Spyderco Mule Team Details

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.
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SeanH
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Postby SeanH » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:01 pm

I like the idea of having the info up front with the blade.

I don't think having the knowledge of the steel or its properties will sway my feelings or findings while I put them through their paces.

I also hope the steel type and RC is stamped into the blade. My thought here is that, years down the road when the test blades are in use arround my house, I would not want to have to look up the code to know whate type of steel I was using, or sharpening.
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Postby T-Rex » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:14 pm

I'm happy it's coming soon. :D
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CWO
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Postby CWO » Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:44 pm

Great news. I can live with specs before or after the mule is available (I see both sides). It would be helpful to mark the steel code in a place that any custom scales we might apply won't obscure it.

I look forward to the first one!

CWO

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Postby aj1985 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:54 pm

Well can we atleast try to bring the shipping rate down a bit for the Canadians. Just thought i'd ask cause 25 bucks is like another Byrd that i could get :D . anyways take care and i can not wait.

aj

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SeanH
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Postby SeanH » Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:34 am

aj1985 wrote:Well can we atleast try to bring the shipping rate down a bit for the Canadians. Just thought i'd ask cause 25 bucks is like another Byrd that i could get :D . anyways take care and i can not wait.

aj
Would it be feasable for a volunteer in each contry with heavy participation to take shipment of all blades to their contries users then post the blades localy?
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Postby uhiforgot » Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:01 pm

[quote="ducktaper"]That's how I feel, too.
But I had a crazy notion, one I mentioned elsewhere: it would be very interesting to acquire mule issues without knowing AT THAT TIME what steel composition it is]
Oy...

I didn't think about that :o Well... um...

Sounds interesting, but forgot what I was gonna post :rolleyes:

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ok

Postby spydercojoe » Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:29 pm

I would be interested, sounds great.

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Postby Slick » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:05 pm

This "mule" thread has forced me to register at Blade Forums to follow the thread. NO! I did not want to register at yet another website but these mules pushed me over the edge.

I am looking forward to a bevy of Temp-like blades to play with.

I assume Sal will make money on these? How about the first mule is "base price" and additional blades are cost plus? Or nuts who pre-order the set get dibs on any extra knives? I personally don't want to beat a Damasteel mule if it will be the only one I can order.

Exotic steels will be the real draw for these. Sal will be amazed at all the new 'friends' he has for them.

I would like one of each and two each of the cool ones.

All in all my most likely use of fixed blades will be in the kitchen.
Not really all that slick ;)

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sal
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Postby sal » Tue May 01, 2007 3:57 pm

Hi Slick.

They'll all be cost plus.

sal

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TheSavageRabbit
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Postby TheSavageRabbit » Tue May 01, 2007 5:37 pm

Do we have any idea yet as to what the price range will be?
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Postby smcfalls13 » Tue May 01, 2007 9:05 pm

TheSavageRabbit wrote:Do we have any idea yet as to what the price range will be?
Well if the price is going to be cost plus, than it really depends on the steel. An expensive steel that is difficult to machine will be more expensive. It's impossible for Spyderco to quote an estimated price now, which I assume is why theres been no response yet.

I believe the first mule is going to be 52100. It's a relatively inexpensive steel that is easy to work with(I think Sal mentions he likes to forge with it) so I'd expect this particular mule to be very reasonably priced.

If there's ever a CPMS(Insert random number with at least 3 digits)V mule, expect it to be much higher in cost.

Cost of Steel + Labor + Profit= What we pay. Give or take ;)
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Postby mule skinner » Fri May 11, 2007 10:55 am

oh i wish i had some cash :(

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Bolster
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Methodology

Postby Bolster » Sun May 13, 2007 1:31 pm

[quote="ducktaper"] It would be very interesting to acquire mule issues without knowing AT THAT TIME what steel composition it is]

Duck is right. This sort of methodology is absolutely necessary for Sal & Co. to draw valid conclusions. If the type of steel is known to the user, you're going to get all sorts of biases creeping into the data. As soon as people know it's "CPM---V," or whatever, people are going to find it cuts differently, due to prejudgments. Any time you ask questions with highly subjective answers, you absolutely must run a "blind experiment," where the subjects (in this case, the forumites) don't know what's what. Trust me, voice of experience.

The other thing you would want to avoid, from a methodology point of view, is for a consensus to develop early on. Ideally, you don't want to allow the "subjects" to know what the other "subjects" think until the experiment is over. So Sal's best data would come from direct reporting, from user to Spyderco, rather than lengthy forum threads.

Of course, it's up to Sal regarding how rigorous he wants to get. But this is how a research scientist would set it up.
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Postby smcfalls13 » Sun May 13, 2007 2:13 pm

Well said Bolster :cool:
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Sleeping Robot
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a lack of ambition...

Postby Sleeping Robot » Sun May 13, 2007 4:39 pm

Bolstermanic wrote:Any time you ask questions with highly subjective answers, you absolutely must run a "blind experiment," where the subjects (in this case, the forumites) don't know what's what. Trust me, voice of experience.
Bolstermaniac is correct, IF you are trying to obtain certain levels of confidence in the results of the subjective comparisons. That's pretty important in some situations, like trials of new pharmaceuticals. My goals are much more modest. I just want to try out a few new steels, make some nice wood scales, etc. I suspect I am not alone in these more modest goals. I would love to know the results of a methodologically sound study, but I don't want to be part of it.

There are some characteristics of the mule program that would make it tough to run blind trials. For one thing, not everyone is buying the whole series. People buying individual knives, like me, will want to know what kind of steel they are buying. Even people buying the series will still know what kind of steel is coming in with the next mule, so its tough for them to remain blind. Even if you put code letters on them, the person getting the knife in will know what kind of steel goes with the code due to the timeframe when it arrives. To get around that Sal and Co. would have to send out mules made from randomly-assigned steels. That's kind of a tough sell to make to people to people like me, and a lot of work for them to run.

Please, just stamp the steel type into the mule. People who REALLY want to run a methodologically sound study can go to the extra effort of over-stamping the steel type and adding a code. That is far from the hardest thing they would have to do to run a really sound study. Please don't make life hard for those of us who are not trying to be so ambitious.

Thanks,
Ron

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Postby Bolster » Wed May 16, 2007 11:03 am

I hate to disagree with you Ron, and you raise some good points. I will be the first to admit that a blind study is more complex, and less fun for the subjects & experimenters.

On the other hand, it's incorrect to say that the rationale for a blind study is to obtain confidence levels (the rationale is validity of the results--that you actually got a reliable answer to your question) or that blind studies are relevant primarily for 'important' studies like pharm drugs (blind studies are important any time that subjectivity can contaminate the results--the vast majority of serious studies are run blind, and I imagine there are all kinds of subjective allegiances to various steel formularies that could contaminate the results).

Unless I've misunderstood, Sal's intent is to obtain feedback on various steels that uncover their actual performance qualities in the field--not to measure name recognition, or popularity, or loyalty to certain steel formulas, or manufacturers, or loyalty to country of origin, etc. I may have misunderstood, but if determining popularity of steel type is Sal's goal, there are *much* easier ways of obtaining that info, than the proposed mule program. The mule program is a brilliant way to get to the heart of the question, "Which steels do users really prefer in use?" And even the irreverent question, "Can they actually tell the difference between one steel and the other?" In fact, it would be difficult to answer these questions in any other way than what Spyderco has proposed.

There are relatively easy methodological fixes to the objections you raise, except for the "I don't want to wait, I want to know now!" objection. It's generally true that the more valid the research is, the less the subjects enjoy participating in it. (Same goes for the researchers, actually!) Obtaining valid results is hard work all the way around. So what's more important: the immediate gratificaton of knowing what steel you're playing with, or the need for Spyderco to determine which steels are rated highest on perceived merit of the steel under actual field conditions?

Actually, only Sal can answer that question. If the mule test is part of a loyalty/rewards program, then by all means mark the steel. If it's to determine people's brand allegiance to different steel mfgrs or their countries of origin, mark the steel. If it's to determine which steels serve people best, regardless of who makes it, where it's made, or what it's called, then a blind study would be recommended by any researcher worth his or her salt. If the study isn't blinded, you'd find it difficult (I'd say impossible) to separate the hype and lore surrounding certain steel formulas, and actual performance in the hands of users.

Again, Sal's call. I won't be threatening to boycott the mule program, either way he goes. Having been the person who was occasionally forced to toss meaningless data collected by well-meaning researchers who had overlooked important method issues, my only concern is that Sal actually gets the valid information he's after--because he's going to a lot of work to get it.
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Bolster
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Foreknowledge.

Postby Bolster » Wed May 16, 2007 12:24 pm

SeanH wrote:I don't think having the knowledge of the steel or its properties will sway my feelings or findings while I put them through their paces.
Hate to be obtuse, but thousands of social science studies show just the opposite--that foreknowledge and expectation powerfully influences judgment. Just one example, Coca Cola drinkers will loyally choose Coke in unblinded taste tests, but in blinded taste tests many Coke loyalists will choose the sweeter Pepsi. The results of blinded studies are often dramatically different from unblinded studies, more so as (1) the topic of investigation is subjective (2) the topic has been politicized in some way and (3) people are already invested in their existing preferences. How many times have I seen people state a preference for steels produced in certain countries, or by certain manufacturers? We as humans can be amazingly unaware of what influences our own judgments. That's why study methodologies exist. :)
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Stuart Ackerman
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Postby Stuart Ackerman » Wed May 16, 2007 11:25 pm

I would prefer blind testing... :)
But the status quo will be okay... :rolleyes:

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Postby Sleeping Robot » Thu May 17, 2007 9:34 am

Bolstermanic wrote:I hate to disagree with you Ron, and you raise some good points. I will be the first to admit that a blind study is more complex, and less fun for the subjects & experimenters.

On the other hand, it's incorrect to say that the rationale for a blind study is to obtain confidence levels (the rationale is validity of the results--that you actually got a reliable answer to your question) or that blind studies are relevant primarily for 'important' studies like pharm drugs (blind studies are important any time that subjectivity can contaminate the results--the vast majority of serious studies are run blind, and I imagine there are all kinds of subjective allegiances to various steel formularies that could contaminate the results).
My apologies for using the term "confidence levels" in a sloppy way. I'm not a statistician.

The point I was trying to make when I misused the the word "confidence" matches what you said: "the vast majority of SERIOUS studies are run blind". The question for Sal is whether the mule program is to be a serious, methodologically sound, statistically meaningful trial or not.

My second point was that Sal doesn't have to organize and run the trial, and everyone who buys a mule doesn't have to participate in such a study, even if many of us would like for there to be one. People who REALLY care about such a trial can buy the series of blades. Once they have acquired a few blades they can start to run their own, sound, studies. A few minutes with a Dremel would take care of the steel code and its replacement with a different code. (In fact, that would be better, because if Sal provided the code then it would not be as secret as it could be.) Let Sal provide the knives, and let people who want to run a study take it from there. (I think we could have a good conversation designing the study on this list.)

My final point is that I think simple things should be simple, and people who want to do elaborate things should bear the cost of doing the elaborate thing. I just want to play around with some different steels, and I'd like the steel type to be stamped on the blade. I'd love to see the results of a real study, but I don't want to participate in it and I'd prefer it not overcomplicate my very modest use of the program.

But, just like you, I am not going to boycott the first blade if it comes stamped with some other code.

Best regards,
Ron

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Postby Bolster » Thu May 17, 2007 4:17 pm

Sleeping Robot wrote: The question for Sal is whether the mule program is to be a serious, methodologically sound, statistically meaningful trial or not.
I agree--except for the "statistically meaningful" part. Statistically meaningful is icing on the cake, but basic validity is fundamental to a sound study. See the distinction that I'm drawing? The whole "statistical" thing may be of no interest to Spyderco, but you can bet a valid study is. I agree with you that it's up to Sal to determine what he wants out of the study. If he's OK with a non-valid study, so am I. You can still draw some tentative conclusions from non-valid studies. But then the question is, why do 9/10ths of the work for a valid study and then have confounded, uninterpretable data?
Sleeping Robot wrote: Let Sal provide the knives, and let people who want to run a study take it from there.
Oh, I see what you're saying. Normally the subjects don't run the study. The experimenter does. My impression is that Spyderco is contemplating an experiment, with us forumites as subjects in that study. You're suggesting the equivalent of a meta-analysis, where each subject is in fact an autonomous experimenter running his own study. That approach puts a lot of faith in the methodological ability of each independent experimenter, relies on each of them being blinded to condition, and represents an exponential increase in complexity--but if that's what Sal's after, then so be it.
Sleeping Robot wrote: My final point is that I think simple things should be simple, and people who want to do elaborate things should bear the cost of doing the elaborate thing. I just want to play around with some different steels, and I'd like the steel type to be stamped on the blade. I'd love to see the results of a real study, but I don't want to participate in it...


As Einstein said: "As simple as possible but no simpler." But what is this cost that you are bearing if a code is used? I thought Sal was providing the mules at cost, which is a pretty nice deal! Wouldn't we all like to get all our Spydies at cost--until the company went bankrupt, that is. But it seems to me that Spyderco is bearing the cost (meaning, no profit) in return for valid data from us. That's Spyderco's payback for their effort providing us with these at-cost, one-of-a-kind, exotic steel mules. I think where we disagree is what the study is "about." I think it's about Spyderco getting unbiased user preference information regarding different steels. You think it's about us, the forumites, having fun.

Heck, you might be right. I honestly don't know what Sal has in mind.

Interesting discussion. Hope you and other readers will forgive my long-windedness and understand I'm simply trying to explain what you can & can't get, in terms of knowledge gained, based on how you design a study.
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