It's fair to say the release of the Newschoolers Park Poll results last Friday caused something of a shitstorm. Much of it was par for the course, whenever you release a poll, someone is always going to be mad their favourite spot missed out or somewhere they hate made it. But much of the backlash was also based on a misunderstanding surrounding how the result was actually reached. In order to provide clarity, if not solace, here's how the results are calculated.
The final ranking of the resorts is based on a 50/50 split of two data sets.
1. The results of our Park Poll
We asked you to rate the quality of the parks you ride and compiled the resulting data. We ran IP checks to try to minimize the effect of multiple voting and of multiple resort staff skewing the results, and then calculated average scores for each resort. Resorts that receive a high number of ratings also receive bonus points to weight the results, as a high average score with 300 individual ratings is more telling than one with 30. Over the years, the Park Poll method has been constantly tweaked to try to prevent bias in the data, but given the sample size and the distribution of skiers across resorts, it's still far from perfect.
2. SPT Data On Park Features
As part of their consulting operations and in order to facilitate these polls, Snowparks Technologies collect data on parks all over the country. That data includes:
- Number of features. The logic here being that, other things being equal, more features make for a better park.
- How well those features cater to a variety of different ability levels, from beginner to expert. Some of the big name parks fall short in their offering of progression features, which bumps them down the list.
- How many man hours are allocated to maintenance, because more labor tends to equate to better maintenance.
The scores are then combined to rank the resorts and the resulting of the top 10 was as published. We took a dive into the data on both sides of the split as a result of member feedback, but found no evidence of anything untoward in the data used.
We're under no illusion that the method is perfect and we hope to improve it again for the coming season. However to further clarify, Resorts advertising packages have no influence on the result, nor is it possible to pay to place in the poll. Furthermore, there is also no financial relationship between Newschoolers and SPT. We team up on this poll because we find it mutually beneficial. From us, SPT gain feedback, on both their parks and others, that they wouldn't otherwise have easy access to. And we use the SPT data to provide a quantitative backbone to what would otherwise essentially be a popularity contest.