18 September 2009

Naughty Pie Chart Perspective

Lynne Featherstone's website is undergoing a revamp. The 'Under Construction' banners make it clear that this is a work-in-progress, but early indications are that this is a very nice job and is raising the bar for other MPs and PPCs.

Sadly however I must take issue with the pie-chart showing the vote in her constituency at the 2005 general election. It misleads the voter into thinking that her lead against Labour is bigger than it really is.

As you can see, a perspective has been added to the pie chart. The perspective has been chosen so that it puts the Labour sector at the 'back'. This makes the area of Labour's sector smaller. I did a quick hack of the image, and counted the pixels in each sector of the pie:

Compare these numbers to the ones shown on the pie chart from Lynne's site. The Labour vote visually appears to have been shrunk by nearly half. A clever but naughty trick.

In all likelihood this was done without Lynne's consent or approval. I also question whether we want to make it look like the Labour vote look smaller than it actually is. It might induce apathy in our vote if they feel there is less at stake. However the salient point I am making is that graphics should accurately portray the situation. We will lose the electorate's trust when we inevitably get caught.

This is a persistent problem. During the Norwich North by-election, the Conservatives fiddled with the height of the bars. The Sun recently misrepresented the result of an opinion poll by using the diameter rather than the area of circles to show the level of support.

I intend on producing some election graphics in the near future, and am also thinking of ways of quickly producing graphics during election night. I can assure you I won't be up to any of these naughty tricks!

UPDATE (17:15) - Simon Dickson, principal consultant at Puffbox (the designers of Lynne's new site), responded on his blog (in the comments):
No attempt to mislead with the graphic, purely a question of aesthetics. But if people feel it's misleading, we'll certainly take another look at it.
I am happy to take Simon's word on this, although I do think it should be corrected, as it is best to look impeccably clean. Let him know your opinion.

1 comment:

Alix said...

Good for you. We don't need to do this stuff.