The Best Chart Ever Invented By Anyone Ever

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I have a favorite kind of chart. I’m positive it has a name among statistics people, but I call it the “Show me a line comparing yesterday to today” chart. I first spotted it on Facebook’s platform status page. Along with other system notes, this page shows two charts of statistics comparing the past six hours of today to the same window of time from yesterday.


A Non-Expert Can Spot Changes and Problems

I love this flavor of chart because it’s easy for non-experts to spot when something is up. You don’t really need to know what the lines are measuring to see that “things changed right THERE”. Almost anyone can help monitor your system, and you’ve lowered the barrier for participation. People won’t be discouraged from helping because they aren’t experts.

People are lazy. When given a table of statistics and numbers every day, they eventually stop paying attention. It takes effort to interpret those, and if they rarely change, it’s even harder to keep doing it.

You can put a today vs. yesterday chart up on a screen where everyone can see it and count on at least a few people to glance at it daily, and maybe even raise the alarm if something strange appears.

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