Monday, 20 April 2015

Fun Online Poll: The value of a place in a queue

The results to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

What has more influence on the value of your place in a queue?

The number of people in front of you - 40%
The number of people behind you - 60%

That's a bit disappointing, given how easy the question is. If people had chosen at random, the result would have been barely different.

It is also strange that the known Georgists get it straight away, but the known Homeys twist and turn and say "Ah yes but…" and bring all sorts of other variables into the question.

Clearly, the answer is that the number of people behind you has a more influence (everything else being equal).

James James: ... the price you will have to pay to get to the same position again in the queue if you leave it, is the number of people behind you.

Thomas Hall: If you join a queue of ten at a bank, and you wait ten minutes and all the time no-one else joins, you might feel annoyed/the biggest loser.

Conversely, if you join a queue of ten at a bank, and immediately afterwards loads more people join the queue, you feel happy you got in at the right time- even if in both instances you wait identical times to be seen.

How do we measure the value of a place in a queue? How likely you are to leave it and start again.

If there is nobody behind you, you are quite happy to nip off and do something else and come back later. If there are loads of people behind you, then you are more likely to stay put. That is entirely independent of how many people are in front of you.

Equally clear is that nearer the front you are, the more your place is worth, but that is because the nearer the front you are, the more people are behind you.


Nessimmersion said...

It's more of a nonsense question that seeks to predefine your answers on the two answers acceptable to the mindset of the queationer. The real answer is of course, why is my time being wasted in a queue in the first place. The mindset that sees queue time as being acceptable is one of those top down mentalities, in reality a minute spent in a queue is still a minute wasted, pointless comparisons with how many are in front of / behind you, are only wasting precious time on your journey from infantilism to senescence.

ThomasBHall said...

What a silly post. Time spent in a queue is not "wasted"- it depends on what one is queueing for surely? I was walking down Buckingham Palace Road the other day, and I noticed a number of people camping around the block. I wondered if it was a protest, or maybe waiting for a festival bus? Anyway- I asked one of them why they were there. Apparently, a travel agent was offering return flights to new zealand for £75 the following day, and these people were queueing for the limited tickets. Clearly, waiting overnight was worth the saving on the ticket price for those people- so not wasted at all... Similarly, if I need something enough, the queue will be worth it regardless of length (think food when starving for example). What we are talking about is completely unrelated to whether or not the queue is "worth it"- it is merely asking what a PLACE in a queue is worth. There might be situations where it is worth very little (place 6 in a queue for 5 tickets), but the residing principle that the additional time lost by vacating the queue sets the value of the PLACE in said queue still stands.

Random said...

What are one of those I wonder?