Stephens, David: Cooking the (visitors) books: the Australian War Memorial struggles with statistics – again

David Stephens

Cooking the (visitors) books: the Australian War Memorial struggles with statistics – again’, Honest History, 7 February 2017

The article looks at the statistics in the Memorial’s Annual Report 2015-16 for real (flesh-and-blood) visitors to the Memorial and virtual visitors to the Memorial’s website. As with the equivalent analysis 12 months ago, the Memorial’s report leaves us puzzled and perplexed.

The article finds that claims in the report about an increase in real visitors in 2015-16 are not supported by the Memorial’s own statistics – although there is some confusion at one point about which year is being considered. The article finds slightly less confusion than in 2014-15 about website metrics but, instead, describes a major problem where the report uses words and a key statistic from its annual report for the previous year, instead of the year under review. The article concludes that

the claim of an increase in real visitors – ‘visitors walking through the front doors’ – is not supportable by the Memorial’s own statistics and suggests at least sloppiness, if not an intention to mislead. Similarly, there is still a degree of carelessness, even obfuscation, in the Memorial’s website statistics. Most organisations will gild the lily in presenting statistics but they will usually be cleverer at it than the Memorial is – and they will avoid clanging cock-ups like using last year’s statistics.

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