sqbr: Asterix-like magnifying glass over Perth, Western Australia (australia 2)
Sophie ([personal profile] sqbr) wrote2016-08-09 09:46 pm

Census Fail 2016

Since there's been interesting discussion on twitter and Facebook but I haven't seen much elsewhere.

So. Tonight is the Australian Census. There has been major controversy since it was announced that the government would be keeping people's names and addresses attached to the data for years, if not indefinitely. Many people said they would boycott or at least not put down their names. This was complicated by the fact that there is a $180 a day fine for anyone who refuses to do it, and that it is illegal to encourage people to not do it. People found round about ways to advise people anyway (This comic is also cute)

Then it turned out that the census questions were massively rigid and exclusionary, eg the only gender or sex choice is "male or female". That's ok, says the ABS website! Just request a paper form, draw your own box, and fill in the right gender!

I only got around to requesting a paper form today, eg too late to fill in the form on census night. I was worried I wouldn't be able to, but the automated system was quick and easy. My friends online who requested one over a week ago haven't gotten theirs yet anyway, so there goes that worry!

Everyone else is supposed to use the online form. It was made very clear we all should do it on census night.

So people did. All at once.

And it fell over. It has been down for hours. It's nearly midnight on the east coast, where the bulk of the population lives, and only one million of our 20 million citizens have gotten through (but it's fine says the Prime Minister. The man personally responsible for our terrible internet...)

People have looked at the source code and apparently the setup makes it impossible to increase load capacity. They just have to wait for demand to drop. From 19 million people all afraid of those $180 a day fines...

They were ready for a million submissions an hour but only expecting 500,000. Because it's not like the, say, 7.5 million residents of New South Wales would all be trying to log in at around the same time or anything. No, we would all wait in an orderly queue to spread things out over the day. Apparently.

Also: it's hosted on an internationally distributed server to bring down load by sending people to whichever node is nearest to them. GUESS HOW MANY NODES THIS SYSTEM HAS IN AUSTRALIA.

Oh well. At least we probably won't all get fined.
shehasathree: (Default)

[personal profile] shehasathree 2016-08-09 02:45 pm (UTC)(link)
If they wanted us to do it at all different times of day they shouldn't have kept referring to "census night". >:(

*grumpy person who actually said, "oh no, it's okay, i'll do it online since that's what you're supposed to do and it'll probably be quicker anyway" sometime in the last week (like a fool) and spent more than four hours periodically trying to get the bloody census to load before giving up*
moonvoice: (Default)

[personal profile] moonvoice 2016-08-09 04:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeaahhhh this has all been a bit of a debacle, hasn't it? D: I'm glad I requested the paper form. And the fines are extortionate. Don't vote? Monetary slap on the wrist (by comparison, I get that any fine can hit some people too hard to mention), don't want to do a survey that's *phobic? $180 a day per day until compliance is achieved (or $1800 is attained, whichever comes first). Gah.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2016-08-09 06:43 pm (UTC)(link)
MASSIVE FAIL. On so many levels, from the moral right down to the technical. Sigh. Probably deserved to implode, which is a shame because data is often useful and people should have the opportunity for their demographic data to help USEFULLY shape relevant government policy.

The U.S. Census has issues too, and I say this as a former census worker. But this reminds me more of the intended state-run health care exchanges mess, actually.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2016-08-11 03:42 am (UTC)(link)
wendelah1: (Default)

[personal profile] wendelah1 2016-08-09 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)
That's wild. Fines? $180?! A day!

And using the internet, too. Wow. They still use the postal system here and actual live workers to go around collecting data on people without addresses.

People here use old census data for genealogy. I don't know how long they keep it for. Forever, probably.
velithya: (Default)

[personal profile] velithya 2016-08-09 10:36 pm (UTC)(link)
So glad we also requested a paper census, although we're still waiting on it to arrive.
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2016-08-10 01:44 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I looked at them cheerfully telling us "Don't worry, we can handle a million at a time!" and thought yeah, how many people in Australia? So I did mine in my break at work and had no problems, but that's not an option for most people, especially when they emphasised so strongly that it was all about who was in your home on Census Night!