Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Questionable graphics

705 words

Banks try to peddle all sorts of things. Investment stuff, whatever. Usually it’s full of bullshit and consists of big figures stating the profits you could have made with the stuff they try to sell you in some quarter a year or two ago. Naturally it is followed by an asterisk pointing to the small print which invariably mentions that past performance is no indication for the future. Ah well, they aren’t omniscient, after all. Unfortunately this makes the information conveyed be the numbers pretty much non-existent. A waste of ink and paper, so to speak.

But wasting ink and paper is perhaps what they are best at. For some reason they sent me a brochure for bob riders recently. Now let me just ask a few questions: Do sportspeople in colourful tight uniforms have any idea about handling money? Particularly mine? I doubt it. Yet, the ad asks me to trust the professionals (the ones depicted, I naïvely suppose) who work hard to reach my investment goals. In fact, I’d make the point that if those sportspeople were good at business then ther colourful suits would be plastered with ads. Sports business and all. But it isn’t, so quite likely they aren’t any good with money. Even worse: Isn’t bob sliding all about going downhill? Fast? Is that really the message the bank wants to get into my head?

Ad with bob sliding investment bankers

After recycling that, I went to produce some horrible and mostly information free graphics myself (all æsthetical credit going to the most tasteful™ software company on this planet). Considering the ‘news’ Microsoft want to buy Yahoo which the online world has been bickering about in the past days. For me this whole issue about non-Google search engines was settled a few years ago when I looked at our server logs. Obviously this is complete nonsense statistically because I assume the visitors to our site to be highly self-selecting due to its uncommon topics and the lack of porn and I don’t even know how awstats comes up with the numbers. Yet, if these numbers contain even a grain of truth, that truth would be that Yahoo as well as Microsoft are irrelevant as far as internet search is concerned.

In fact, things are even worse than that. Because the Microsoft and Yahoo indexers tend to consume a lot mor of our bandwidth for indexing the site for sending much less people over from their search results. Of course this could be because those search engines are very clever and we are just good enough to fool the dorks at Google. But you’ll have to trust me that we didn’t even try. Look at this:

Two 3D graphs

Of course this won’t tell you anything as it’s nice 3D but lacks any information. So take a guess which colour is which search engine… yup the blue one is Google, going light on our bandwidth, yet frequently having picked up changes in less than a day by now and sending plenty of people from its search results. The huge green chunk of referrers is actually Google as well, but comes via Google Images, so I’m not sure whether those should count.

And just the remaining few per cent are Yahoo’s (yellow), Microsoft’s (red) and Jeeves’ (purple). Looking at those numbers suggests, that for Microsoft this would be big progress indeed – but on a small scale. Interestingly, it seems that Microsoft’s own search robot has become more efficient while Yahoo’s has become less efficient in the past years, by the way.

And if you aren’t entirely numbed by the chartjunk so far, try this one as well:

Chart with Two 3D lines.

While these pixels are essentially wasted as well (a list of all the ways in which this is a bad diagram, anyone?), adding the factoid that the graphs show the referrals per MB of downloads by the spider (in a way the ‘efficiency’ of a search engine from the point of view of a web site owner), makes it apparent that the non-Google search engines have a much worse performance. So bad that we’d need a logarithmic scale to actually compare them visually.

Hmmm, with all these useless graphs of questionable data – I might have a career in business consulting…

February 3, 2008, 1:51

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