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Old 02-25-2011, 07:02 AM   #1
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More accurate detail tracking?

Some vehicles need more specific engine information for accurate comparison tracking...

For example; The Ford Flex comes with two different engines and two different drive-lines. All of which have a significant affect on the MPG. At least the engine being a huge factor item. There's the V6, then the V6 turbo... Right now they are all grouped together even though the turbo (ecoboost) get's ~ 20% worse (or worse depending on the 'foot') MPG. Really, it's no different than say a Mustang V6 and V8. It is a very different power plant. It might use the same block but going from ~ 260HP non-turbo to the ~ 355 HP turbo, there's a huge difference in the fuel demands.

Anyhow; it would be nice to add this capability to the engine selection. However handling every single vehicle might be an issue but this is just one example which would have a huge impact on the data accuracy and integrity. JMHO...
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:21 AM   #2
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Thanks for the suggestion. Absolutely, there are many more aspects of vehicles that would be great to track and compare. When we set up the site we chose what we felt were the bare minimum of attributes to track. And a question we constantly ask ourselves: is Fuelly a site for car enthusiasts? I think the answer is no. The simplicity is going to be too frustrating for people who are very knowledgable about cars.

The question we want a positive answer to: will Fuelly help average drivers find out their fuel economy? We think that's a yes. Once you're tracking your fuel economy you have the ability to change it.

A nice side effect of all this tracking is that we get to compare notes. They're not perfect notes, but we can compare just to get a rough sense of how things are going.

Our thinking is: if we aim the site toward car enthusiasts, we lose average drivers. What we would gain in data accuracy we would lose in lack of data. We're trying to find a way for large numbers of people to participate without feeling alienated.

It's a tough line to walk, and I completely agree that more data points to compare would mean more accuracy. But I also believe more data points would mean less data overall. So we're erring on the side of trying to get more people thinking about fuel economy. We're less concerned about gathering scientifically accurate data, and more concerned with the effect that a large number of people monitoring their fuel economy has in the world.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:11 AM   #3
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Could you not do both?

As you mentioned you created the site with the idea of allowing users to track their own gas usage, period. With the intent that someone not so knowledgable about cars could simply log in, add their info and see their own stats and adjust their driving from there. I too agree that is GREAT.

However how many of those non enthusiasts are going to delve into the other parts of the site to drill down to a car year and model to see how other cars are doing compared to their own MPG?

To add to that, IF someone less knowledgable were to do so, by not sorting out AT LEAST engine differences, the list of jumbled data they find is going to be useless, because as the OP mentioned, they are going to track their 6 cyl turbo model and see they are getting 19MPG then see a list of other vehicles in the same car family, but 4cyl option, getting 30+ MPG and wonder what they are doing so wrong.

And truly if you think about it, only a car enthusiast would be so concerned as to dig into the nitty gritty to compare the numbers.

I would hope any car owner is going to at least know what type of engine they have in their car, if not you could make that an optional field, so us enthusiasts could at least compare numbers with those who know what they are driving.

I think this is a GREAT site and use it frequently, I just want to add my thought to how you could continue to make this site even better.
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:28 AM   #4
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At least I'm not the only one feeling this way. I write data analysis software for a living and know the meaning of numbers which is why this particular issue bothers me so much. Especially with something simple as just the different engine types. Even if it was just V6 and another option for + Turbo, twin-turbo or Supercharger, etc.. At least that would help break it down some. But without some identifying data; you might as well just group all vehicles in one huge pile. And if that's the case, this site just isn't for me. I wanted to accurately track my mileage and be able to compare it to other like-owners which this just doesn't let me do. Right now it's looks like I'm a fuel-conserving god which is just not accurate at all. I even have a heavy right foot. And right now that also tells me that you have only the enthusiasts right now with mostly the ecoboost engine (twin-turbo) and fewer of the naturally aspirated engine...

And I would suspect, you'd get a lot more active support from said enthusiasts than you would the average-joes out there who really never track their mileage (most people don't). IMHO, you need to find a nice balance between simple, yet accurate. Not having a proper engine breakdown is just not accurate enough and makes much of the gathered data all but meaningless... Also tracking drivetrain (AWD/2WD, stick/auto/etc.) could go a step further, but is it necessary? Probably not as much... But right now you're just no where near accurate. In my business, we would throw data such as this out (at least for my vehicle) as garbage.

So the real question is; do you want to risk pushing away enthusiasts who are far more likely to track such information in their vehicles for the average-joe who usually does not accurately track information (or change oil, check tires, etc...). Where do you really want your data to come from? Can't we find a relatively accurate balance with minimal necessary information to get reliable and accurate numbers? Right now it's just not accurate or reliable. And from what I'm hearing out and about, the word about 'Fuelly' itself is that it is not a reliable source... I was told this multiple times while car shopping but now I see why. Is that what the site is after or does it wish to grow and get better?
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:07 AM   #5
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...you might as well just group all vehicles in one huge pile. And if that's the case, this site just isn't for me.

That's completely understandable. Not everyone is going to find comparing notes without more rigorous data collection helpful. It's the difference between comparing notes in a bar vs. performing standardized tests. Casual comparisons are helpful for some, others will find it lacking too much detail.

Is that what the site is after or does it wish to grow and get better?

That's a false choice. The site can grow and get better without catering too much to enthusiasts. Collecting detailed data is not our overriding goal. We want to help people think about and track their mileage. In our way of viewing things, catering everything to enthusiasts means that would happen less. It's a balance we're trying to strike.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:00 PM   #6
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If the site's main goal is to help people "think about and track their mileage", then why even ask for car details and offer the option to compare against others?

Obviously the secondary goal is to allow those tracking their mileage to be able to compare it against like models to see how they compare, hence the option to view other data and to keep that information strictly public.

As SirGCal mentioned, by not at least being specific about engine and drivetrain options, you are not giving good data for comparison. We are not asking you to cater to "car enthusiasts" per say, but at least to "fuel economy" enthusiasts.

Is the hesitation due to major infrastructure change (i.e. updating forms to include extra engine choices) or due to the fear of "alienating" non-enthusiasts?

If it is the former, I can understand the hesitation, but I sincerely doubt it is that, you guys have created a great site, and continually to update other parts that you feel need updated.

If it is the latter, how would adding an OPTIONAL field to drill down for more accurate data alienate anyone? When I fill out a form and it asks me for demographic data and it says clearly that it is optional, if I don't feel the asking party needs to know I am a white male I answer "I prefer not to answer" and move on. Surely you could have the default for engine choice "unknown" and then allow options for turbo, supercharged, et al... or even as simple as Naturally Aspirated and Forced Induction. Anyone seeking info would know well enough what type of forced induction that model came with from the factory. Same goes for drivetrain, a simple unknown, fwd, rwd, 4wd, awd would suffice.

I have seen this question asked a few times on the forums here, so apparently more users than you think want this option.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:53 AM   #7
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I think we're firmly in "agree to disagree" territory. I hear what you're saying, and I think there's definitely a place for a site you're describing. There are several other mileage trackers online and some of them do require more detail before you can add data. The EPA has its own mileage tracker.

Our site was founded in part as a reaction against sites that require too much data. Matt and I aren't car guys. We found that the existing sites were too much greasemonkey, not enough "average joe". So we built what we felt was good for people like us. If we offer a form that includes 15 different options, it will alienate people. Even if those 15 fields are optional. It's the tyranny of choice. By whittling things down to the bare essentials we invite more people to participate.

I absolutely hear your frustration with the site. I understand it. I'm not a car enthusiast but I am into photography. If there was a photography gear site that compared lenses by focal length but not aperture it would drive me crazy and I would find a different site. On that different site someone who just uses a little point and shoot camera would see the word "aperture" and think, "this site is over my head." Sometimes people who become specialists in any particular area aren't the best people to build something for generalists in a particular area.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:51 PM   #8
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See. There's a difference between being setup for the layman; and being horribly inaccurate. Unfortunately that's what you're currently labeled as to the public... Every dealer I mentioned the site to either never heard of it or nearly (or did) laughed directly at me and stated the site is (for lack of a nicer word) 'laughable' as a whole. If that's you're goal, well you're on the way...

Anyhow, thanks at least for clarifying your position. I've removed my vehicles. Honestly without being at least remotely accurate, I don't understand what-so-ever your goal for the website is... but best of luck... Sorry to bother ya...
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:48 PM   #9
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Wow.

You say that its being horribly inaccurate, and to be honest, you are only referring to the various engine models.

You should know as most of us do, that the information is only going to be as accurate as the people who enter it.

Most people wouldn't know exactly what engine type or drivetrain they are going to have, to know what to pick.

For those of you that want to be specific, simply jot that down into the details about your vehicle. If someone else who is as specific want to know more, they can simply hit the info page and see this information in your vehicle profile. Then at least you can't be pointed at and told "hey, this guy/gal doesn't know what they have". Cause you would, and it would be specified.

And because I like to argue both points, yes it would be extremely helpful to have a more varied pic with regards to the engine types. Body packages etc, really don't matter that much, but yes the engine and transmission stuff will, from a reports perspective.

What we need, is something simple. Like a couple of optional fields for the engine and transmission. One that the user can fill in. Downside? We may get entries like... V6, or v 6, or 6 cylinder, stuff like this for example. It will be based on fields entered by the user themselves. Due to this, there will be inaccurate typings.

The up side? Fuelly will not have to retrain the database every week adding in the difference options (unless they come across particularly popular ones).

Then all they have to have is in the vehicle results/stats pages for all vehicles, when you are sorting them by brands, makes, etc, have the option to filter by the user supplied entries, but warn that inaccurate results can be shown do to the fact that the users themselves fill those fields.

But the default views will be as they are now. They can only be refined if someone chooses those fields. Otherwise all data will present the same as it does now.

Surely that is one way of helping this situation.... Just my thoughts.
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:57 PM   #10
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Hint.

This suggestion could even be used for other things as well. There is no limit to what the users could have for narrowing down the field of choices for their vehicle. It could even be used for things like synthetic oil, or cold/hot climate use, tire brands, anything. But that may be getting a bit extreme. Point is, Fuelly would not have to add these themselves. And you could update or change them anytime.
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