The wisdom of the twitter crowds

After years of putting it off, yesterday I finally rounded up all the change we leave around the house in jars by doors where we drop our keys as well as the inch of change in the center console of my truck that have all been collecting for years. It filled a canvas shopping bag about 1/4 full and weighed 21.1lbs total.

I was curious what random people on Twitter thought, so I posted a tweet asking people to guess, along with a photo.

I got about 200 guesses and if you look at the distribution, there are a couple interesting things to note.

The guesses seem randomized, but the cluster around $250 are the guesses of a highly educated crowd that googled how much a pound of change weighs, which is around $12, so 21lbs puts you right around $252. I said I noticed a lot of quarters and I think people slid it upwards to $275. There’s of course a bump around $420 because it’s fun to joke about (on the other hand, 21lbs of pure quarters is about $425).

Even with google, the distribution is pretty nice and aside from the weird cluster around $700, it’s mostly a clean bell curve. My favorite guesses took the average price of a pound of change with some quick distribution of coins based on my photo, like this guesser’s chart.

The final result at my bank’s coin machine (they don’t skim any off you like coinstar) was $244.93. Hilariously, the two closest guesses out of the 200 were both my coworkers at Slack (I never mentioned this tweet at work, they both randomly found it). Brook Shelley won, but Lynn Wu was closest at only $1.07 away, but she was over and Bob Barker rules, so Brook won.

Anyway, it was a good bit of fun and I’m impressed how close people were to the mark. If you want to play with the data, here’s a quick spreadsheet you can make a copy of and if you were wondering I made the frequency distribution grouping in $25 increments with a simple use of the FUNCTION(range,classes) operator in Google Sheets.