P2P Studies Make People Stupid

Yesterday, ZDNet UK reported on a study of P2P traffic. CacheLogic monitored P2P traffic on Internet backbones and found that 61.44 percent of P2P packet traffic was video files, 11.34 percent was audio files, and 27.22 percent was other traffic. On the audio side, a surprisingly large 12.3 percent of all P2P traffic was for files in the Ogg Vorbis format.

Unfortunately, many outlets seem unable to report the results of this study accurately.

It wasn’t surprising to see Slashdot screw it up. The headline on the Slashdot post falsely claims, “Ogg Vorbis Share Reaches 12.3% on P2P Traffic.” In fact, Ogg Vorbis share of P2P traffic is 12.3 percent of the 11.34 percent of traffic that is audio traffic. Or, in Slashdot’s way of summarizing the study, just under 1.4 percent of P2P traffic is Ogg Vorbis files.

But it was not just Slashdot. The BBC also misreported the findings of the study. The BBC claims,

Almost two-thirds of digital files being swapped on file-sharing networks is video, according to P2P traffic analysts CacheLogic.

But that’s not what the study said at all. Since video files are so much larger than audio files, even the two-thirds difference means that there are almost certainly far more audio files being swapped through P2P than video files.

The BBC simply treats traffic as synonymous with files when it erroneously claims that,

Video made up 61.4% of files on the four peer-to-peer networks. BitTorrent had the highest proportion of video traffic at 47%. Just over 42% of files on it were categorised as “other”.


File-sharers swap more than video. The BBC, August 11, 2005.

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