Provide a GUI option in the installer to enable popcon

John McCabe-Dansted gmatht at
Wed Jun 24 17:00:59 UTC 2009

2009/6/25 Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt at>:
>> If just 1% of Ubuntu users tick the box, that gives us enough data to
>> improve Ubuntu by justifying our decisions with evidence.
> The absolute size of a sample is more important, statistically, than its
> relative size. In other words, 1136581 popcon submissions is a large
> enough sample regardless of how many Ubuntu users there are in total.
> What is more important now is reducing bias -- bias towards current
> users against potential users, towards users who fiddle with settings
> against users who don't, and so on.

What if the install program randomly invited 1% of users to join popcon?

Something like:

"We want to make sure that Ubuntu suits your purposes. To do this it
would help us to know what software you use. Do you agree to
automatically provide this information to Ubuntu?

We will not store personally-identifying information as we only use
this information to determine the popularity of different software
packages supported by Ubuntu. Only 1% of users are invited to this

The obvious disadvantage would be that it introduces non-determinism
into the mix, which may mess up some forms of scripting and users that
insist on following step by step instructions exactly.

The obvious advantage is that it gives us sample as unbiased as
possible without mandatory popcon, while still adding only 0.01
mouse-clicks to the average install. Perhaps the submissions to popcon
that come from the specifically invited people could be marked as such
so that we could keep the relatively unbiased sample pure, and compare
it to the sample of people who actively hunted popcon down.

John C. McCabe-Dansted
PhD Student
University of Western Australia

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