Sunday, February 15, 2015

Roller Derby Relationship and Gender Study Questionnaire

What’s this article about?
I'm writing up a little brief to answer some FAQs regarding my newly-published Roller Derby Relationship and Gender Study (located here: ). I'm looking at the way time spent in roller derby changes who we are, who we date, how we see our bodies, our self identity and some other key factors.

Who am I?!


I'm a player/coach for the Men's Roller Derby of Kentucky team The Dark Horses and a coach of the Central Kentucky Junior Roller Derby team the Sixth Street Slammers as well as being a photographer for leagues all over the region and all over the world at several tournaments. In the real world though I do data analytics at the University of Kentucky.

The Story
The story is that this is actually v2.0 of a survey a friend of mine originally did who wanted to write an article about the results and asked for my help disseminating the original survey. I agreed to help her and she agreed to share the raw data with me to analyze once she closed the survey. The problem was she used free-form text entry on her survey which made it INCREDIBLY hard to classify/categorize!
Ex. “How long have you been involved in roller derby?”
“3 months”
“2.5 years”
“6 seasons”
You can see how this was problematic to analyze. My friend and original creator of the survey saw the terror she had wrought and decided that it wasn't worth sifting through to write an article about. Still, after about two weeks of working with the data I was able (literally after hand-coding around 600+ entries into categories) to get some analysis going. I couldn't deduce much but most of the findings were unsurprising. Most people do NOT change their gender preferences because of derby. What I DID notice in the original study though was that people that identified as anything other than "Straight" tended to 'come out' more while playing derby and reveal what they considered to be their 'true selves'. That made me VERY interested in expanding and refining the survey to make it much more nominal and more easy to analyze. I talked to my friend and she said it was my baby if I wanted it so I took it and have been refining it and trying to get it as inclusive as I could. I'm particularly interested in things regarding changes in gender identity/preference and the number of committed relationships people have and whom they have them with. Strangely enough in my early analysis of data from v2.0 survey I've found some interesting trends not related to gender and identity but just derby as a whole. Particularly that the average age of derby skaters seems to be (slightly) rising (see graph below).

Avg Age of People Starting Derby (Skaters).jpg

What am I going to do with all of this data?!
One of the big questions people ask is 'how does this help the derby community?' My big goal though is to dispel rumors and preconceived notions with cold hard facts and analytics. One of the common jokes around leagues I'm around is that when someone's marriage falls apart that "the Derby Divorce Machine" strikes again. While funny I was also curious if the rate of divorce was higher among derby than the general populous and try to deduce why etc. As far as where I intend to publish the information I run a data visualization blog at where I'll likely publish some visualizations that people will be able to manipulate themselves and play with to find their own little nuggets of truth. The second phase of analysis is that one of my dear friends in derby is also a professor here at the University of Kentucky in Social Work and she asked if I could include some of the questions about comfort level with body image and sexuality in there to give it some 'umph' research-wise. She and I are hoping to write at least one, if not more, academic papers out of this data to publish out in some sociology journals.

Who has access to these results?
Ultimately only 2 people have direct access to these results and they will not be shared in any public way with email addresses (if you chose to put those down) or any sort of identifiable information. I'll likely be stripping out birthday as well since I've already used it to calculate "Age" and "Original Age When Joining Derby" based on the two date fields.

I'm very VERY excited about the amount of data coming in now and I've been making notes for refinements and I'll likely put out another survey of similar nature in about a year or so (to keep the data fresh, discover new data, and answer new questions and fix the survey for those with issues answering in a way that suits their lifestyles). I would still like more international participation and participation from skaters 21 and younger (even down to 15-16) but that requires tapping into a demographic that uses things like instagram and snapchat where it's really hard to deliver a survey link! :-/ If anyone can think of a good way to get to this younger demographic I would LOVE to hear about it!
I'm more than happy to answer any questions or concerns anyone has so please send them my way via my email at or on twitter @wjking0 I want us to better understand ourselves as a derby culture and improve ourselves through self-knowledge.

Much derby <3,

P.S. Any site is allowed to reproduce or publish this page as along as a link to this original article is included.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Where's Waldo?! A Search Algorithm!

I have been feverishly working on a few HUGE viz's coming up so in the meantime I wanted to share something I thought was super fun (if childhood spoiling). A Where's Waldo search algorithm!

Here is the link to the work which is pretty awesome:

And here is something to check out to tide you over until my other big Viz's are complete!