« Regulating data sharing is heating up | Main | Excel error, but could happen in any tool »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Antonio Rinaldi

Should A/B testing have to be effective? Should A/B testing or the people behind it have to be be ethical? What should ethical mean?
I reply yes to the first question. I confess to be not able yet to reply the last question.
If a company is interested in the number of applications, and if a A/B test shows that a choice yields the largest number of applications, such choice is the most effective.
What about if such choice yields a large number of male applications? It depends. Maybe the choice reflects a bias in the market. But maybe men are more interested in the offered jobs than women. Nobody can force men and women to choose equally all the jobs. The 50%-50% allocation is a pure utopia. And it is neither right. Men and women have to be at par, not equal.
So, until A/B testing doesn't yield a very disproportionate male application rate, I'm not ready to condemn it.
I strongly think that choosing between two alternatives by the number of applications they yield is something foolish. Ten motivated and competent people is better than one thousand of unenthusiastic people.
In other words I question the premise (the first "if" i wrote above) that the endpoit is appropriate. Maybe its effects are unethical, but if so, it's because it's stupid.
These are my thoughts. Am I omitting something important?


The postcode problem has been there for a lot longer than the internet. An example is that I moved to another area and my car insurance increased dramatically. It is due to the driving habits of the local population but is correlated to the ethnicity. As the decision is based on location not ethnicity then it is assumed OK.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Get new posts by email:
Kaiser Fung. Business analytics and data visualization expert. Author and Speaker.
Visit my website. Follow my Twitter. See my articles at Daily Beast, 538, HBR, Wired.

See my Youtube and Flickr.


  • only in Big Data
Numbers Rule Your World:
Amazon - Barnes&Noble

Amazon - Barnes&Noble

Junk Charts Blog

Link to junkcharts

Graphics design by Amanda Lee

Next Events

Jan: 10 NYPL Data Science Careers Talk, New York, NY

Past Events

Aug: 15 NYPL Analytics Resume Review Workshop, New York, NY

Apr: 2 Data Visualization Seminar, Pasadena, CA

Mar: 30 ASA DataFest, New York, NY

See more here

Principal Analytics Prep

Link to Principal Analytics Prep