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Bring out your bad charts, the ChartBusters are here…



Imagine having two annoying little bloggers looking over your shoulder and trying to mess up with the chart you are making….

I am still waiting, go ahead, imagine…

Introducing ChartBusters - Bad Charts are Good for NothingNow come back, that is exactly what “The Chart DoctorBusters” is all about. It is a new series of posts on PHD and Jon Peltier where we take badly made charts, one at a time and suggest improvements, alternative visualization options and corrective measures.

For a doctor to be really good, he needs to have really sick people. In our case we need bad charts. I mean really bad ones with all those 23 colors or 17 pies or stressful extra grid lines or .. ok, you get the picture.

Here is what you should do:

Here is what Jon and I will do:

Every week we will take one of the really bad charts and post an entire article dissecting the problems and prescribing the treatment. We will take turns, so one week it will be Peltier and next week it will be me. We will also try to comment on each other’s treatment. With some luck, we should get other leading authorities in charting world to come and comment here.

Some rules to keep in mind:

  • We are talking about charts here, not complicated dashboards or vibrating visualizations.
  • As much as possible try to post the actual data associated with the chart and tell us clearly what you think the chart was trying to achieve.
  • Remember, even parapsychologists get psyched.
  • Have fun 🙂

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27 Responses to “Bring out your bad charts, the ChartBusters are here…”

  1. I started my Chart Doctor series on 9/30/06, nearly 3 years ago. Here's the link to the original and still going Chart Doctor:


    I got the idea from Kaiser Fung's Junk Chart site. http://junkcharts.typepad.com/junk_charts/

    I made sure to credit Kaiser. Perhaps you were not aware of my Chart Doctor series or this is another case of Excel Deja Vu All Over Again!


    I'd like an explanation of how you chose to use a very similar name to my series with no reference to my series. Why not Chart Master, Chart Guru, Chart Help., Better Charts or dozens of other names????

    D Kelly O'Day

  2. mark says:

    Here is what Jon and Me will do:

    Ouch, you mean Jon and I?

  3. Chandoo says:

    @Mark.. thanks.. I have corrected it now 🙂

  4. [...] 6/12/09, 21 months after I introduced Excel Chart Doctor, Chandoo and Jon Peltier announce that they are adding a Chart Doctor feature to their [...]

  5. Chandoo says:

    Hi Kelly,

    It is nice to know you (although I would have *loved*to know on a more friendly note than something awkward like this). I am sorry to know that you are hurt by our usage of the term chart doctor.

    When I proposed the idea to Jon, I had no clue it was already existing or you have used it. I never really googled the term or anything like that. It came to my mind, and I immediately wrote to Jon asking if he is up for the a series of posts.

    I firmly believe that ideas are free. It is on my blog policy as well. We encourage readers to take the ideas and use them however they wish. (read the last paragraph on this page: http://chandoo.org/wp/policies/ )

    That said, I still stand by statement that I have no clue you have already provided a whole series of posts with this title.

    I dont mean to hurt you when I came up with the title. It just came to my mind. Both Jon and me run a lot of blog posts around the theme of showcasing a bad chart and suggesting an improvement. We just thought it would be natural to collaborate and extend the ideas.

    How about this? Would you like to be part of this new series of posts, we three can take turns and suggest improvements of poorly made charts. That way you get a chance to revisit the series and all our readers get to enjoy it a lot more.

    Let me know.

    PS: your comment was marked by Akismet as spam (it had too many links I guess). After seeing this post, I went and searched in my spam and retrieved it.

    PPS: I really love processtrends and have been a huge fan of your work for such a long time.

  6. Jeff weir says:

    "I’d like an explanation of how you chose to use a very similar name to my series with no reference to my series."

    In economic terms, these 2 Blogs are non rival goods - perhaps even complimentary. I'm likely to consume more of both of them. No IP is being infringed. I already subscribed to your blog, and I'm not going to unsubscribe just because Chandoo and Jon are doing something along similar lines...as has Stephen Few and countless other invididuals in various community forums ever since excel was invented.

    Your comments on your own site about this are just as disturbing to me.
    "All I ask in return is a little respect and credit if someone uses myideas or work."

    Are you seriously suggesting that Chandoo and Jon are indulging in Plagiarism? Respect is both earnt and burnt. I suspect you just got more of the latter with your rant.

    "I wrote a comment to Chandoo pointing out my Chart Doctor page and asking for an explanation. No response yet."

    What...you think they should drop everything to respond to you within 2 days...never mind international time differences and busy lives. Well, now Chandoo has responded, I hope that at the very least you will acknowledge this on your own site and blog.

  7. Jeff weir says:

    Forgot to mention in my above post that it is a response to Kelly, not Chandoo.

  8. Chandoo:

    Thanks for replying to my comment. Here's a reprint of my post closing the issue...

    Non Issue Is Over

    It's been an interesting 24 hours in the chart blog world. I am happy to announce that the Chart Doctor name issue is completely resolved on my part and I apologize for generating what turned out to be an unnecessary controversy because Akismet flagged my comment to Chandoo's post as spam.

    Chain of Events

    On June 12, Chandoo and Jon Peltier announced that they were starting a new joint feature critiquing bad charts and they planned to call it Chart Doctor. Jon, like several others has done that a lot in the past several years.

    Bad chart criticism is great way to help the data analysis community and I encourage everyone to participate. Certainly Chandoo and Jon are among the most qualified chart bloggers I know so their contributions are and will continue to be important for all of us.

    My only concern was that they planned to use the Chart Doctor name that I had started using 21 months earlier. I wrote a comment to Chandoo's post, on Friday, June 12, linking to my Chart Doctor pages and asking for an explanation of how he could use the same name. I waited for a reply to my comment, either an e-mail from Chandoo or a reply to my comment . On Sunday, 6/14, another comment appeared on Chandoo's post but my 6/12 comment did not show up.

    On Monday, 6/15, I again checked and found no reply to 6/12 comment. Putting 2 and 2 together, I figured that Chandoo was ignoring my comment and was planning to go ahead and use the Chart Doctor name for the new feature.

    I wrote my Original Chart Doctor on 6/15. Chandoo saw my post, checked his Askimet file and found my comment locked away as spam, probably because it had several links that Akismet flagged as spam. Chandoo quickly responded, explaning the Akismet trap of my comment. Jon later posted, indicting that they would likely change the name of their feature. Issue, controversy closed.

    Good Luck to Chandoo and Jon

    I wish Chandoo and Jon the best with their new feature and look forward to reading many interesting posts by them.

    Now let's get back to making better charts and graphs.

  9. Jeff weir says:

    [ I apologize for generating what turned out to be an unnecessary controversy because Akismet flagged my comment to Chandoo’s post as spam.]

    Sorry, but that's incredibly lame to blame Akismet. Akismet didn't write your rant...it just delayed it for a short time. What a way to spoil an otherwise good apology.

  10. Chandoo says:

    @Kelly.. Thanks.

    @Jeff.. thanks for your support.

    @All: I think it is best to leave this issue here and get back to regular program. I dont like the idea of closing comments on a post, so I keep it open for everyone to share the views. Jon and me have decided to rename the series for what its worth. Remember, the idea still remains, it is just that we will call it something else. Bottom line is, no one needs to bother. As they say a 6 sliced pie chart is a bad chart by any name.

  11. Jeff weir says:

    How about a competition to rename it?

    I submit 'Charticus'. It's a takeoff of 'Sparticus' a classic 1960 film about a slave rebellion, in which many slaves captured by Romans claim to be the leader of the rebellion, in order to save the real leader from being crucified by the Roman General Crassius.

    Charticus 1: I am Charticus.

    Charticus2: No, I am Charticus.

    Nasty Roman General: Unless you own up who is the real Charticus, you will Chartdoctor each other to the death, and the winner will be crucified.

    Charticus2: Okay, I admit it. He's the real Charticus.

    Charticus1: Bugger!

  12. [...] You still need to spend sometime figuring out the right chart. That is why Jon and I have started the new chart doctor, where we take badly made charts and convert them to better charts so that it is easy to tell the [...]

  13. Gerald Higgins says:

    @Jeff Weire - SpartAcus, I think, and therefore ChartAcus, I would guess 🙂

    But enough already !

    When do we get to see some ChartPatients, and ChartMedicine ?

  14. Fespa says:

    Doc Chart
    Chart Clinic

    Big fan from Brazil.

    Congrats on the new idea. I think I have some sick charts myself.


  15. Jeff weir says:

    I hope you'll suitably pun the name of each post in some kind of overall theme e.g. song titles/band names
    - Talkin' 'bout pie generation (by The Who In Their Right Minds Would Use One)
    - Something got me charted (by Simply Redseries)

  16. Chandoo says:

    @Gerald : Agree.. we have the first post coming up this Friday... so stay tuned.
    @Fespa: thanks, we cant wait to tackle ghosts, zombies, trolls and other such kind...
    @Jeff: that is a huge expectation. My knowledge of western music is almost nil... 😛 but I will take your help...

  17. Jeff weir says:

    This will make your US readers groan:
    Bye bye, miss American Pie-chart (by Don keep-your-charts-Mc-Lean)

  18. [...] 6/12/09, 21 months [JP: he meant 33 months] after I introduced Excel Chart Doctor, Chandoo and Jon Peltier announce that they are adding a Chart Doctor feature to their [...]

  19. [...] We have started 2 new series of posts - Project Management using Excel and slightly controversial Chart Busters [...]

  20. [...] was some controversy when Chandoo and I kicked off our Chart Doctor series. It turns out Kelly O’Day had a “Chart [...]

  21. [...] not really related to above, but I don’t want another post just for this. Jon Peltier and I launched Chart Busters in June last year. It has been a very successful series with lots of bad charts [...]

  22. Santosh Chaube says:

    Use these royalty free names : " Chart 2 Art " ; "Chartmania" ; "Chartsutras"

  23. [...] the chartbusters torch even 8 months after launching the series. (recap: In June 2009, Jon and I started the Chartbusters series to bust ugly charts). In this episode, Jon cures a seriously ailing cumulative spending chart. The [...]

  24. [...] I saw a big screaming ad that said “the chartbuster rules”. Of course, I know that chartbusters rule. Not just because I was one of [...]

  25. matt says:

    does anyone know a website for powerpivot charts and dashbaords that are free.

  26. 5antiago says:

    This comment thread has been a thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end.

    Jeff, I made a joke once about pie charts and American Pie, but you haven't referenced and credited it. My lawyers will be in touch...

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