Several years ago, my roommate randomly asked me “What do you think the most forgettable state is?”. I decided to turn that question into a map.
The only real challenge with creating this map was to find out which state people forget the most. I don’t really have the time or resources to conduct a survey myself, but luckily there are quiz websites online that already do that for me, like Sporcle.
Sporcle calls itself “The Worlds Largest Trivia Quiz Website”. It has several different quizzes that ask the user to enter all 50 states from memory against a timer. After taking the quiz, the user can view statistics so they can compare how they did against other users. I took the statistics from 5 of these quizzes and combined them to figure out which states are most frequently forgotten.
You can take a quiz to see how well you do here.
Some of the results from this analysis were expected. The coasts were well remembered and I expected California, Texas, and New York to be high on the list. I was pretty surprised by how well N and S Dakota scored though. I guess people remember their names.
Or maybe there are a lot of Sporcle users from the Dakotas? Here’s a tabular look at the results, with lower numbers being more memorable:
All of the geographic data is from Natural Earth.
This map was created using QGIS and GIMP. The first task was to create two maps in QGIS – a basemap of the US and a map to be used as a mask in GIMP. For the mask map, I joined the Sporcle data to the states shapefile by Name and symbolized the forgettability on a greyscale gradient with white for the minimum value and black for the maximum value.
I imported both maps into GIMP and used the mask map to set the transparency of each state based on how they scored in forgettability. Finally I added a seamless cloud texture behind the map to create the final product.