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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aaaaaaaaaaa's Law

I saw this page on Wikipedia. It's a list of laws named after people, such as "Goodwin's Law", "Fourier's Law", or "Faraday's law". The list was sorted alphabetically. That made me think of a good addition:

Aaaaaaaaaaa's Law - In any alphabetical listing, someone will pick a name starting with "Aaaaaaaaaaa" so they can be first in the list.

In certain academic fields, the custom is to list co-authors alphabetically, rather than by importance of contribution. This leads to bias in favor of people whose name is at the beginning of the alphabet. They surveyed academics in those fields, and found they were more likely to have names near the beginning of the alphabet, compared to the general population.

Look in the yellow pages. "AAA Plumbing" would be more likely to get business than "FSK Plumbing", because it comes first in the alphabetical listing.

1 comment:

eagledove9 said...

Didn't I tell you to stop trying to rupture my appendix (with laughter)?

I agree with you on this. But it doesn't just start with AAAAAAAAAA, they go into the numbers or even punctuation sometimes and start their names with 1111111111, or ~~~~~~~~, or whatever characters are allowed. However, Aaaaaaaaaaa's law is much easier to say than ~~~~~~~~~~~`'s law. Aaaaaaaaa gets the point across and people know exactly what you mean.

This phenomenon bothers me on web pages where you have to scroll through things in a linear way, and have no other choice for how to find somebody. You always wonder if the ONE WONDERFUL THING THAT YOU'VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR ALL YOUR LIFE starts with the letter Z, and the only way to find it is to click sequentially through 10,000 "next page" links to reach the end.

I ALWAYS notice this, so the first priority, every time I'm looking through those types of web pages, is finding a way to hack the URL so that you can jump ahead to results much further on, and avoid clicking 'next, next, next...' But sometimes, you don't know where the end is, and you jump too far, and have to try again to find out where the end of the list is. Or you don't go far enough.

By that time, you are asking yourself if this is really necessary, and if something beginning with Aaaaaaaaaa might be just fine after all for your purposes. And you've wasted so much time just jumping from place to place and hacking URLs that you haven't even discovered yet whether the answer to life, the universe, and everything is written somewhere in the "Z" listings.

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