Drop in the Bucket

We’ve all been having a good collective knee-slap-cum-agita-fit over the ReadWriteWeb Facebook login dustup. (If it can even be called that.) You can familiarize yourself with the particulars elsewhere, I’m not going to retread. What I would like to do is pause for a very brief moment of statistical reflection.

Facebook confirmed last April it has no less than 200 million users worldwide (and every indication is that number has grown since then). Roll that over for a moment.

Now consider the comments left by those lost souls on the ReadWriteWeb article who were genuinely seeking to log in to their Facebook accounts. (I say “genuinely” because there’s clearly some leg-pulling going on as the comments get out of hand.) How many comments on that page from users truly in distress? 200 or so? Okay.

So, just to keep things conservative, let’s say that only 5% of the “confused” users coming to this page actually took the time to leave a comment. A reasonable rate for a large-scale site (based on my own anecdotal experience) and well within the law of the vital few (aka, “the 80/20 rule”). What’s that make? 4,000 frustrated users. Wow, that seems like a lot. But hold on a second…

That’s 0.002% of Facebook’s confirmed user base.

A mere two thousandths of a single percent. Even if you run the tip-of-the-iceberg scenario and up the comments left to 500 while simultaneously dialing down the response rate to 1%, you only come back with 0.025%. A quarter of a hundredth of a single percent of Facebook’s community.

This is all to say—depending on how you like to run the numbers—that this may barely qualify as a statistically significant event. Act accordingly.