9th Annual Internet Wooden Coaster Poll opens

Posted Friday, November 2, 2001 4:34 AM | Contributed by Wolf

Through the end of November, Mitch Hawker is taking ballots for the definitive wooden coaster poll. Started in 1994, his unique ranking system eliminates the "popular ride bias" seen in many other polls.

Vote now!

Friday, November 2, 2001 4:44 AM
Jeff's avatar The only problem with the poll is that it doesn't reject rides that have only a few votes. If a ride can be number one based on a handful of votes, I consider it bad data. I mean, can you really rank a ride in Japan #22 based on two votes? Can Tonnerre de Zeus really be #1 according to 15 people? In those cases, I'd rather go by the popularity contests.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Friday, November 2, 2001 4:47 AM
With prior polls, anything w/ fewer than 5 voters was eliminated. 15 is fairly statistically significant, all else equal. I would still say the upshot is better than the downshot, as you don't see mediocre rides that everyone has ridden, like The Beast, sneaking into the Top 10 purely on strength of number of riders. *** This post was edited by Wolf on 11/2/2001. ***
Friday, November 2, 2001 5:16 AM
Both of you raise valid points.  Some excellent coasters are consistently voted down by sheer numbers (or lack thereof) in standard "popularity contest" polls, but at the same time if only a few people have been on a given ride, it's hard to judge how good it REALLY is.

If nothing else, Mitch's approach gives a different and interesting perspective.

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Friday, November 2, 2001 5:46 AM
GregLeg is right about Mitch's approach giving a different perspective when it comes to rating coasters.  I have always appreciated the fact that his system makes it possible for a great but out-of-the-way coaster to get rated highly, which isn't possible in "popularity contest" ratings. Jeff, however, also raises a good point about a few people being able to sway the entire thing, as is the case with Tonnerre De Zeus.

I have found that Mitch's poll is most informative when you look at the results from years gone by and see how coasters move in the ratings.  To me, that seems to be the best way to see how people really feel about a coaster (the Great Escape Comet only moving down 4 places last year, despite so many great woodies being opened is a good example).

Friday, November 2, 2001 6:19 AM
Mitch's poll has one real weakness:

limited head-to-heads can greatly swing a coaster's result. Aska and Tonnerre benefitted from this last year, especially vs the top 10. (Aska was dropped from the final, however, due to too few votes)

This year, Thundercoaster at Tusenfryd is currently being hurt by it. (It's one rider has a spate of really good coasters, and Tusenfryd leads the pack. Meaning, as a potential top-20 ride, it's almost 0-fer, as it would land near 20)

So it does go both ways.

Wonder if the Grizzly will come up in last again.
It went 0-112-0 last year (0-260-1 in the last two years), and has been dead last since 1996. *** This post was edited by Wolf on 11/2/2001. ***

Friday, November 2, 2001 6:41 AM
Jeff, nice site.

I have never understood that criticism of this poll. I always include the number of people who rated each coaster with the rankings so that anyone can tell how many people's opinions that ranking reflects.

Would you really rather that coasters such as Tonnerre de Zeus that fewer people have ridden have no chance at the top ranking?

Last year, nine people indicated they had ridden both TdZ and Raven. Seven indicated that they preferred TdZ, one preferred Raven, and one did not differentiate between them. TdZ ranked #1, Raven #9.

Contrast that with Amusement Today's ranking of Raven #1, TdZ #18. I would bet that TdZ was also preferred to Raven by a wide margin of AT's readers who had ridden both but their system ranks it #18. That is an example of the bias created by a popularity poll when ridership varies so greatly.

Friday, November 2, 2001 7:24 AM

I would disagree that TdZ benefitted from limited head to heads last year as none of the comparisons with the top ten were very close.

It could even be argued that TdZ was hurt by limited head to head comparisons last year as the only 'blemish' on its record was a 1-1 tie with Stampida that would likely have broken TdZ's way with additional comparisons.

Friday, November 2, 2001 9:13 AM
Since when was the Beast mediocre!!!

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Friday, November 2, 2001 9:33 AM
Jeff's avatar Mitch: Welcome to CoasterBuzz. Feel free to submit your poll site in the contribute section to make it a permanent addition to the sites area. Most news items tend to send hundreds of people to the sites, so I hope this gives you a larger sample.

Overall, your poll is a better way to determine which coasters are best. You've certainly got my support. The flaw is in the sample size only, not the methodology. If Zeus had 30 votes on it, then I'd feel better about it.

Amusement Today's poll, not to mention our very own Coasters' Choice Awards, are popularity contests, no doubt about it. Is that a bad thing? I don't necessarily think so, but then I don't tend to rank my track record either. Coasting beats working any way you look at it.

These rides do deserve recognition. I won't argue against that. But to put them in the Pepsi challenge, I'd just like to see a larger sample.

And I agree with Wolf: The Beast is highly over-rated, save for the part after the second lift.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Friday, November 2, 2001 10:04 AM
I agree with Gregleg because ride like Mamba, Rampage, Dana Beach Cyclone, Medusa(SFMexico) ,Monte Makaya, Kantun, Titan(Japan), Fujiyama are sometimes underrated and easily shot down because not many people have ridden them. Unless you have at least a hundred people(for fair judgement) ride every coaster in the world, you can't give a fair vote.

 In Japan, I saw at least a dozen hypers and inverted coasters(along with a couple of great woodies) that I have never heard of till I saw rode them myslef.  I can tell you one thing, if you took some of Japan unknown coasters and put them in the USA, they could hit the top ten list in a heartbeat.  Titan in Japan is an awsome hyper with a turnaround more twisted than the finale of Superman:Ride of SteelSFNE.

Friday, November 2, 2001 10:35 AM
I don't think your going to find ANY poll that covers the globe fairly. Not unless some of us hit the lottery. The best you can do is make the poll as fair as possible. I think Mitch's poll does that.
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Friday, November 2, 2001 11:09 AM
Mitch - First of all, I love your poll, as I think it presents the truest measure of enthusiast opinions of any poll. That said, maybe you can help me with something that's had me befuddled for a couple years.

I have noticed that some people - for whatever reason - decide to only list their top ten when responding to your poll. Does that not skew the results *against* some outstanding coasters? For example, if I were to just list my top ten wood, it might go like this:

1) Shivering Timbers   2) Legend  3) Villain  4) Phoenix  5) Coney Island Cyclone  6) Raven  7) Comet   8) Lightning Racer  9) Twister  10) Lakeside Cyclone

If I am reading your poll correctly, would only listing my top ten result in a record for Shivering Timbers of 9-0, and a record for the Lakeside Cyclone of 0-9? The fault with that is that if I listed all my woodies, Shivering Timbers would have a 45-0 record, and Lakeside Cyclone would have a 36-9 record.

So, having said all that, wouldn't it be MUCH BETTER for poll results if everybody ranked ALL their woodies or simply didn't participate at all?


Friday, November 2, 2001 11:42 AM
Jeff: Thanks for the warm welcome. Over 200 visitors have come from Coasterbuzz to the poll site already today.

Just one more goodhearted jab at other coaster polls: they don't even bother to tell us how many of their respondants had actually ridden e.g. TdZ.

Daryl: First, thank you for the kind words.

I don't dispute your conclusion but I do find fault with how you got there. I believe that most people who take the poll do rank all they have ridden. If you look at the ballots that only list 10 or so coasters, it is usually obvious geographically that that person indeed has had limited riding experience but is rating those few he/she has ridden to the best of their ability.

Friday, November 2, 2001 2:21 PM
Acrophobia : Please don't forget the Bandit... I love that coaster!

I think that this poll is one of the best attempts I've seen, but it also favors ones that have been ridden more, since more votes will be cast for them.

So let's say everyone thought Shivering Timbers was #1, but one guy from Europe thought that TdZ was better, so he ranked ST #2 and TdZ #1. No one else ranked TdZ... would TdZ win in that case? According to your ballot, it should but is that a good way to determine the results?

I thought of an idea in which you should give more credit to those who turn in a bigger sample. If someone has ridden 100 woodies, his votes should carry more weight than someone who has only ridden two. Maybe you could set up an arbitrary point system and weight it accordingly, even though this is what you set out to avoid. It might be a good idea to have a different poll for European and Domestic coasters as well, even though we'd all love to see how they match up.

If someone says that this makes the poll unfair, so what? Polls are popluarity contests, everyone knows that.


-djansi *** This post was edited by djansi on 11/2/2001. ***

Friday, November 2, 2001 4:53 PM
I always love to see this poll and wondered what the heck happened to it and the proposed 2000 "Steel" Coaster Poll. The voting system I think is the best I've ever seen come up with. Definitely way more accurate than populatity contests to the upmost degree. Please! If this goes well, do another Steel Tracked poll. Thanks a million!

Danny, who also thinks The Beast is overrated(an overrated word within itself), although a unique and thrilling ride with one exception-the night rides!! I would much rather ride SOB!!!!  :)

Friday, November 2, 2001 10:01 PM
if you look closely, this is essentially how Mitch's poll works.
Saturday, November 3, 2001 6:08 AM

Wolf is correct. Each person's preference between two coasters has equal weight but the number of comparisons varies as the square of the number of coasters ridden so a person who has ridden 100 coasters will weigh in on 100 times more comparisons than someone who has ridden 10 coasters.


I have decided that updating the steel ballot with all the new coasters of various types is more than I care to take on each year.

When I did run the steel poll (1999), considerably fewer people took it, which, when combined with the greater number of coasters on the ballot caused some comparisons to be based on very small sample size.

Besides "My Favorite Wood" won the steel poll handily. :) *** This post was edited by Mitch Hawker on 11/3/2001. ***

Saturday, November 3, 2001 12:13 PM
I also agree that Mitch's poll is the most fair way to judge the quality of a coaster. If you put Oakwood's Megafobia in the United States I'd be willing to bet that it would be in everybody's top five. But because it's in the middle of absolutely nowhere - there are still many members of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain and the European Coaster Club who have never ridden it due to its's remoteness - it doesn't get the recognition it deserves in other polls because of it's relatively low ridership compared to US coasters.
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Saturday, November 3, 2001 3:52 PM
Mitch, is there somewhere we can view the ballots already submitted or do you wait and do that when the final numbers for the park are released. I understand what you're saying and the shear number of steel coasters was why I was interested just to see where and how they were ranked. Thanks anyway and I'm just glad to see it return.



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