Convention and function
Convention and function 2

The tweeting crowd

This work by David McCandless, via the Innovations in Newspapers blog, is fantastic.


Much of its power comes from the delightful use of short, precise data labels: "20 dead", "50 lazy", "5 loud mouths". And I love the "subjective" title.

A few considerations.  The current choice of color, and to some extent the location of subgroups, makes the pinks (dead) and the blues (5% with over 100 followers) stand out. Probably not the intent. The grays are not labeled - not a big deal here since they are not the focus of the chart, and there won't be any short, precise labels for the grays (perhaps the average). Because of the color choice, the grays appeared as if they don't belong.

What might work better is to have darker colors on the right side of the chart, and have the colors fade out towards the left (the lazy and the dead).

Also try a 5x20 grid with five blocks. This allows the height of the chart to represent the relative proportions.

David has recently published a beautiful-looking book, only available in the UK currently.  An older book - on visualizing trivia - is available in the US. He has done work for the Guardian and Wired.


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I think the colors are ok. To my eye, both the blue and purple on the right pop a bit. So does the pink, leaving the green and gray, mainly uncommented on, in the middle, distinguishable, but not exciting.

Which I think is the point :-)


I've seen this before and what stood out to me was the fact that it's possible for someone with >100 followers to also be (1) a loudmouth or (2) lazy (although perhaps loudmouth is more likely) - surely this means the data would be better suited to a venn diagram?


If I may quote Chandoo's comment from last year:
"The info-graphic is a sad excuse for making pretty looking charts that are deceiving. It has so many pitfalls that I dont know where to begin.

1. It conveys that dead accounts are separate from lazy ones. If you think for a sec, you will realize that dead is a subset of lazy. The source confirms it too.
2. It conveys that there are no overlaps. This is entirely wrong. There are several overlaps
3. It fails to tell what the gray ones are.
4. The maker of this just took 4 different stats and mixed them in one chart without even questioning whether there are any overlaps."

So tell me again how this chart is "fantastic", because I sure don't see it; I see a true Junk Chart (an in my opinion, nearly every other graphic David McCandless has made). They are beautiful, but great examples of how to lie when displaying data.


This chart surely pressed some hot buttons, which just shows why it is effective. I am not condoning sloppy data; it's just a different issue from whether the presentation is compelling and provocative.

Joe: I explained what I liked about the chart, namely the title and labels, things we often take for granted.

Gerald Higgins

I'm leaning towards junk, albeit pretty, because of the overlaps.
Perhaps a trivial point - why bother to use separate male/female symbols ? Perhaps subtly implying that Tweeters are evenly split 50/50 male/femalie, but also that loud mouths and those with many followers are predominantly female. Are any of these statistics true ?

The chart refers to ACCOUNTS in some places, and PEOPLE in others. How many people have more than one account, and what effect would this overlap have on the chart ?

Another key statistic is not addressed at all. If the world (or US, UK, whatever) community was 100 people, how many would be Tweeters ? The answer to that is probably the main reason to get excited (or not) about Twitter.


Just to mention that the 'older' McCandless book you refer to is the same as the UK book, except with a different (and better) title.

Traffic Generation Cafe

Most of my tweets are retweets of awesome content that I’ve run across. I still take time to engage and interact with others by joining conversations and responding to the tweets of others, but I rarely tweet just to give an update.


the pink and purple stand out the most to me...20 dead and 5 loudmouths...personally I fall in the lazy category


I am pleased to say that this blog raises the belief of those reading it. Please continue the good work.


You can add me to the lazy pile. Nothing wrong with your colors either, communicated the message pretty nicely.


Great post! I am just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well - resources like this article are incredibly helpful.

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