Friday, September 26, 2014

How Many of Me??

Happy Friday, readers! This has been one of the busiest weeks I've had in a long time. I want to feature a fun website today. Have you ever wondered how many people in the U.S. have your name? You can search and find out at! You enter your first and last name into their search section and it will check through the U.S. Census for the number of people. 

As you can see above, there's 350 people in the United States with my name! We had fun on our lunch break at work searching everyone's names in the system. The results were actually surprising. Try it for yourself! 

Here is some Q&A info that I pasted from the website:

Q: What does it mean that the estimates are "not absolute"?
The list of names from the census bureau isn't complete. Some names are not included in the census data: for privacy reasons, names with few entries are simply not listed. Our site can only be as good as the data provided.
While we don't have exact data on less common names, we can draw some conclusions. Names left off the census data will be less common than any names included in the census data. How much less common really depends on what was entered. If you entered a real name, it may well be near or somewhat below the number given. If you entered a random string of characters, chances are it's closer to zero than the number given. Other than that, we can't really be much more precise.

Q: What does it mean by "chances are low that someone has this combination of names."?
Even if both names are common enough to make our list, if they are both relatively uncommon names, there may be less than 50% chance* -- sometimes much less than 50% -- that even one person has that name. Since our numbers suggest such a person is unlikely, although possible, we hedge our bets and say that are likely "1 or fewer" individuals with that name.

Q: Does the program really know how many people have the same name as me?
No. The program returns an estimate based on available data. It should be considered a "ballpark figure". It will usually return an answer in the right general area, but the chances of the figure being exactly right are very low.
A full discussion of the accuracy of the program may be found here

Q: Why do you only include the U.S.?
The data we have comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1990 and 2000 censuses. For some reason, they felt it wise to only include data from the United States.

Q: Why don't you use data from a more recent census?
The 1990 census was the last census to include complete name data. The 2000 census didn't include data for first names, and the 2010 census isn't out yet.

Q: Why have the number of people with my name changed?
As part of our constant attempt to keep this site fresh, we've updated our data with recently released last name information from the 2000 Census. In many cases the number of people with a particular name changed fairly significantly. The new data does some very good things for HowManyofMe:
  1. More last names. The number of last names we have (semi) accurate data for has nearly doubled: from 89,000 to 152,000. This means many more people recieve a better answer than our default "fewer than" answer.
  2. More recent. This new data is from the 2000 census, and was released in 2008. It's only one year until the next Census begins, but hey, better late than never!
  3. More precise. The first version of HowManyOfMe was based on some simple data files from the 1990 census. It required a fair amount of massaging and reverse-engineering of the data to get useful information, even then it was fairly rough. This new data includes more information, and is more accurate.
Q: Why don't you add feature X?
Things are pretty busy here. This site should be considered a work in progress. We have a number of features and enhancements we want to add. We've released the site in its current state because the basic underlying features work. We have a nasty perfectionist streak. If we had waited until everything was "perfect" and every feature was done the site would never have been released.
That said, we always like to hear from people who have ideas for making the site better. If you have an idea, let us know.

Q: Do you share user search data / e-mails with third parties?
Our full privacy policy is here.
The short version: "No."
The somewhat longer version: We don't want your personal information. We collect as little as is feasible, keep it as short a time as possible, and other than in the form of statistics based on all searches don't share it with anyone.

Readers, how many people have your name? Were you surprised at the results??

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