Blameworthiness and the Anonymous Judge: An Analysis of FML Categories

The website Fmylife was created on January 13, 2008 and serves as a blog for people to post anecdotes relating to unfortunate goings on (either by their doing or others’) in their lives. The stories that are published allow readers of the blog to essentially assess the placement of blame for each anecdote. As Wiki so succinctly puts it, “anybody who visits the site can decide if the writer of each anecdote’s life indeed “sucks” [‘fuck your life’ or ‘FYL’] or if he or she “deserved” what happened [‘you deserved it’ or ‘YDI’].”
The FML posts belong to one of seven categories: Love, Money, Kids, Work, Health, Miscellaneous, and Intimacy.

Party on.

Anyway, me being me, I wanted to see if people rating the FMLs rated them differently (FYL vs. YDI) depending on the category of the FML. That is, I wanted to see whether people assigned blame (quantified by the number of YDIs voted) to the anecdote poster differently depending on what category the FML belonged to.

a) People would assign blame to the poster more readily when the anecdote belonged to more “personal” or “individual” category (Money and Health, maybe Miscellaneous).
b) People would be more willing to say FYL to the poster if the anecdote is from a category that involved other individuals (Love or Kids or Work).

Utilizing the “random FML” button, I acquired a random sample of 30 FMLs per each category, save the Intimacy category (‘cause FMLs from that category are not included in the random search). I noted the number of FYLs and the number of YDIs for each anecdote and then computed a paired t-test comparison of mean differences for each category.

H0: µFYL =  µYDI for all categories. This means that there is no significant difference between the mean number of FYLs and the mean number of YDIs, regardless of the category.

Ha: µFYL <  µYDI for Money and Health categories (meaning most people would assign blame to the poster) and µFYL >  µYDI for Love, Kids, and Work categories (meaning most people would NOT assign blame to the poster).

Analyses were done in R. All t-tests were performed under the assumption of unequal variances, as was indicated by the Levene Tests for each group (performed using the lawstat package in R).

Love: t(29) = 5.04, p < 0.0001*
Money: t(29) = 1.76, p = 0.09
Kids: t(29) = 4.24, p = 0.0002*
Work: t(29) = 3.85, p = 0.0005*
Health: t(29) = 1.601, p = 0.06
Miscellaneous: t(29) = 0.922, p = 0.3641
*significant at the 0.05 level

So what does this mean?

While the results were statistically insignificant for one “individual-based” groups Money and Health (and Miscellaneous, but I didn’t have any specific hypotheses regarding that category), my second hypothesis received statistical support!
That is, at the 0.05 level of significance, significantly fewer readers place blame on the individual FML poster in the categories of Love, Kids, and Work—categories that were deemed by me to be those that involved the actions of others more than just the action of the individual poster.

So I guess we can very loosely conclude based on my oh-so-scientific way of categorizing the categories (haha) that people who vote on Fmylife tend to assign blame more readily to the individual poster when said poster’s anecdote belongs to a category that includes more individual-based actions than when the anecdote belongs to a category that includes the actions of others.


30-Day Meme – Day 5: Your favorite quote.
I’m not much of a quote person, but I still really like the quote I used in my senior yearbook: “become who you are,” as said by Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s such a simple quote and kind of sums up what I think life is all about.

Haha, I don’t have much more to say about today’s meme entry.

3 responses

  1. I think it’s awesome that someone would do this, but I’m not smart enough to understand it. FML


    1. Haha, yeah, the presentation of stats can be intimidating sometimes. Thanks for the comment!


  2. […] Blameworthiness and the Anonymous Judge: An Analysis of FML Categories – My hypothesis was supported! WOO! I’d also like to expand this study at some point. […]


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