This post is an open call for volunteer researchers to assist with a new People’s Math Front study! ( there is a volunteer form at the end of this post ).
What is the People’s Math Front?
During the 2016 elections, several colleagues & I founded a grassroots research-collective which we dubbed the People’s Math Front. To our surprise, the People’s Math Front was able to crowd-source & coordinate volunteer research assistants who crunched elections data to fact-check numbers reported by the government & the media. Using a crowd-sourced model for research, this website was able to report precise results for Oregon’s democratic primary elections which were more accurate than the Associated Press & even Oregon’s Secretary of State!
About This Study
Today, I’ve begun the first phase of a study which will be researching more than 4,300 responses to a question posed in the popular subReddit called /r/AskReddit. The question was:
“If you had all of your bills paid and could be unemployed for life, what would you do with your time?”
After reading a few hundred responses, it occurred to me that these thousands of responses were a lot like a naturally-occurring survey — an “organic” poll, as it were. I wondered whether it could somehow be converted into useful, measurable data — and, well, one thought led to another & here we are!
After devising a method involving a few garden-variety developer tools, a bit of regex, & the free trial-version of a data-scraping utility ( & after crashing my PC a number of times ), I was able to get all of the raw data into spreadsheets.* I have designed a a 4-point rubric to filter non-usable responses & classify the rest into 12 groups using a letter-based system. After designing a 2nd phase through consensus with the volunteer researchers, the intention is to produce research shedding light on how productive/un-productive people believe they would be if they were free from financial stress & what sorts of things people would want to do.
The research will be published on this site, along with all of the raw data, our methodology, & the results. Everything will be free for everyone to use & distribute however they please because the People’s Math Front was founded by scary anarchists.
If you’d like to know more, feel free to leave a comment with your question! For anyone interested in participating, please submit a volunteer form at this link:
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*If anyone knows of an easier way to mine Reddit data then, for the love of science, please tell me about it. Since Reddit’s API limits calls to their database, my patchwork of self-taught development skills were stretched to the limit by this task. I ended up copying-&-pasting the div element w/ the loaded comments into a text file & using regex to strip all but the comments & usernames, then splitting it into 5 parts wrapped in <html> & <body> tags to bypass a limit of 1000 entries in a free trial for a data-scraper that scrapes to .csv. ‘Twas pretty tedious, to say the least.