Tuesday, February 12, 2019

design failure - when numbers confuse

I am one of the organizers for BABAM, a Boston-based alliance of activist musicians. We had some internal debate about whether it was appropriate for us as an activist group to get involved in electoral politics - for example, some of our partner bands are 501(c)(3) organizations who would be prohibited from that kind of activity. Or, there might be some members who might object to implicit endorsement for a particular politician.

I created an online survey, and then decided to have some design fun posting  the results. I came up with the following, where the size of each of the 28 votes was a dot, with the size of the dot reflecting how often the person said they attended events. A comment at the top explained that the numbers were references to numbered comments below the main display...

But I was surprised when the first response back from the mailing list was
I may be reading these results wrong, but it looks like :
6 fully
22 quietly
1 indirectly
17 none
1 dunno
Aargh! I'm not quite sure how they were working the math, but clearly the digits were throwing things off.

My fix was to replace the numbers with letters, and then visually repeat the circle motif at the start of the comment itself:

 Ah well. Maybe the thing was trying to be too clever. I may have been too anxious to cross reference what a person voted from how often they showed up (originally I was going to do a 2 axis graph of "frequency person attends" to "enthusiasm for allowing campaign activity)

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