Monday, January 11, 2010 jumps the shark by writing a story about a forum containing 129 people

So has a stunningly ridiculous story called Audiences experience 'Avatar' blues. Now, I'm not saying being depressed is ridiculous, that's a very serious issue, but the story is rubbish.

Here's the critical paragraph:

On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator [...] had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

So, dig into that forum and you'll find three interesting things:

1. There are actually only 576 messages (not more than 1,000). Hey, what's an error of 40% between friends? I realize that 576 doesn't sound as impressive as 1,000.

2. 129 different people (or at least registered users) have posted to that thread. Hmm. I realize that 129 people in some forum discussing a topic doesn't sound as impressive as 1,000 posts.

3. Of the 129, 60% of the posts have been made by 16 people. In fact, 50% are the work of 10 people. Also 72 of the people (from 129) posted once. I realize that 16 people actively discussing a topic doesn't sound as good as 1,000 posts.

So a small number of people discussing feeling depressed after seeing Avatar is enough for a front-page story!?

Now, how many of the 129 people (or the 16 if you prefer) were already feeling depressed before they saw the movie?

UPDATE: I've updated the figures (see comments).

UPDATE: The story made it to CNN on TV. Most interesting part is where the story's author says that she talked to the people in the thread and they were "lonely to begin with" and they are "lonely people". They "don't have a lot going on in their lives right now" and that the movie "didn't create depression".


If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.


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