Auto Posting Across Social Media Platforms – IFTTT – Buffer.com

I hate missing out just as much as anyone else.  Its why Ultimate SEO has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Youtube, Blogger, Instagram, SnapChat and more.  But the only thing worse than not being on a platform is to not appear active on that platform. If someone’s first impression of you or your company is your activity on a forgotten profile it is more damaging than not having been there to begin with.

IFTTT And Buffer

Thats where IFTTT has stepped in and been able to save time while helping to get a message out consistently.  From WordPress IFTTT automatically shares and posts each update to a slew of other sites and until recently its been the most effective means for auto updating social media.  Now that Google+ has ended and with the loss of Gmail applets on IFTTT it may be a good time to look again at social media auto posting techniques.  Recently it appears LinkedIn may have discontinued its connection to IFTTT as well, which is a shame and hurts both LinkedIn and IFTTT.

buffer.com

buffer.com

In researching IFTTT applets Buffer.com came to light.  Its mostly a paid version of what IFTTT did for free but it also includes a free options which allows integration with 3 social media platforms.  In the use case of Ultimate SEO that meant connecting to LinkedIn.  The other two positions going to Facebook and Twitter as those are the powerhouse social media platforms.

Automated Cross Posting In Social Media

My ultimate goal is to fully automate this process and I haven’t yet seen that in Buffer.com but further testing may reveal that an action from IFTTT completes this chain.  Its not enough to be able to post an individual article from one site to all, we need something that checks all sites and then auto publishes what isnt published on others to those sites.

You might think of this daisy chain of social media as if it were a PBN.  It’s a network of separate sites but all you.

I’ll keep you updated on this case study.  At present though IFTTT still appears to be the best auto posting option for social media.  It can start from a sites RSS feed or an integrated service like WordPress then post to a central site such as Blogger which has a lot of versatility due to the number of connections available.

Connectors Applets Or Recipes

Some connections utilized for Ultimate SEO include:

(The WordPress to X recipes are available but I’d recommend making these connections through Blogger where possible for consistency)

Blogger applets

Blogger applets

  • WordPress to Blogger
  • WordPress to Photostream
  • WordPress to Tumblr
  • WordPress to Facebook
  • WordPress to Twitter
  • Blogger to Buffer – this recipe enables the auto posting into LinkedIn
  • Blogger to Flickr
  • Blogger to Pinterest
  • Blogger to Bitly
  • Blogger to Diigo
  • Blogger to Instapaper
  • Blogger to Reddit
  • Blogger to Pocket
  • Blogger to Trello
  • Blogger to Dropbox
  • Blogger to OneNote

It may appear that I love Blogger but its important to have a centralized distribution point.  Consider how easy it would be to accidentally create an auto updating loop if you didn’t have a defined start.  I accidentally created one of these months ago and it was annoying first discovering it and second reviewing where in the chain I was picking up the update I was trying to put down.  So blogger serves in that regard as a check point on redundancy.  I also prefer a secondary site from WordPress.  If after publishing something on WordPress you realized the permalink is too long or something just didn’t look right, you at least have another spot to stop that mistake from going out to everything else.

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Guest Posts Submitted To Ultimate SEO sites

Link Building: Submitted Guest Posts

To submit your own guest post visit our submission page.  Approved Guest Posts also appear among the site’s regular articles.

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Link Building: Guest Posts to UltimateSEO.org

Guest Posts or User Submitted Posts are content written by another author not working for the site in which the content is being displayed on.  UltimateSEO has a very easy guest post system and its free.  Content submitted to our site may be syndicated on as many as 300 other sites that we maintain or are affiliated with.  That can potential deliver you hundreds of backlinks from multiple domains.  We offer this feature free of charge at this time, but may charge in the future.  Why is it free when other sites charge?  Its because we want good content and diverse opinions.  So please ensure your post is original, timely, accurate and fresh.

Guest Posting is a win win scenario for us and you and your site.  You can write an original article and we’ll post it if it is about SEO or SEM in general.  Specific niche SEO topics are also welcome.  Writers can include backlinks of relevant in their posts.  We’d like to recommend no more than one link per 250 words.  If there is an issue we’ll let you know.  We also ask the your post include an image or an image per 500 words.  So .in a 2000 word SEO post we’d like to see no more than 8 links and we would like to see about 4 images.

Submit For Review

Ultimate SEO reserves the right to remove or edit posts on our site.  We will also provide credit to content creators who retain ownership of their content but license the display of that content to use by using this form.

Submitted Guest Posts

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Speed: Page Load – Technical SEO Out Ranks Most In Mobile

A Case Study of SEO Metrics And Rank

Here is a recently added FAQ to the Ultimate SEO FAQ section.

Let me show you how important it is….desktop vs mobile search results

desktop vs mobile search results

Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in the mobile search on the right?  Consider these metrics

Realtor.com = Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108

Zumper.com = Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830

In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search?

Site Speed Test on GTMetrix

Realtor.com Fails Speed

site speed

site speed

Zumper.com Passes Speed

page load

page load

So in this example we clearly see a more popular site beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed.  And we cant discount this as … well its only important in mobile.  In case you missed it…

60% of searches are mobile

60% of searches are mobile

Now when we consider the facts above lets also dispel people’s over fascination for keywords and text optimization and position of frequency of words, the content length …. on-site SEO, the SEO of the 1990s as I call it… both sites present the same content to the desktop and mobile versions they just differ wildly in the speed.  What are some of the reasons?  Realtor.com decided to present 16 rows of 3 images of homes to visitors while Zumper shows 4 rows of 1 image …. and then additional rows load as you scroll down.  Lazy Load and 1 image vs 3.  Thats how they keep their requests to about a third of the realtor.com page.

What Are Requests?

I’d suggest you think of requests as if they are shots from a gun at your head.  You need to avoid them!  Less shots is a lot better…

Requests are literally requests of the server before the page can load.  If I make a page with one image on it that is one request.  Lets say I decide to replace that image with a slider with 5 slides, now I have 5 requests … the same page area but that cool feature increases the trips required of a computer to quadruple!  Lets say now I add social media icons to the page … Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and an email icon …. small and just up in the right corner.  That social media addition just added 5 more requests.  Think about all the things on your page, they don’t all come together in one big Amazon package with a smile…. they are shipped to the computer individually.  Now I have one page with 1 request and another with 10 and the initial difference isn’t much…that slider only displays one image at a time.

Latency And Requests

Servers don’t respond instantly…they take a little while to think and retrieve the requested resource and then it has to travel the distance from the server to your computer…may be at the speed of light, but light still takes time.  This time is called latency.  50 milliseconds is a good latency.

If both servers in the FAQ had a 50 ms latency.  We can assume that the

Realtor.com server will take 50 ms x 301 requests = 15050 ms or 15 seconds

Zumper.com server will take 50 ms x 134 requests = 6700 ms or 6 seconds  

I hope this explains why you want to limit requests, and prioritize speed as much as you focus on keywords.

Ways To Decrease Requests

Do you need separate images?  On ultimateseo.org I wanted to show my COMPTia certifications.  I have 4 icons … I combined them to make one image.   Thats 1/4 the requests but no change in user experience other than a quicker site.

technical certifications

technical certifications

Lazy Load

Lazy Load also helps speed up the initial page load time.  If “below the fold” you have a lot of images on a page … the page needs those images still to finish the load unless you institute lazy load which essentially tells the computer to load an image only when it is coming into view.  This makes sense likely if you have 300 images on the page and plenty of them are scrolled far down….but all in all I’m on the fence on Lazy Load.  I ran speed tests on the homepage of this site with Lazy Load on …. 3 tests results 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.9 seconds.  I turned off lazy load, and reran the test and got 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.7 seconds.  So technically the site loaded faster with Lazy Load off….keep in mind it take a bit of thinking for the server to implement it. This helps speed up a site drastically if there are a ton of images spread vertically…but not much in a normal page.  What are the full implications on SEO when a site is crawled?

Its suggested by “Ask Yoast” that Lazy Load is fine for SEO and the images are rendered as Google scrolls down the page and indexes the content.

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We Analyzed 40 Years Of Primary Polls. Even Early On, They’re Fairly Predictive.

Over the past few weeks, FiveThirtyEight has explored who led in early primary polls of presidential cycles from 1972 to 2016 and who went on to win the nomination. And what we’ve seen is that national surveys conducted in the year before a presidential primary are relatively good indicators of which candidates will advance to the general election, especially when polling averages are adjusted to reflect how well known each candidate was. Now, in the third and final part of our series, we are going to analyze 40-plus years of polls to better understand their predictive power.

There are a number of ways to tackle this question, but one relatively easy way to see how predictive early polls are is to compare a candidate’s polling average1 to their eventual share of the national primary vote. And we found that as a candidate’s polling average increased, their vote share in the primaries also tended to increase. In the chart below, for the calendar year before the primaries began, we averaged each candidate’s polls in the first half of the year (January through June) and in the second half of the year (July through December), and then plotted those two averages against the share of votes each person won in the next year’s primaries, for every competitive nomination process from 1972 to 2016. The correlation is pretty strong for both halves of the year,2 though polls from the second half of the year matched the outcomes a little better, which is not surprising — after all, those polls were conducted closer to the start of primary season.

But it’s easier to see trends if we group some candidates together rather than looking at them all individually, so let’s sort candidates into six big buckets based on their polling average. That clearly shows us that candidates with higher polling averages were also more likely to win higher shares of the primary vote and, therefore, the nomination. Those polling at 35 percent or higher rarely lost the nomination, regardless of whether they attained those heights in the first or second half of the year. They also, on average, won more than half the national primary vote. But those polling below 20 percent in either the first half or second half of the year had at best a 1-in-10 chance of clinching the nomination, and they rarely won a sizable chunk of the popular vote.

High polling averages foreshadowed lots of primary votes

Candidates’ share of the national primary vote by average polling level in the first half of the year before the presidential primaries and polling average in the second half of that year, 1972-2016

First half Second half
Poll Avg. Share who became nominee Avg. Primary Vote share Share who became nominee Avg. Primary Vote share
35%+ 75% 57% 83% 57%
20%-35% 36 27 25 25
10%-20% 9 8 9 12
5%-10% 3 7 10 10
2%-5% 5 5 0 4
Under 2% 1 2 1 1

We included everyone we had polling data for, no matter how likely or unlikely they were to run. If a candidate didn’t run or dropped out before voting began, they were counted as winning zero percent of the primary vote.

Sources: POLLS, CQ Roll call, DAVE LEIP’s atlas of u.s. presidential elections

We can also take these polling averages and estimate the probability of a candidate winning a party’s nomination using a logistic regression. And as you can see, candidates polling above 20 percent — whether it’s in the first half of the year (the orange line) or the second half (purple line) — have a higher probability of winning the nomination. In fact, the results for the first and second half of the year are nearly identical — in the second half of the year, candidates with the same polling average had a slightly lower win probability, but we’re talking about a maximum difference of less than 4 percentage points.3 There are certainly more sophisticated ways one could look at this data, but even these simple methods can show that polls conducted this far out in the primary season still have a reasonable amount of predictive power.

We can go a step further and improve our analysis by accounting for a candidate’s level of name recognition.4 In previous installments of this series, we rated candidates’ fame on a five-tier scale,5 and this time we’re using those previous rankings to split up our polling data into two roughly equal groups — candidates with high name recognition6 and those with low name recognition.7 This gives us a broader understanding of whether being well known influenced a candidate’s chances of winning the nomination. (We also limited this part of our analysis to just the first half of the year to see what role name recognition played very early in the cycle.)

And as you can see, well-known candidates who polled in the double digits tended to win a higher share of the primary vote. But candidates who had high name recognition while only polling in the single digits were generally in trouble. Of the 84 highly recognized candidates who polled below 10 percent in surveys from the first half of the year before the primaries, only President Trump went on to win his party’s nomination. And Trump was an unusual case — Republicans started out with strongly negative views of him but quickly changed their tune even though they were already familiar with him. Meanwhile, candidates with lower name recognition in the first half of the year only occasionally advanced to the general election, and in each case, it was on the Democratic side — George McGovern in 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

Name recognition makes a big difference

Candidates’ share of the national primary vote by average polling level in the first half of the year before the presidential primaries and whether they had high or low name recognition, 1972-2016

High name recognition Low name recognition
Poll Avg. Share who became nominee Avg. Primary Vote share Share who became nominee Avg. Primary Vote share
35%+ 75% 57%
20%-35% 36 27
10%-20% 9 8
5%-10% 0 4 14% 19%
2%-5% 5 3 5 6
Under 2% 0 0 2 2

We included everyone we had polling data for, no matter how likely or unlikely they were to run. If a candidate didn’t run or dropped out before voting began, they were counted as winning zero percent of the primary vote.

Sources: POLLS, CQ Roll call, DAVE LEIP’s atlas of u.s. presidential elections

In fact, we can use a logistic regression to estimate a high- and low-name-recognition candidate’s chance of winning the nomination based on their polling average (much like we did above, but last time we didn’t sort candidates into categories based on name recognition). And as you can see in the chart below, a low-name-recognition candidate didn’t stand much of a chance of winning unless they were able to climb past 10 percent in the polls in the first half of the year before the primaries. If they were able to hit that mark, then their odds of winning were slightly less than 1 in 4, which put them ahead of a high-name-recognition candidate polling at the same level.

Intuitively, this makes sense — relatively few unknown candidates could poll as high as 10 percent this far out in the election cycle. But for those who could get that much support even though only a small share of people knew about them, their polling numbers signaled a great deal of potential. Take Dukakis in the 1988 cycle: His polling average was about 8 percent in the first half of 1987, and we estimated that his average name recognition was somewhere around 20 percent. Not a bad polling average when you consider that most respondents didn’t know who he was.

In other words, a candidate’s adjusted polling average — polling average divided by name recognition, which we delved into at length in the first two parts of this series — is a decent proxy for teasing out the strength of a candidate, especially early in the election cycle. By accounting for how well known a candidate is, we can get a better read on the field in front of us, including here in the 2020 election cycle. As primary season draws nearer, we’ll be keeping an eye on any candidates with low name recognition who still manage to win a significant chunk of support in the polls.

Fox News Can’t Stop Talking About Bernie Sanders

Fox News loves talking about Bernie Sanders. Every week since the Vermont senator launched his 2020 campaign, Fox News has outstripped MSNBC and CNN in terms of how much coverage each network dedicated to Sanders. Last week, viewers got a chance to hear directly from the candidate at a Fox News town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “Your network does not necessarily have a great deal of respect in my world,” Sanders said, “but I thought it was important for me to be here and have a serious discussion about serious issues.”

The town hall meeting was a ratings success for Fox News and seems to have been a boon for the Sanders campaign as well. It led to the highest Google search interest in Sanders since he announced his candidacy and helped Sanders remain the most talked-about candidate on cable news for the third consecutive week, with 969 mentions1 across the three networks last week according to data from the TV News Archive.2

Now other 2020 Democratic candidates want in on the post-town-hall coverage bonanza. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has already booked an appearance on Fox News next month, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign told The Hill that they are in talks with the network.

While Sanders and Buttigieg have been getting the most cable news coverage this month, that could change if former Vice President Joe Biden officially jumps in the race this week, as he is expected to do. Biden, who is leading in many early polls of the Democratic primary, managed to get 486 mentions on the three networks this week, which means that even though he’s not officially in the race, he got more cable news coverage than every declared candidate except Sanders and Buttigieg.

Link Building: Site Directories

An easy way to build backlinks is through directory submissions.  Anything hard though is worth more, so keep in mind directory submissions don’t carry the weight that in content links will.  With that said there is still diluted value in link directories, just don’t focus on them.

Here are some link directories and they are organized by SEO power.

The button below opens a new window with about 100 sites. We also have the following directory sites maintained by Ultimate SEO and these are always free to list with.  This site also has a directory on it built in…you can access it by the top menu bar.

https://seoblogs.directory
https://healthblogs.directory
https://candidate.directory
https://workout.directory

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Link Building: Site Directories

The Biggest Surprises From The First Week Of The NBA Playoffs

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): We’ve had almost one full week of games in the NBA playoffs, and trends are emerging. Golden State took a 31-point third-quarter lead over the Clippers on Thursday night … and didn’t lose! So after a few early surprises, things seem to be getting back to what we expected.

One series not playing out according to seeding is San Antonio-Denver. The No. 7 Spurs beat the No. 2 Nuggets 118-108 on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the series. This comes as a surprise to the FiveThirtyEight NBA Predictions model, which had Denver as an 88 percent favorite to move on. The Nuggets are still favored, but just 60-40. Are you guys surprised by how this series is going?

chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior staff writer): Not all that much, no. I think I picked Denver out of respect for the season it had. But this was the one team basically everybody had questions about coming in.

I had the series going seven games, with Denver winning. It could easily be 3-0 Spurs right now.

tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): I am surprised, but I don’t think we really should be. It’s the Spurs being the Spurs again.

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Our model doesn’t like San Antonio very much, so given their regular-season performance and home-court advantage — and Denver has a big home-court advantage — the Nuggets were pretty clear favorites. But it didn’t really like the Nuggets all that much either. They aren’t a great playoff team because their depth doesn’t really help them in the playoffs, the topline talent is not all that good, and they don’t have much playoff experience.

So I’m surprised that we had them as high as 88 percent, frankly! But not surprised that the Spurs are ahead in the series.

chris.herring: On Denver’s home-court advantage: The Nuggets haven’t beaten the Spurs in San Antonio in 14 tries now.

tchow: I am surprised because at one point in the season, our model gave the Spurs just a 4 percent chance of even making the postseason. We had a story a while back that talked about how they started turning it around (better defense, better bench production), but they were still underdogs going into this series, in my opinion.

sara.ziegler: Yeah, I had sort of counted the Spurs out a long time ago.

Let that be a lesson to me: Never count out Pop.

The experience factor really seems to be hurting the Nuggets so far. (And our model took 3 points away from them for their lack of playoff experience.)

chris.herring: Nuggets coach Mike Malone has talked about the experience factor a pretty decent amount in the past week

His young starting point guard, Jamal Murray, began Game 2 going 0-for-8. Malone was asked if he gave thought to pulling him because of Murray’s performance. He said no, in part because he needed to show his young players that he believed in them, and that he’s with them, win or lose. Murray responded by hitting 8-of-9 in the final quarter to bring the Nuggets all the way back for a dramatic win.

The win probably saved their season for the time being. But it speaks to the volatility of having such a young/young-minded club.

tchow: Murray wasn’t much better in Game 3 — just 6 points and two assists. I’m not trying to pin Denver’s failing’s this postseason all on Murray, though. All the Nuggets starters were pretty terrible in Game 3.

chris.herring: It’s a pretty big contrast between the teams.

While we’re talking about the growing pains for a young team, it’s worth pointing out that the Spurs are being led in part by youngster Derrick White, whose defense is his calling card. I think this is his first real exposure to a national audience, but he’s been playing really well for months.

tchow: White’s Game 3 performance was kind of a reminder for a lot of people who don’t watch the Spurs that he existed.

sara.ziegler: LOL

chris.herring: White’s experience has been different because of all the injuries they’ve had. But White and Dejounte Murray are going to be an annoyingly good backcourt once the team is healthy again next season. AND there’s Bryn Forbes, too.

natesilver: The whole Nuggets backcourt feels like it’s way short of championship caliber. It needs an anchor. There are lots of useful pieces you could rotate around that anchor, like Murray and Gary Harris, but without that anchor, it doesn’t quite come together.

chris.herring: It’s tough: They have a fantastic, sure-handed backup in Monte Morris, who led the NBA in assist/turnover ratio.

sara.ziegler: MORE MONTE MORRIS

Cyclones, represent!

chris.herring: He may not win a game for you. But he’s extremely unlikely to ever lose one for you, which you could argue Murray either occasionally does, or comes close to doing. Again: These are the growing pains for a young team sometimes.

sara.ziegler: On to another team that has seemed shaky at times this postseason: the Philadelphia 76ers. But they seem to have recovered from their upset in Game 1 — they’ve beaten the Nets convincingly twice in a row now. What looked different for them in Games 2 and 3?

tchow: Ben. Simmons.

natesilver: Sen. Bimmons.

chris.herring: Yeah, that sounds about right. Whether it was Jared Dudley that got in his head, or just him recognizing that he had to be more aggressive, Simmons has been a completely different player since Game 1.

tchow: Simmons had a -21 plus/minus in Game 1. Game 2 he was +23, and then +11 in Game 3 with a 31 point performance on 85 percent shooting.

chris.herring: I hate to say this, because maybe it’s premature, but I was beginning to think that the Nets could steal this series if things broke right for them.

tchow: I think a lot of people thought that, Chris. The Nets are legit and play really hard.

chris.herring: The Nets stole home-court advantage in Game 1. Were basically even at halftime of Game 2. And then get a gift rolled out on a platter for them, with Joel Embiid sitting out of a Game 3 played in their home arena, in front of a fan base that hasn’t hosted a playoff game in four years.

Thursday was their chance. And I think with the loss now, that might be about it.

natesilver: I’m in the Ben-Simmons-is-underrated camp. Yeah, he doesn’t really have a jumpshot. But he does pretty much everything else well. And there have been a lot of players throughout NBA history who have survived or even thrived without jump shots — Giannis Antetokounmpo basically does that now. The advanced stats like Simmons.

tchow: I think it’s very different for a player like Giannis to not have a jump shot than Simmons.

chris.herring: While we’re on the issue of Simmons, I think we learned that Embiid not being there might have been a help for him

For all the wonderful things Embiid does, he plays at a plodding pace.

Someone like Simmons thrives in an up-tempo environment because of his inability to shoot.

tchow: Sara, I found the hot take for next week’s Hot Takedown episode: FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring says Sixers are better without Joel Embiid.

sara.ziegler: LOLOLOL

Yes!

chris.herring: They might be in this series! Well, probably not: Greg Monroe was rough.

If they had more depth, they might be.

natesilver: That’s the thing about Philly. Look how bad their bench is:

Everyone’s like, “Why are these four stars such awkward fits together” — and I’ll admit that they’re a little awkward, but with a half-decent bench, it’s an entirely different team.

chris.herring: I don’t think it’s a terrible bench. And the truth is, you can stagger when you have that many stars.

But the spots in which it’s terrible … yeah.

tchow: Sixers’ bench: Who? Who? Who? The big guy. Who? and Who?

sara.ziegler: 🤣

chris.herring: That’s their issue, I think. I’m not sure Boban Marjanovic would work against every team. But he’s their backup big.

natesilver: I saw Boban at the United Airlines lounge at Newark Airport one time. He was very big and tall and sitting in a giant lounge chair and still looked very big and tall.

chris.herring: I tweeted last night that I’m pretty sure he dunked last night with one foot still on the ground.

Anyway: I want to talk more about how disappointed I am in Brooklyn

tchow: Are you just disappointed in their central A/C system at Barclays, Chris?

chris.herring: Well, that too.

sara.ziegler: Are you disappointed that their slogan is “We go hard,” and then they didn’t?

chris.herring: They did go hard!

It’s not a question of effort with them. It never is. But I think what Nate alluded to is exactly the issue here. The Sixers’ bench isn’t great/may be bad. And the Nets’ second-best player is their bench.

natesilver: Yeah, Brooklyn’s not totally unlike Denver. Excellent depth, no playoff experience, frontline talent is meh.

tchow: Nate, they’re both small-market teams. I get it. (Queens represent!)

sara.ziegler: OMG

Tony trying to start a borough war here.

chris.herring: You generally see Brooklyn go on these massive runs in the second quarter of these games. But then after halftime, the game gets broken open, and Kenny Atkinson — who I really, really like — waits too long to call a timeout!

The Sixers went on a 21-2 (!!!!) run in Game 2 before Atkinson called for timeout. It took a 1-point deficit and expanded it to a 20-point lead for the Sixers. And then the game was over.

tchow: Maybe Atkinson is from the Phil Jackson school of letting the players figure it out on their own.

natesilver: What was the atmosphere like at Barclay’s, Chris? I think it’s one of the coolest venues in sports from an architectural/amenities standpoint, but every time I’ve gone, the fans are sort of half-hearted.

chris.herring: Last night was amazing to start the game. But I think they were sort of stunned to see the team run out of steam.

And as Tony said: I was freezing.

sara.ziegler: Well, it is a hockey rink, too.

chris.herring: So maybe the have to have the ice ready? But good lord.

My phone turned off at one point because of how cold it was.

sara.ziegler: Wow

That’s cold.

chris.herring: The atmosphere was really great. It’s good to have the playoffs in Brooklyn again. And hopefully Manhattan at some point in the next couple years. (side-eyes Knicks)

natesilver: Knicks fans should be rooting against Boston and against Golden State, right?

chris.herring: I’ve heard the same stuff everyone else has about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving coming to the Knicks. As much as I hear it, I just have to see it to believe that it’ll actually happen.

natesilver: I think KD could leave either after a championship or a flameout. But Kyrie — yeah, he’s already flip-flopped enough that I think Knicks fans want the Celtics out by Round 2.

chris.herring: I think I’m just too conditioned to believe that nothing overwhelmingly good can happen for/with the Knicks unless there’s an enormous downside that comes with it.

sara.ziegler: LOL

natesilver: My current scenario is that they get Kyrie and also draft Ja Morant and somehow that turns into a disaster.

sara.ziegler: Speaking of Kyrie, the Celtics are making quick work of the Pacers. Indiana doesn’t seem to have quite enough offense so far to hang with Boston.

chris.herring: 😔

tchow: I’m actually interesting to read Chris’s thoughts on this series. I remember A LOT of people were down on Boston going into the playoffs.

chris.herring: Yeah. I had some hope that this could be an interesting series.

But I also was tasked with writing an Indiana-based primer for the ESPN side ahead of this series. When I got to the “Why Indiana can win section,” I sat and stared at my screen for like an hour.

So this actually doesn’t surprise me all that much.

They simply don’t have enough offense. Or ingenuity.

natesilver: I haven’t watched much of that series; pretty much my only recollection was seeing a score that was like 76-59 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and thinking I needed to update my contact lens prescription, but nope, that was the actual score.

chris.herring: They basically hand the ball off to Bojan Bogdanovic and say, “Do something.” Kind of like a kid who does a magic trick, but is still holding the quarter in his hand, in plain sight, for everyone to see.

tchow: Has Boston done anything to change people’s minds about their chances though?

chris.herring: No. They’re merely beating a flawed, weakened team, IMO.

tchow: That’s what I figured about Boston. The real test, if they do end up beating the Pacers, will probably come against Milwaukee.

chris.herring: In fairness to Nate McMillan and the Pacers, this was always going to be an uphill battle, because they’re playing without Victor Oladipo. It was a great accomplishment to go 21-21 this season without their star player after going 0-7 without him last season.

sara.ziegler: Yeah, they don’t really have anything to feel embarrassed about.

chris.herring: I really like Indiana, and have a soft spot for Little-Engine-That-Could sort of teams. But they need some reinvention.

They could use more firepower. But they need better schemes.

natesilver: I feel like the whole first round could use more firepower. Between inexperienced teams, teams with injury problems, teams without any star talent … it feels a little bit like spring training or something.

tchow: I agree, but it has been more interesting than I imagined.

chris.herring: A little.

sara.ziegler: Let’s talk about the other interesting series in the East: No. 2 Toronto has had its hands full with No. 7 Orlando. The Magic took the first game, but the Raptors stormed back in Game 2. The teams will face off Friday night in Orlando. Do we think the Magic have a realistic shot in this series?

natesilver: Mayyyyyybe?

chris.herring: It depends on what you define as “a shot.” I think they can get another game, potentially. I don’t think they will win the series. The Raptors responded in Game 2 the way you hoped a top-flight team would.

sara.ziegler: But the Magic are underrated, Chris!

I heard you say so.

chris.herring: Oh, they are. And not enough people know that.

But I don’t think that I ever conflated them being underrated with the notion that they should somehow beat the Raptors in a series.

tchow: Kyle Lowry responded in Game 2 the way you hoped. Chris wrote about Lowry’s Game 1 woes before, but he responded in a big way.

natesilver: Orlando is a weird-ass team, and they played very well in the second half of the season.

If you’re looking for an upset pick, I’d rather pick a weird team than a normal one.

chris.herring: If they had played competitively in Game 2, sure.

Or had a matchup they could readily exploit.

sara.ziegler: The Raptors had a 98 percent chance to win this series before the playoffs start, and now they’re all the way down to 93 percent. So things are still looking pretty good for them.

In the last series in the East, the Bucks had a little trouble with Detroit before pulling away in Game 2. But the most interesting thing to me about that game was Blake Griffin picking up his second technical foul of the series.

Blake Griffin, you’ll recall, has not actually played yet in this series.

tchow: Bucks in four. I think we can move on?

sara.ziegler: LOL

chris.herring: Yeah. That’s literally the only thing I find interesting about this series. That, and finding out how far away from the basket Giannis can dunk from.

tchow: The NBA tweet highlights of Giannis dunks have been the only saving grace of this series.

chris.herring: If and when the NBA move the first round back to a best-of-five, they’re going to use this series as evidence as why. (edited)

natesilver: I think there needs to be a mercy rule where you can concede your playoff series and get like three Lottery Balls or whatever.

sara.ziegler: OK, let’s move back to the West. The Trail Blazers are off to a great start, up 2-0 against the Thunder. Our model is surprised at this series — it had given the Thunder a 77-23 edge. Are you guys surprised?

chris.herring: Yes. I’m surprised. Maybe stupid, too.

natesilver: I mean, if Paul George isn’t himself, our model is gonna screw that series up.

tchow: He’s hurt!

chris.herring: I feel like a contrarian now, but I don’t even think he’s shoulder is the problem anymore. He shot the ball semi-decently last game.

Russ is shooting like he’s the one injured.

tchow: Our model can’t predict that Russell Westbrook will shoot 35 percent and 10 percent from 3-point range in this series.

chris.herring: EXACTLY

What I will say is that I don’t have a lot of faith in OKC if it’s simply relying on the notion that its shooting will improve.

They are shooting 16 PERCENT from three in this series.

Which, while God awful, is only a slight regression for them!

natesilver: That whole quadrant of the bracket — OKC, Portland, San Antonio, Denver — seems incredibly weak to me.

chris.herring: If OKC had a team full of sharpshooters, I could understand having more confidence.

But Russ still defends Damian Lillard as if he’s surprised that Dame can/will pull up from 35 feet.

The guy needs to be treated as if he’s Steph at this point

tchow: I don’t want to take anything away from Portland. Yes, they lost Jusuf Nurkic, but CJ and Dame have been awesome this series.

chris.herring: I came in thinking that this might be a sweep or a 4-1 series in favor of OKC. Simply thought that not having Nurkic would hurt against someone like Steven Adams. I thought CJ McCollum would struggle to find a rhythm (he’s coming off an injury and wasn’t good vs. OKC during the season). We watched Dame log 35 a night against the Thunder during the season and still get swept 4-0 during the regular season.

tchow: CJ has been 🔥

chris.herring: I didn’t think they had a great chance in this series. They had lost 10 playoff games in a row. With the exception of perimeter shooting, I thought just about everything else would be in OKC’s favor. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

tchow: If Dame wasn’t in Portland, would he still be this underrated? It feels like this is a storyline every season.

sara.ziegler: That’s a good question.

How many people regularly see him play?

tchow: Basketball nerds: “Look at Damian Lillard!”

Basketball fans: “Who this?”

chris.herring: I guess we have to define underrated.

natesilver: He was All-NBA First Team last season, no?

But, yeah, Portland has to be one of the least-watched teams in the league, or at least by people not in the Pacific Time Zone.

chris.herring: Even if you know who he is, and how great he is, I think you could objectively look at this series — and what the Blazers have done the last two years in the playoffs (0-8) — and say OKC should have been favored.

tchow: For OKC to take Game 3, they need to ____________.

And don’t say something like “play better” (looks at Nate).

sara.ziegler: SHOOT BETTER

chris.herring: … shoot better than my 4-year-old nephew does from outside of 23 feet.

natesilver: I’d say they need to play better basketball.

sara.ziegler: In the other non-Warriors series out West, the Rockets are handling the Jazz easily so far, setting up a showdown with Golden State in the second round. This has played out about as expected, right?

chris.herring: I had higher hopes for Jazz-Rockets. Am impressed with how dominant Houston has looked, but thought Utah would play better than this. Their defensive scheme has looked downright nonsensical to me

tchow: If Chris has a soft spot for Indiana, I think I have a soft spot for Utah. I love this team and wanted more out of them this series.

sara.ziegler: Utah is a very likable team.

natesilver: I didn’t expect Houston to dismantle Utah quite so thoroughly.

In fact, I think that’s the story of the first round so far. It’s a highly consequential story because the Rockets are absolutely good enough to give the Warriors a series.

chris.herring: The disappointment I feel with Utah is equivalent to how excited I am for the second round, with Warriors-Rockets.

That will seemingly be the Western Conference finals, just a round early.

natesilver: It would be quite something if the Rockets actually need fewer games to dispatch Utah than Golden State needs with the Clippers.

chris.herring: Seriously.

tchow: The Jazz just seem like a team that’s so close to figuring it out. Maybe not to a point where you think they can beat Golden State, but they’re so good in the regular season. I don’t know what happens to them in the playoffs.

chris.herring: Yeah, I sort of agree in theory, Tony.

But I think what I’ve learned is that I have to be leery of a team that relies on such a young player to be its leading scorer.

natesilver: Maybe you just need more isolation scoring in the playoffs? Or more scoring, period?

chris.herring: I remember a stat from last year: Donovan Mitchell was the first rookie to lead a playoff team in regular-season scoring since Carmelo Anthony.

I think there’s a reason we don’t see it happen much. And I think it’s even more problematic for a team built like that to have all sorts of horrible defensive breakdowns, because at that point, you know they have no shot at keeping up in a shootout against one of the best scorers in modern history.

If Quin Snyder rolls out the exact same defensive scheme that he did in Games 1 and 2, this series will end in a sweep.

natesilver: Is Mitchell … a little bit like Carmelo Anthony in that he’s taking too many shots? I mean, I guess he has to take a lot of shots with that lineup. But Utah really needs another player who can create his own shot.

tchow: What if you played a player like Royce O’Neale more? He’s +1.8 on defense (according to our model), and it looks like they do a bit better defensively with him on the floor.

chris.herring: He’s another example of what Nate is talking about, though: A guy that isn’t likely to create his own shot.

This is a team that will need to take a long, hard look at itself this summer despite how well it’s played during the second half of these last two seasons.

tchow: One obvious fix would be to get rid of Grayson Allen.

KIDDING!!!

natesilver: I also think Utah benefits from being a bit unorthodox. Rubio is an unorthodox point guard. They’re defense-first. They can play at a slow pace, although they picked up their pace a lot this year. They’re well-coached. So there’s an advantage from game-planning in the regular season. But Daryl Morey and the Rockets are going to study the hell out of the Jazz and know how to counter.

chris.herring: Some of these teams are built to play really, really well in the regular season. And there’s incredible value in that, for seeding purposes, etc.

But the inability to change your playing style when you’re forced to is often fatal this time of year.

sara.ziegler: Finally, Golden State seemed like Golden State in Game 3 of their series against the Clippers. So that panic appears to be over?

chris.herring: Hell, they seemed like Golden State in Game 2 to me!

It was just a massive collapse at the end of Game 2.

sara.ziegler: LOL

chris.herring: I actually pointed out yesterday that the game played out exactly the same way for a long while:

natesilver: Our model thought the DeMarcus Cousins injury was a pretty big deal. Although I think it overrated how effective Cousins had been this season.

sara.ziegler: All season, Cousins has been more about potential in our model.

But the Warriors didn’t need him early in the season, obviously.

tchow: I have nothing much to say about this series, but I do want to point readers to this interview KD gave before Game 3.

natesilver: It’s not that they’re going to lose to the Clippers, but I do just have to wonder about a team’s mentality when they can blow a 30-point lead.

chris.herring: NBC analyst Tom Haberstroh pointed out that Steph was only averaging 19.9 points per 36 minutes this season with Boogie on the court, and that he essentially morphed into Malcolm Brogdon.

Averaged 31.4 points per 36 minutes without DeMarcus on the floor.

sara.ziegler: Wow

natesilver: I mean, part of that might be that Steph was being deferential in an effort to get Cousins feeling like himself again.

chris.herring: EXACTLY

Which … there isn’t time to do that in the playoffs.

tchow: Definitely. I think Steph went through a similar dip when KD joined too.

chris.herring: The last thing you want is Steph playing nice when you need him to be Steph.

natesilver: It does just seem kind of impossible when you have to shut down Steph AND KD and Klay. Even if the rest of the team kind of sucks.

chris.herring: I tend to think this helps them for now, but the Rockets series was one of the overarching reasons they signed Cousins — to make it so Houston couldn’t switch as much as they did on them last year

natesilver: Yeah. So in some ways, we’re back to last year’s series, which was as even as it gets. The Rockets lately are playing as well as last year. And the Warriors without Cousins are basically last year’s team.

sara.ziegler: After this matchup, will we even want to finish out the playoffs??

natesilver: Well, the Western Conference finals are likely to be an anti-climax.

tchow: LOL. Yes! I for one am very interested to see who comes out of the East to play against Warriors/Rockets.

Check out our latest NBA predictions.

What Comes After 840? The Answer May Surprise You.

Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up problems related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. There are two types: Riddler Express for those of you who want something bite-size and Riddler Classic for those of you in the slow-puzzle movement. Submit a correct answer for either,2 and you may get a shoutout in next week’s column. If you need a hint or have a favorite puzzle collecting dust in your attic, find me on Twitter.

Riddler Express

From Guy Moore, a puzzling progression:

What is the sequence below, and what are its next elements? (The numbers in parentheses provide a helpful hint.)

1 (1)
2 (2)
4 (3)
6 (4)
12 (6)
24 (8)
36 (9)
48 (10)
60 (12)
120 (16)
180 (18)
240 (20)
360 (24)
720 (30)
840 (32)

Submit your answer

Riddler Classic

From Keith Wynroe, a concise circular conundrum:

If N points are generated at random places on the perimeter of a circle, what is the probability that you can pick a diameter such that all of those points are on only one side of the newly halved circle?

Submit your answer

Solution to last week’s Riddler Express

Congratulations to 👏 William Cadegan-Schlieper 👏 of Temecula, California, winner of last week’s Riddler Express!

Last week, you bought a new clock, only to be dismayed when you got home to discover that its two hands were identical — the hour hand and the minute hand looked exactly the same. How would you ever know what time it was? You soon realized, however, that this wouldn’t always be a problem. For example, when it’s 12:30, the minute hand is exactly on the 6 and the hour hand is halfway between the 12 and the 1. It can’t be the other way around because if the hour hand were exactly on 6, the minute hand would have to be exactly on 12, which it’s not. So in that case, you know what time it is. But how many times during the day are you not able to tell the time?

The clock’s hands will be indistinguishable 286 times a day. At 264 of those, you will truly not be able to tell the time — and even then only for a split second (and if your eyesight is good enough). Not bad, really, considering such a seemingly defective design.

I received many widely varying approaches to this problem that led to correct solutions. Let’s start with the tidy approach of solver Doug DeMoss:

Every hour, the true minute hand will sweep around the whole clock and the true hour hand will sweep across a one-twelfth segment of the clock. Twelve times during that hour — once per one-twelfth segment — there will come a time where the hour hand and the minute hand could be reasonably mistaken for one another. That is, where they could be reversed and still display a reasonable time of day. For example, at about 10 minutes and 4 seconds past 12, it would be impossible to tell whether the clock is reading that time or about 50 seconds past 2. One of those 12 times, however, is when the hands are perfectly aligned, and in that case, we do know what time it is. So there are 11 times an hour when we can’t tell the time, and there are 24 hours in a day, so the answer is 24×11, or 264.

And here’s an arithmetic submission from solver Michael Branicky:

If the hour hand has moved a fraction of the circle h from midnight, then the minute hand has moved m = h/12. Thus, h = 12m. We are searching for times that are also valid the other way around, or m = 12h. Combining those equations, this occurs when h = 144h, or 143h = 0, where both equations are mod 1. This happens 143 times every 12 hours, when h = k /143 for integer k = 0, 1, …, 142. In a full day, this happens 286 times. However, we must also remove the cases — such as midnight — when the minute and hour hands overlap. These happen when h = m, or when h = 12h (again, mod 1), or whenever 11h is an integer. This happens 11 times every 12 hours, or 22 times every full day. Therefore, if you carefully measure the hands, you cannot tell the time at just 286-22 = 264 times during the day.

Solver Mike Seifert took a graphical approach. He plotted the position of the big hand and the little hand, with the big hand’s position as the x-coordinate and the little hand’s position in the y-coordinate. He then flipped the x and y coordinates. Anywhere the two paths coincide is an ambiguous time:

Finally, a few intrepid solvers explained that this clock question could be solved using topology, by thinking about the positions of the hands as a torus and by appealing to the Poincaré duality.

Or I could just check my phone.

Solution to last week’s Riddler Classic

Congratulations to 👏 Mark Matthews 👏 of Milton, Georgia, winner of last week’s Riddler Classic!

The Virginia Cavaliers and the Baylor Lady Bears cut down the nets in the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments this month. But what about the unsung transitive champions — the teams that beat those teams during the season, and the teams that beat those teams, and the teams that beat those teams, and so on? Enter last week’s challenge: How many transitive champions were there this past season in the men’s and women’s games? I provided links to the men’s and women’s season results.

There were 359 transitive national champions on the men’s side, including every single Division I school. We’re gonna need a lot more scissors and nets.

Unless you had a lot of time on your hands — and a lot of paper — this problem was an exercise in data analysis and programming. Many solvers were kind enough to share their code, including Benjamin Phillabaum, Colin W., David Fried and Kyle Tripp. Mathematically, this basketball problem is really an exercise in graph theory — the teams are the graph’s vertices and the games are the graph’s directed edges, pointing from the winning team to the losing team. The challenge, therefore, is to see which vertices ultimately connect to the real NCAA champion. And most, as it turns out, did connect.

Luke Benz plotted the men’s Division I transitive champions by degrees of separation and by conference. Teams in the ACC, for example — Virginia’s conference — tended to have tighter claims to the transitive championship, while teams in a conference such as the Patriot League could lay only more distant claims.

The team with the longest path to a coveted transitive national championship were the Division II Fayetteville State Broncos, who can smile upon a chain of eight games. They beat UNC-Asheville who beat USC Upstate who beat Longwood who beat Southern Miss who beat Old Dominion who beat Syracuse who beat Duke who beat Virginia. Congratulations, Broncos!

There were a whopping 1,775 transitive national champions on the women’s side even though true champion Baylor lost only one game all season. (The women’s results to which I linked included many more teams, for one thing, including Division III teams and teams in Canada.) Every Division I women’s team was a transitive national champ — except for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, who went 2-27 and were winless against other D-I teams.

Eight different teams on the women’s side tied for the longest path, claiming their transitive title thanks to chains of 25 games! One example: the St. Mary’s Lightning (in Alberta) beat Briercrest who beat Okanagan who beat Capilano who beat Vancouver Island who beat Bellevue College who beat Umpqua who beat North Idaho who beat Chandler-Gilbert who beat Anoka-Ramsey who beat Hibbing who beat Bay College who beat Silver Lake who beat Concordia who beat Rochester College who beat Spring Arbor — deep breath — who beat Keiser who beat Florida Memorial who beat Xavier University of Louisiana who beat Southeastern Louisiana who beat SMU who beat South Florida who beat UCLA who beat Cal who beat Stanford who beat Baylor. Phew. Congratulations, Lightning!

Michael Branicky shared his code and plotted the distribution of all the transitive national champions by their shortest distance from beating the actual champion:

Anyway, great season, everybody.

Want more riddles?

Well, aren’t you lucky? There’s a whole book full of the best puzzles from this column and some never-before-seen head-scratchers. It’s called “The Riddler,” and it’s in stores now!

Want to submit a riddle?

Email me at [email protected]

Significant Digits For Friday, April 19, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. For even more facts, figures and discussion, check out our live FiveThirtyEight Politics podcasts in Texas in May.


448 pages

In case you were busy circumnavigating the world in a hot air balloon or something, a redacted version of the full 448-page Mueller report was released to the public yesterday. Among many, many other things, the report describes President Trump’s reaction upon first learning that a special counsel had been appointed: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” [ABC News]


7 of 18 Democrats

The New York Times sent a climate policy survey to 18 Democratic presidential candidates. Their responses were not monolithic. They all supported remaining in the Paris Agreement, for example. But seven favored a carbon tax, while five others were only willing to consider it. And only seven were “unequivocally in favor of new nuclear energy development.” [The New York Times]


380,000 years after the Big Bang

Long, long ago, a mere 380,000 years after the Big Bang, helium hydride was formed — the first molecule ever to form in the universe. The molecule has since been produced in labs but had been hard to find in space. But now, billions of years after the Big Bang, scientists have discovered helium hydride in a planetary nebula in the constellation of Cygnus, confirming astronomical theories about the “dawn of chemistry.” [The Guardian]


Lowest since 1969

Fewer Americans are filing for unemployment benefits than at any time since 1969, according to the Labor Department. Claims for jobless aid — a proxy measure for layoffs — fell by 5,000 last week to 192,000, the lowest since September 1969. [Associated Press]


27th in WAR

You know what’s also experienced a remarkable fall: the Boston Red Sox. They’re off to a 6-13 start this season and may already be in real trouble, my colleague Neil Paine writes. According to wins above replacement, the Sox have gone from the third-best team in Major League Baseball last season to the 27th-best so far this year. [FiveThirtyEight]


$100 million

The National Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid, is being sold by American Media Inc. to the CEO of Hudson News, aka that place you buy magazines and Skittles in the airport. The Enquirer had been overseen for many years by David Pecker, a longtime Trump loyalist. [The Washington Post]


From ABC News:
It's Morning, America: Friday, April 19, 2019


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.