The Grand Locus / Life for statistical sciences



Meet planktonrules

Some of you may remember planktonrules from my series on IMDB reviews. For those of you who missed it, planktonrules is an outlier. In my attempt to understand what IMDB reviewers call a good movie, I realized that one reviewer in particular had written a lot of reviews. When I say a lot, I mean 14,800 in the last 8 years. With such a boon, I could not resist the temptation to use his reviews to analyze the variation of style between users, and to build a classifier that recognizes his reviews.

I finally got in contact with Martin Hafer (planktonrule’s real name) this year, and since he had planned to visit Barcelona, we set up a meeting in June. I have to admit that I expected him to be a sort of weirdo, or a cloistered sociopath. The reality turned out to be much more pleasant; we had an entertaining chat, speaking very little about movie reviews. He also pointed out to me that doing statistics on what people write on the Internet is a bit weird... True that.

Anyway, as an introduction, here is a mini interview of planktonrules. You can find out more about him and about his movie reviews on his blog

1. Why the name planktonrules?
Planktonrules comes from the Spongebob cartoon. Unfortunately, many folks think I am a marine biologist because of my choice!

2. Do you have ghostwriters, or did you write all reviews signed planktonrules?
I wrote everything myself. In fact, friends and family very rarely even read my reviews after I write them.

3. Did you realize that you wrote more than 3 times the size of the full Harry Potter series in IMDB reviews?
I didn’t realize just how much I’d written until you pointed that I guess when you write a tiny bit every single day for about a decade, it all adds up quickly.

4. How many movies per day do you watch?
Movies and TV series that I write up reviews for are about 5 a day I guess. However, some are short films--as I really like silent shorts.

5. Which kind of movies do you like to review?
I review most kinds EXCEPT for what’s popular and in theaters now. I actually rarely go to the movie theaters--perhaps 2-3 times a year and this is mostly to watch the Oscar-nominated shorts. So, reviews you’ll rarely see me do are action films. I NEVER do slasher film reviews (unless it’s a comedy that makes fun of them, such as “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”). In general, the more explosions in the film, the less likely I’ll watch it. I do like classic Hollywood, foreign films, silents and independent films most.

6. Do you have a favorite movie?
I think there’s really no such thing as a “best” or even favorite film. I have favorites, yes. Off the top of my head, I’d say “The Best Years of Our Lives”, “The Children are Watching Us”, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “The Gold Rush”, “The Freshman” (the Harold Lloyd film), “Cops” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” are some of the best films I’ve seen--but I am sure my best of list would be about a hundred films or more!

7. Did you learn anything about your style in my blog?
I prefer using the word “film” instead of “movie” and that my reviews for movies I hate are much longer (and probably more interesting) than for films I like! I learned these from your blog. As far as what I learned on my own, I learned that a few reviewers are great--less prolific but great on imdb--such as Bobthemoo and Writersreign. I envy the quality of their reviews.

8. Do you have time for anything else?
I have LOTS of free time--more than most people. I live near the Gulf of Mexico, so I fish and scuba. I also exercise a lot (you cannot tell by looking at me) and travel a lot--probably at least 2 months a year are spent traveling and I often watch films as I travel. I also LOVE to cook and have dinner parties for friends and family. I can do all these because I was able to retire young and am basically a house husband.

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