The occasional lapse in fact checking

I went to a presentation today about some stuff the company I work for is going to be doing, and at the beginning of the presentation some statistics were thrown around, usual product stuff… including one claiming that this thing would have a potential reach of tens of billions of users. That number would continue to roll around my head during the whole presentation. I tried to ask a question at that point, but I was in the back corner of the room and wasn’t seen with my hand raised.

After the presentation, when people started clearing out of the conference room, I went up to the guy and said, “So, in the beginning of the presentation, you threw out a number: tens of billions of users?”

“Yes, tens of billions.”

“And these are hits, or unique users, or…?”

“Unique users, yeah.”

“So my next question is, given that there’s only six-and-a-half billion people, roughly, on the planet, how are you figuring tens of billions? Did we make contact with an alien race?”

He did not find this question as amusing as I did. It turns out he got the number from another source, and involves the number of users/viewers across multiple forms of media, so there’s a bunch of overlap. He then admitted he should probably clarify it in the presentation. I would hope so… and better that I say something; I’m the webdev ribbing him good-naturedly, not an exec that might also catch these sorts of things who would see this presentation later.

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