A pedant that hangs out in the dark corner-cases of the web.

Monday, August 15, 2005

IDG accepts criticism of Firefox stats article

After posting "NetApplications report on Firefox stats", I sent an email to many of the news sites responsible:

So, I have to ask, do you just reprint press releases?

A single (possibly self-serving) source, questionable methodology (only NetApplications customers were counted), and no margin of error mentioned for a change of 0.64% ?

What does WebSideStory say?
What does Google say?
What does TheCounter.com say? (Two point increase.)
What does *anyone else* say?

A few hours later, I received an email from Sharon Machlis, Online Managing Editor of ComputerWorld:

Thank you for taking the time to write in (even with a criticism). That article was first published by our sister company, the IDG News Service, and I forwarded your message both to the author of the article there, the editor in chief there, and the news editor here who selected the article for posting. I do think you raise some valid points, such as the importance of margin of error and the usefulness of better explaining the pool where those statistics come from (NetApplications customers tend to be small and mid-sized businesses).


Sharon Machlis
Online Managing Editor

And, just over twenty minutes later, from Juan Carlos Pérez:

Hi Brian,

Thanks for writing. You bring up some valid points in your letter/comment to Computerworld. I'll keep your observations in mind next time I write about browser market share.

thanks again,

Juan Carlos Pérez
U.S. assistant news editor
IDG News Service

NetApplications report on Firefox stats

NetApplications has sent out a press release that has been picked up by Computerworld, The Mac Observer, Digg, The Register, and others claiming that Firefox usage has dropped 0.64% in July.

Apparently, all of these news sites trust this company's interpretation of these stats implicitly, since they do not trouble themselves to provide any additional sources to corroborate the story (TheCounter.com reports a 2-point increase). Nor, as one WaSP reporter points out, do they offer the margin of error for this report, or address the suspect methodology (NetApplications.com only counts the sites using their service).

I'd like to know what WebSideStory, Google, and others have seen.