Why I fired my sloths

The last few days have been interesting to say the least, as I was faced with an unexpected surge in popularity of the unofficial Zootopian driver’s licenses I’ve been making for fun. If you haven’t already, you can read a bit about it in my previous post. As a random sidenote, while I was writing this I was suddenly reminded of one of my very first websites (a virtual “Pokemon center”) and omg it still exists… Erk.

Anyway! A lot of people were disappointed when at around 5:30am AEST I suddenly closed the online Google form, capping it to just over 200 responses. Although it was amazing that so many people were keen on getting one, I really didn’t have a good plan at the time for how I was going to deliver that many licenses. Even with my Keynote template, it took around 5 minutes per license to enter the data and send it off (that’s about 17 hours for 200 licenses!) And I saw in the Google spreadsheet that the number of responses was growing very quickly, too quickly for me to keep up with.

Incidentally, I really, really like data. I’d even go as far as to say I love it. It’s so interesting to play with data and visualise it and figure out what it can tell you. So I thought I’d use a visualisation of the Zootopia license data to help make clear why I freaked out and closed the form, as well as what led to the growth in popularity.

This is a histogram of number versus time from the opening of the form to fairly recently, plotted in my favourite plotting program matplotlib:

I’ve highlighted a few interesting events along the way, and you can see what effect they had (maybe – it’s hard to tell with timing!) on the license requests. I briefly summarise them below:

1. Miss Bunz shares her license with her followers:

2. Rich Moore retweets my tweet to his timeline (delayed effect?):

3. Most influentially, the Zootopians FB community shares my post:

4. I see the growing number of responses and get scared, closing the form until I come up with a solution for this.

5. Using my Python powers, I find a solution and reopen the form!

6. Byron Howard comments on a post I tagged both Zootopian directors in:

Although it’s difficult to trace cause and effect precisely, you can probably infer the same thing I have: the popularity of the form really began when it was shared by the Zootopians page directly to their 16k followers. And when I saw how quickly the requests were coming in at that point, I got scared because I didn’t know how I’d deal with 50 licenses let alone 500!

Since then it’s all had a happy ending and I’ve now got a team of very efficient koalas (read: Python scripts) working for me instead of my previous sloth team (read: me). In hindsight I didn’t need to worry and could have left the form open, but actually it gave me some time to reconsider the way I’d worded certain questions and greatly improve the data that my scripts had to parse (thus minimising failure). I also learnt some new coding skills which is always exciting.

Now it’s time to wait and see how the data changes with time and whether the number of license requests will continue to grow or decline. I hope to see more licenses distributed over the coming days!


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