleed" one mentioned), but I don't know if giving the best rating to a fifth of the articles can still mean "creme de la creme". That's for you to decide, I guess.

Oh and so I don't forget; Congratulations! I've read the last 400 or so (still working back through the oldest), and this is an amazing archive to boast of
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
The links don't work for me (using Google Chrome) because the words 'magic', 'magazine' and 'article' need to be capitalized in the link.
Stop using "IMO" in sentences that aren't opinion. If you don't think a deck will ever be tier 1, that's great - but it's not an opinion. It's a prediction of the future. I identify as neither male nor female. You may refer to me with either gender pronoun or the singular they, whichever suits you best. ^_^ Re: Dismember
97543238 wrote:
Everybody knows that having your awesome creatures killed before they can do anything is frustrating, but the Red mage in me doesn't seem to understand why it's so bad when his creatures spontaneously combust into Flame Javelins and make his opponent discard something at the same time.
Currently Working On: Self-Mill (Standard)
Hi all, regular reader, irregular poster here. Out of curiosity though, shouldn't people have something better to talk about in a Magic forum than the use of Apple products in the text/images of an article? His comments about the backlash were rather startling (enough even to get me to post here). The design lessons are important, regardless of whether you like/dislike Apple.
Whereas I'm pansexual and thought the 'out of the closet' pun was the best part of the article.



Well I'm punsexual and it still turned me off.
Congratulations on 500 weeks!

It's funny to see someone complain that you have too few columns rated one or two stars.  I guess during the next hundred weeks you should write a few stinkers just to make them happy?  :D

I was expecting "Feel the Burn" would only get one star, though.
He still didn't mention how he forgot about imprint.


He did it over Twitter, but since not everyone follows him there you're right, he probably should have mentioned it here too.


Ah yes, well, I actually just got around to getting Twitter a few days ago, so I'd have missed that.
blah blah metal lyrics
Excellent archive article. My only problem with the lack of one or two stars is that I think its not being exactly honest. Yes the majority of articles are good but is it really believable that next to everything is at least medicore. I get rewriting obvious stinkers but this article feel like it should take a step back and ask was this article really that 'popular. 
Thank's for the response (see, this is what I'm talking about!). I still somehwat feel you're limiting you design space but I respect the logic behind your efforts to not let any sub-three articles go to print.

Individual score wise I'd knock both halves of the shirt story down a peg, as well as boht of your "memory experiment" pairing. It may have been fun to write, but the result was far more interesting on an intellectual level than as a pair of good reads. On the other hand, I'd consider bumping the bloodthirst article up to five stars (I loved that piece, though it's still too fresh to see if it will hold up).
Excellent archive article. My only problem with the lack of one or two stars is that I think its not being exactly honest. Yes the majority of articles are good but is it really believable that next to everything is at least medicore. I get rewriting obvious stinkers but this article feel like it should take a step back and ask was this article really that 'popular. 


The rating isn't based on popularity. His five stars tend to include the most controversial ones, and for good reason: memorability is a mark of quality, whether it comes in the form of infamy or adoration.

As he said, three stars isn't average, it's his cut-off point for what makes it to submission. Of course there won't be many 1 or 2 star articles, because we don't get to see them. That doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm sure he's written at least a handful of articles, or at least started them, only to later realize it wasn't up to his standards and rewrote it. Since he explained his scale in the article, it's a fair metric to use.

The fact that Mark has written so many articles (not quite 500, due to repeats, but still well over 400) and still finds content worthy of a five star rating is testament to his genius. The fact that such deep articles can still be written about Magic after all this time is testament to the depth of the game. We should all be happy his articles rated so high, rather than calling foul. But if you disagree with his ratings on individual articles, this is the place to do it. It's hard to self-evaluate, which is why he asked for feedback - to keep him honest, and give him the knowledge needed to improve for 600 and counting.
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Hi all, regular reader, irregular poster here. Out of curiosity though, shouldn't people have something better to talk about in a Magic forum than the use of Apple products in the text/images of an article? His comments about the backlash were rather startling (enough even to get me to post here). The design lessons are important, regardless of whether you like/dislike Apple.



Because many feel those design lessons are more subjective than objective, things you just like because you like Apple, and many do not like Apple's philosophy.