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Woman to grump man: “I’d forgotten how pissy you get when one of your tweets gets ratioed.”

Twitter math

Twitter math published on Purchase print

Ratioed (see also “the ratio”): When a tweet garners more comments than likes, suggesting it is unpopular.

Square rooted: When the number of comments on a tweet is the square of the number of retweets, suggesting your followers aren’t into sharing and probably didn’t watch Sesame Street.

Quadraticked: When the pace of likes on a tweet over time (t) = at^2 + bt + c. If a is a positive value, it suggests the tweet was popular, then overexposed, then became kind of retro-hip. If a is a negative value, it suggests people are messing with you. (Note that most of the time you will also have a negative number of likes. So, high school all over again.)

Logarithmicked: When the number of likes is the exponent to which a tweet’s character count must be raised to equal the total number of Twitter users, suggesting the advent of Gnarr the Destroyer is at hand.

Sudokued: When the digits in a tweet’s number of likes, retweets and comments, along with its character count, can be arranged in a grid to form a simple, diverting puzzle, suggesting the singularity has occurred and we all missed it.

Fibonaccied: When the number of likes on a tweet equals the character count, the number of retweets equals the character count plus the number of likes, the number of comments equals the character account plus the number of retweets, and the number of followers on the tweet’s account equals the number of comments plus the number of retweets, suggesting you’re reading too much into your metrics.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld would like to be your friend

Ernst Stavro Blofeld would like to be your friend published on 5 Comments on Ernst Stavro Blofeld would like to be your friend

Metrics. They’re so tempting to chase, because you can so easily see your progress: this many Likes. This many friends. This many retweets. This many uniques.

But very few metrics have ultimate meaning; they’re mostly means to an end. Maybe that end is profit. Maybe it’s social change. Maybe it’s finding love in an uncertain world. (And for the record, “two hearts beating as one” is too a measurable outcome.)

Don’t just obsess about metrics. Interrogate them. Skeptically. “Yeah? So what?” is a solid opening question. Once you get that answer, so is “Since when?” Sometimes “Says who?” isn’t a bad one either.

Otherwise, we end up chasing metrics instead of goals. We follow tactics instead of strategy. And instead of focusing on that one thing we truly want to achieve, we settle for being a hundred people’s ninth favourite thing.


I will grasp at any straw, no matter how thin, to do a Bond cartoon. This probably wasn’t my most technically proficient cartoon ever… but it was fun as hell to draw.

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