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Pointflation and why it happens...



It's not much of a mystery IMO really.

It seems like every couple of months I see a post that discusses how a person has lost rank when their point total didn't go down (or even when it went up). There seems to be a general frustration among members that the number of points required to obtain a given rank keeps going up. The simplest (and seemingly most common) explanation for this seems to be that the users directly below them are adding more coins and passing them in rank. This is likely true, at least in part, but I feel it misses the heart of the issue.

NGC is constantly slabbing more coins, including freshly minted ones. New sets and new slabs are always being added for new and old series. As this process continues, the number of points that are available to be claimed in the registry constantly increases. Every new slab created also serves as an advertisement, showing NGC's name and (if I remember right) the web address for NGC's homepage. Some of these slabs end up on the Home Shopping Network or even on Amazon.com. This must inevitably lead to more people learning of and joining the registry. The end result of this must be an increase in the number of users and, by extension, an increase in the number of users with a given point total.

Even then, there's still more to this. The point value associated with a given coin in a given grade is not a fixed quantity. NGC's ability to change these point values has also become a mechanism for point totals to inflate. While it's true that these point values can be adjusted up or down, I would argue that the overall trend is one of increasing values. Many of these scores are not adjusted unless one or more users send in requests for a correction. People will frequently do so when they feel one of their coins is clearly undervalued. I would expect score change requests to be far less common when a coin is thought to be overvalued. People don't tend to ask for points to be taken away from them. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it is human nature. This seems to hold regardless of whether we're talking single value changes or re-evaluating an entire set. While some coins go down in value, the overall trend is towards increasing point values.

I don't view either of these trends to be a problem, but the results haven't been surprising. Back in the middle July of 2007, I had a total of 1374 points shortly after joining. This earned me a rank of 2557th out of 3220 registry users (percentile 79.4). Today, that same score would allow someone to rank 4195th out of a current 5343 registry users (percentile 78.5). Yes, that score would have slid back 1600+ places in rank, but that's all a function of the growth of the registry. In terms of the percentile rank, that score has moved less than 1%. Sure, that one data point doesn't prove my case, but it is rather interesting.

To all of you out there who grow chagrined at the increasing difficulty of being in the top 500, the people already in the registry aren't necessarily your problem; it's the progressive growth of the overall registry at work against you. :)

Hopefully this didn't bore everyone too much. I'm not sure why I try and take a technical view of a perfectly non-technical problem, but it's just in my nature. Direct all complaints and disagreements to my inbox. I won't change but I'm willing to let people complain. :p




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