Checking their math

by Andy Boyle.

Daily Nebraskan reporter Adam Ziegler looked into the suspicious nature in which Microsoft was chosen to be UNL’s primary student e-mail service: link here

While helping him edit the story, I wanted to double check some of the facts a source stated. Susan Poser had said more than twice as many students used Hotmail than Google.

Most importantly, more than twice as many students use Microsoft’s Hotmail service instead of Google’s Gmail for their primary e-mail, and many students use Microsoft software every day, Poser said.

Well, it’s nice to take her word, but perhaps there’s a way to double-check what she said?

Around 11:30 p.m. Sunday (after the major editing was done and I was back in my apartment watching baseball), I remembered I had received from a source a directory of 22,000 students from the 2008-07 year, including their e-mails.

I used the Text to columns function for the e-mails field, using “@” as the delimiter. That created two columns, one with the people’s e-mails, and then one with their domains. I then sorted them and counted how many were in each:

According to a Daily Nebraskan analysis of student registry data, 24 percent of students list Hotmail as their e-mail account. Yahoo has 14 percent of the e-mails, and Bigred has the most, with 30 percent.

Gmail has 9 percent of student e-mails, according to the analysis.

It’s not rocket science and it’s nothing huge, but it does help to prove that we’re double-checking what our sources are telling us and keeping our watchdog function high.