Graph Peeves

Something that annoys me no end is people visualizing data in a misleading way (sometimes deliberately, but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt a few times). So I’m putting together this post with examples of (mostly) graphs and other visualizations I come across that deserve to be called out. It will probably be an ongoing post, starting with the straw that broke the camel’s back.

1. Column Graphs that don’t start from zero

That graph from a PandoDaily article calling Apple out on misleading marketing collateral makes it seems like the pixel density on other phones is 4-6 times that of the iPhone 5. Because of the size of the columns. Until you take a closer look to see that the graph starts at 300, not 0. Here’s what the right graph would look like (yes, PandoDaily has gotten the LG Optimus G PPI numbers wrong):

The iPhone 5 doesn’t quite so bad now.

I’m going to keep updating this post, as a compilation of sorts, also as a list of things NOT to do when visualizing data. So if you have examples of other kinds of misuse, please point it out in the comments and I’ll add it here.