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Advice for Developing New Stats

posted Jun 11, 2016, 2:02 PM by Robert Vollman
The following seven, high-level suggestions for developing new stats is from the Hockey Abstract 2015 Update.

1. Before you begin, see what else is out there, and don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel. Consider building on what exists before developing something from scratch.

2. At the same time, don’t call someone else’s work “flawed” when you’ve got a different perspective, or a small improvement to make. That’s a loaded term that’s rarely anything more than a massive exaggeration. 

3. Don’t be afraid! Get your stuff out there, and ask for people to review it. You will absolutely be criticized, often unfairly, but don’t let that stop you. The critics are only right about you and your work if you give up on it.

4. Once complete, open up your formula and equations to others, and make your data available on your website. Yes, there will be some people who rip you off, or use your work without credit, but it’s also the best way to improve your work, and to see it adopted by a larger audience.

5. To further help promote your work, think carefully about how to name it. Quite frankly, Corsi, Fenwick, and PDO aren’t great examples of how to name statistics. To be fair, players usage charts were originally poorly named as OZ-QoC charts, so we have all made this mistake.

6. Be generous about promoting the work of others. It will mean a lot to them, since it comes from one of the few people who truly understands and appreciates the hard work and talent that this work requires.

7. Finally, do it for the pure love of it all. It’s exciting to win the rare opportunity to work with NHL front offices and/or the mainstream media, but for the most part it’s a lot of sacrifice for nothing more than a bag of peanuts.

Developing a new statistic, and seeing its adoption spread to fellow fans, the media, and the front offices themselves, is highly rewarding. But, it’s also a lot of work, will expose the author to a great deal of criticism and theft, and will frequently be used without credit (or passed off as someone else’s). Ultimately, this is a labour of love, but one that will never go unappreciated by those who have been there before.