Monday, May 1, 2017

In trouble again-

It’s turning into a horserace over what sort of Henry Bemis Books posts those they reach dislike the most.

We started tracking the numbers last year and found that, consistently, the most unlikes, hides, and hide alls were clicked against posts dealing with black, gay, female or Jewish (a smaller category we call, “Hunh?” as they defy categorization.

The benchmark remains June 2016, when 19.4% of Henry Bemis posts got some form of negative feedback.

June was Gay Pride Month, and Henry featured profiles of thirty LGBT authors. Lesson? June can bust out all over, but queers’ place is in the closet.

Now, however, we’ve seen Women’s History Month (March, 15.9%) and National Poetry Month break out of the pack (April, 18.8).

This is not entirely surprising, as women commonly encompass gay and straight ones and all the usual colors of persons.

Ditto poets.

Still, I was dispirited after a number of months of slowly pushing the negatives down toward the 2% average Facebook says is where cranks and sea monsters dwell. But there was no one warn me; no one to say, “Beware the Hides of March.”

Colleagues suggest I am overthinking this. They say, “I didn’t like poetry in school. They didn’t either.” Or, “Under Thomas Carlyle’s theory of history, it’s all made by Great Men.” Maybe, too, some people don’t like identity politics as embodied by commemorative months.

I cite the reply of the kid in The New Yorker cartoon:

“It’s broccoli, dear.”
“I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it!”

Studies show that, of those who give negative feedback, they do so for a wide array of reasons, including that they thit's its like checking read items off their to-do lists. A tiny number of negative clickers produce the most, too, and we find support for that in the clustering of bad marks on some days, but not most.

The wider a post’s reach, too, the more likely- statistically- that someone, somewhere, will dislike it (an April 5 post on H.L. Mencken’s 1926 obscenity trial- his American Mercury magazine published a story about a prostitute- got 1 Hide. I titled it with the Sage of Baltimore’s famous definition of puritanism: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy."). And so we see that the April posts getting the most heat also reached the most people. Measured by reach, the level of pecksniffery can be seen as quite small (Mencken’s 1 Hide was 0.0068% of the 147 people it reached, for example).

Auden, who annoys many, even 40 years after he died, for being gay and a strikingly religious poet, got 3 Hides, but they’re only 0.0039% of 757.

On the other hand, if you calculate the three Hides as a percentage of engagement: the 22 of 757 who actually did something- click the link, share, etc., Auden’s in hot water with a 13.8% negative poll.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics: how to make sense of it all.

By mid-April, the negative feedback was up to an eye-popping 34%. I tried an experiment: to guess which posts would irk The Muppet Show’s Sam the Eagle, and not share those outside Henry’s page.

After six days with no negative feedback, #29 of my thirty poets series came up: Melvin Tolson, legendary African-American college debate coach (Denzel played him in the movie) and one-time poet laureate of Liberia.

And up came the last Hide of April, right on schedule.

This cartoon even got a Hide. Go figure.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We enjoy hearing from visitors! Please leave your questions, thoughts, wish lists, or whatever else is on your mind.