NationStates Jolt Archive

The PERFECT Political Spectrum\Political Compass

President Shrub
24-07-2005, 02:33
As I mentioned in a thread a long time ago, I am currently working on a political quiz. None of it's exactly finished, but I'm just trying to work out the algorithm for generating the results first and then I'll work on the quiz after that.

But I HAVE finished the model. I know I previously mentioned that I was doing a 3-dimensional model (found here ( Well, I've had to scrap that idea and I'll explain why. The political spectrum CANNOT be plotted on a single graph, because there are too many variables to consider.

First of all, the two main branches of political policy are domestic and foreign. Domestic is a large category comprised of economic policy and social policy. Foreign policy also shares the same division, with how much the government is concerned with the economics and morality of foreign governments. However, foreign could be reduced to simply one category. So, this creates three categories:
Economic Freedom (More)<-->(Less)
Social (More)<-->(Less)
Foreign (More)<-->(Less)

And each originally would have made up a 3-D graph, which measures each based upon the amount of freedom. The Economist's third dimension "political freedom," is also incorrect, because the amount of political freedom is in direct proportion to the amount of social and economic freedom, so they are directly implied. Their 3-D graph would be best done on a triangular graph, than a 3-D chart.

However, I realized that freedom is not black and white. There are different kinds of liberty. According to political science, there is "positive" liberty (increased freedom through political action) and "negative" liberty (freedom from coercision). In many cases, two decisions were not merely pro-liberty or anti-liberty, but different kinds of liberty, for different people.

Consider the death penalty. Being for the death penality means you support the negative liberty of convicted criminals, with their right to be free from the coercision of execution. Being against the death penalty means you support the positive liberty of victims of crime to get what they percieve as justice. So, either way, being for or against the death penalty, either way you support liberty, but different kinds and for different people.

And this needed to be taken out. But this tripled the amount of categories:
Positive Liberty Economic policy
Negative Liberty Economic policy
Anti-liberty Economic policy

Positive Liberty Social Policy
Negative Liberty Social Policy
Anti-liberty Social Policy

Positive Liberty Foreign Policy
Negative Liberty Foreign Policy
Anti-liberty Foreign Policy

So, a single graph would be impossible. For weeks, I couldn't figure out what to do. Three 3-D graphs or three bar-graphs side-by side would look silly. And I wanted to do something novel. But then while I was in the shower a couple of days ago, I was thinking about the game, the Legend of Zelda---THE TRIFORCE! :D

It was the perfect idea. In case you don't know what the Triforce is, it's a symbol in the Zelda games of three triangles stacked on top of eachother. Well, I decided to create three triangular-shaped graphs based upon the triforce. My original model can be found here:

But that still didn't work, because in standard triangular graphs, every third variable needs to be dependent upon the previous two. That isn't always the case with positive, negative, and anti-liberty.

So, I invented my own system of graphing on a triangle, which simply plots a point in the center of a triangular graph by determining the relative strength of each quality. It's rather difficult to explain, but if you view it, it's easy to understand. Take a look:

On that last image, I originally did not have a step four, but the point in the center of the triangle was the person's point in the political spectrum. However, doing that form of graphing, the dot could never reach a great deal of places within the triangle, including the ends. However, every possible point generated by this form of graphing would create a circle. And so, the final output is graphed on a circle, in step four.

This is also neat, because once the quiz is designed, it will create a true "political compass," in a way that's never been done before. (Oh, and on a side-note.. Don't bother going to or They're just test files for PHP I'm programming, and aren't anything of interest.) And also, this method of graphing has the added benefit that you could add countless aspects to determining the political spectrum. In other words, it's modular. It can give you a broad generalization of one's political spectrum, with three compasses, or if you wanted to be even more specific, you could add as many compasses as you like. This accomodates people who claimed that the political spectrum has dozens of aspects which cannot be accounted for in a single graph (and I agree).
Mods can be so cruel
24-07-2005, 02:37
Bravo! Where is the link for it? Is it that bottom one?
Mods can be so cruel
24-07-2005, 02:40
Hey, I could do testing on this thing if you want, so that you can find out how certain groups fit into the spectrum analysis. But I must say, the idea is brilliant. Good job Shrub. Good job. New nomination for Grand Prix poster, coming up!
President Shrub
24-07-2005, 03:08
Bravo! Where is the link for it? Is it that bottom one?
Still isn't finished yet. An explanation of how the basic model works, mathematically, is here:

But like I said, I'm still working on writing and testing the code for even the basic model. I don't have any actual pages for it yet, just code that I'm testing and debugging. I still haven't even calculated the exact size of the circle for the final graph, but am just trying to plot the three points (for step one). After that, I'll need to create the triangle, and plot the point on the circle.

I'm really an amateur programmer... I know what I'm doing, of course, but it's slower because I have to do a lot of debugging and have to keep a PHP reference handy, to make sure I have the proper syntax (PHP's syntax is also FUCKING ANNOYING for anyone who knows what I'm talking about). But don't worry, when the quiz is finished, I'll start a thread about it. But it's still gonna be probably anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months before it's finished.
President Shrub
24-07-2005, 03:11
Hey, I could do testing on this thing if you want, so that you can find out how certain groups fit into the spectrum analysis. But I must say, the idea is brilliant. Good job Shrub. Good job. New nomination for Grand Prix poster, coming up!
I don't need to figure out anything for specific groups, because it's totally neutral. Every question adds a number to either positive, negative, or anti-liberty, based on a scale relative to the other answers within the same category within that question.

And until the quiz is totally finished, I can do the testing myself. After the quiz is finished, I'll need more than one person to test it... But I'll just release it, and let people give me their feedback, like I did with the previous quiz I was testing. Unlike the previous quiz, I doubt I'll have to do any weighting, either, but then again, you never know...