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Statistics and Status Pages

picture of two website pages

If you have peered at various sites as incessantly as I have then, you could not have failed to notice that some sites make use of statistics and status pages, whereas others seem survive quite nicely without them. So what makes one site decide to put in place such pages and another site dismiss them out of hand? This article attempts to explain some of the pros and cons of both statistic and status pages.

First of all let us define what I mean by statistics and status pages.

A statistics page is one that seeks to provide basic statistics about the award program. This tends to cover issues such as the number of applicants per award, the number of awards issued, dates issued and in some cases, the numbers and percentages of sites that have been unsuccessful. A status page is one that provides information about the status of sites under review.

Pros and cons of statistics pages

Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century prime minister of Great Britain is reported to have stated there there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. It is true that statistics of any kind can be manipulated by the producer and misinterpreted by the reader. When it comes to statistics about website awards, this is no less true.

Indeed statistics can often have a powerful, frightening and I would say, very negative effect on potential award applicants. They can dissuade and intimidate with the effect of a loaded gun. You have probably seen the highly graded or rated sites and thought how marvelous it would be to have an accolade from that web program hanging on your website mantle. Then you have sauntered to the statistics page only to find that 1000 people have applied and that only 3 awards have been given. What can be more intimidating than that?

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Ok, so this is all very negative..and obviously since my own award program publicly displays statistics, there must be some perceived benefit to doing so...surely. Well there is! I see the provision of an awards program as the provision of a service. Providing statistics is part of that package. The award program does not hinge on those statistics but the statistics enhance the program by providing detailed information about the program.

I would equate the award program statistics to a car's logbook ( pink slip ) If you drive a car, peer at its engine, kick it's tyres, that will give you an indication of how good a vehicle it is. The logbook merely reinforces what you have learned to be true. It completes the package.

As for statistics becoming intimidating...well I can only give the following advice to prospective applicants of my or anyone else's awards...Go to the award program, look through the criteria and if you think your site qualifies, apply. Don't look at the statistics until after you have applied.

Pros and cons of a status page

I confess to being totally biased with regard to status pages. I see them as an extremely useful tool provided they properly created and well managed.

Poor status pages, in my opinion, are the ones that criticise sites. Such criticism may be overt or covert. For example some status pages will provide the name of the site, how far the review process is and the conclusion of that review process. It is how that conclusion is displayed that can often make the difference between a good status page and a bad one.

A status page that indicates that the review of a particular site has been completed can be perhaps classified as a good one. But if it goes further, clearly indicating sites that have been disqualified or that have been rejected then it becomes a bad one. Worse still are those status pages that give reasons for not awarding sites. I believe strongly that no applicant for an award should be embarrassed in any way for 'daring' to think their site worthy. Criticising a site publically can be a source of embarrassment. But a simple tick in a box to indicate that a site was disqualified or rejected can be just as embarrassing. Award programs may seek to justify this on the basis that their program itself makes it clear that a status page exists and the applicant should know that they are subject to the conditions and policies of the award program. My response would be in unequivocal terms nonsense. Noone deserves public humiliation, whether overtly or covertly. What is more, such a practice is probably contrary to the principles laid down within the ethics policies that most award programs have and claim to hold dear. 

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Perhaps one of the ways to address the problem of the awards manager who wishes to have such a status page as this, is for the awards manager to ensure that the address of the status page is available to applicants only. At least in this way the page is limited to a few and not available to the whole world!

Ok so what about the benefits of the status page? Perhaps in describing the main benefit, I should use my own personal experience. Prior to the erection of a status page the Assess Risk program would receive numerous communications, asking for confirmation that the submissions for evaluation had been received and wondering why the review was taking so long. With the establishment of a status page, the information was readily available to all. Individuals could view the status page and know exactly how far down the line the review of their site had reached.

This is clearly an ideal tool for those programs with an evaluation period that exceeds two weeks.

As a final footnote, statistics and status pages are only as useful as they are up-to-date. If you do not have time to update them, do not employ them.

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