Sunday, October 03, 2010

How to confuse readers

Check the parts marked in red.

My last post already indicated how confusing t-online articles are. Here is yet another example. "Will Porsche return to formula (which formula anyway?) after 19 years?". Good question. Then the bold text starts, and all of a sudden, Porsche might return 51 years after their last race... huh?
Okay... what about the picture...hmm... "On 5 August 1984, Alain Prost passes the chequered flag first". 1984? That is 26 years ago, neither 51 nor 19. Alright. So how do all these confusing events fit together?

To understand this, you either have to be a formula one expert, or you have to spend the next 1 and a half hours reading up on formula one. I have the advantage of knowing formula one well enough, so let me give you the information.

1. Yes, Porsche was active deep into the 1960s with a works team. That means that Porsche did both the manufacturing and the engine part. The cars and engines were Porsche. So yes, that was their last race back then... but not as an engine maker.
2. In the 1980s, they came back and supplied formula one teams with their engines. Most successfully, they did that with the McLaren team. So this time, they were not the team, only the ones who produced the engine (I will spare you the complicated details of why it was called "McLaren TAG Porsche" though). When the dominance of the Porsche decreased and the McLaren-Porsche alliance ended, Porsche provided the Arrows team with engines with very little success until the early 90s.
3. The picture of the 1984 victory was one of many victories. Since it was a victory in August that year, I suppose it was not even the first victory that year.

Okay... so why is all of this confusion necessary? Throwing around numbers is not very impressive when the "1" in "formula 1" is missing in the headline.
Is the mentioning of numbers supposed to evoke emotions of any kind? Well, if you want it to sound epic, stick to one large number, either the total number of race victories by engine, or the 51 years because it sounds so long ago, but just stick to one thing. You can still mention the other facts one by one, one at a time, but please, keep the numbers to yourselves if it only confuses people...