Ashley Madison: doing everything but the numbers, apparently

So, a few days back, it came to light that a public-spirited group of extortionists had hacked a website catering to marital infidelity with a brand name much like, ummm, Mashley Addleson. They kindly offered not to release the names of everybody signed up to the site in exchange for a whack of cash.

The web, predictably, went Twitteristic.

In a similarly public-spirited vein, I gather that Mashley Addleson has since contacted individual users with offers to do a "full delete" that would vacuum out all trace of an account. For smaller, individual whacks of cash.

Terrific philanthropists, all of 'em...

And as ummm, investigative journalists everywhere started delving deeper into this event, it also arose that the site was claiming some 200,000 subscribers in Ottawa, or one in five residents. According to one Brit rag possessed of ethics nearly as dubious as Mashley's, that figure would make this sleepy burg the world's "love rat capital".

After pondering on that for longer than I shoulda, I looked up 2011 Statistics Canada census figures for the Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area.

So I obviously have waaay too much time on my paws, but this whole story really does beg the question: why the hell hasn't anybody in the media bothered to do this? ** It was like, 20 minutes' work, even allowing for the fact that paws and keyboards do not play well together. Easy story! Just, maybe, not a sexy story. Since a CMA isn't just the city whose name it takes -- a CMA extends beyond city boundaries proper -- I figured that the cachement area would roughly cover people in surrounding small towns who might craftily list their residence as "Ottawa". Because that's just the kind of convenient little cover story that the thinking cheater might figure would reduce their chances of being identified and outed in a smaller place.

Say, "Russell Township" or "Ashton Station" or something. Small towns bein' what they are, everybody in one likely has thoughts about which of the neighbours might be foolin' around, but no sense in giving 'em outright confirmation, right?

Now, as an ancient coyote whose eyes are now nearly as fuzzy as his ass, I am certainly open to the possibility that I'm misreading a government statistical agency table. I am therefore open to correction. *

Since the current government screwed over the reliability of the official census some time back, the government statistical agency is also open to correction. But I digress. Where the hell was I? Oh, yeah. So, anyway, what I think I'm seeing is a total of 411,110 people who are married/common-law in this CMA.

Which means that according Mashley Addleson, on average close to 1 in every 2 married persons in Ottawa CMA is steppin' out. Doin' the dirty. Bonkin' outta wedlock. Which seems, you know, a touch... flagrant. If not downright delicto.

Of course, there are other takes on the situation. When I confided my doubts to the Independent Observer (remember him...? We still talk.) he, being of a practical frame of mind, just waved his hand and said, "Should we trust the statistics of a company that encourages cheating...?"

Oh yeah. Right. Nevermind...

*... So it turns out, inevitably, that after that pretty little sketch of Census Metropolitan Areas, someone with a far more obsessive eye for detail than I has pointed out that I did not in fact use CMA figures, or link to them. The numbers are for Ottawa, the city proper.

But it also transpires, happily, that the fragrant flagrance of that one-in-two ratio holds. So there's that.

Figures. Us coyotes are not built for trapping errors. In my defence I will say that we are exquisitely tuned to catch small rodents, partridges, grouse and your cat. On the fly! But owls? Don't get me started on owls. Them things is fiends...

** Although, to the eventual satirical credit of the Last Week Tonight research team, John Oliver finally did...


4th Dwarf said...

Excellent research, Coyote.

I've heard speculation that some of the Ashley Mads are couples looking to find others to join them for frolics.

If so, it could be argued there is no cheating going on with them.

And if so, there may be single people with accounts on the site to join these frolicsome couples. In which case, they would not necessarily be cheating on anyone.

So it could be that a substantial portion of the 200,000 account holders are a) not cheaters, and b) not in supposedly monogamous couples.

Perhaps we should ask some of the old poly-amorous friends of the ESIs if they have concerns about the Ashley-Mad hack.

coyote said...

Polly Amory! I'd forgotten about her. Any relation to Cleveland?