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Most of the Time We Get It Wrong

Only “Rarely” seems to have a common understanding

A colleague relayed this story:

At a recent toastmasters meeting, they did a survey.

They were asked what does each of the following words mean, when represented as a percentage?

  • Sometimes
  • Frequently
  • Rarely
  • Often
  • Usually

For example, my friend interpreted “Frequently” to mean “about 60% of the time”….more than half for sure.  I agreed.

We thought that we “knew” how these were interpreted by other people, but when they reviewed the survey, they found that people interpreted these words in such different ways as to make them all interchangeably meaningless.  The percentages are the range of what people ‘thought’ were the accurate occurrences.

Survey Word

(Equals)

Sometimes

10-60%

Frequently

30-95%

Rarely

1-10%

Often

50-90%

Usually

50-98%

Only “Rarely” seems to have a common understanding. ‘Frequently‘ had such a giant range as to be completely useless, with some people thinking that it mean less than half the time and others feeling that it was a near certainty.

With that in mind, from now on I will frequently write stories that are rarely covered often in the media and it will usually involve some stats that I’ll sometimes understand.

Perfect.

ps

 

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.