Saturday, February 21, 2009 on the definition of a user - techcrunch wtf moment

In short, Quicken sent Mint a pretty lame "WTF is up with your user count?" email.

The story could be over, but then there was a bit of prodding into how a Mint determines a 'user.'

Aside from Mint’s remarkable growth rate, Intuit’s concerns focus on the startup’s definition of “users”. Mint’s reply states that the company considers anyone who has filled in an Email address, Zip code, and password to be a “user”, regardless of whether they’ve ever actually linked their bank account to their Mint user name. This figure obviously overstates the number of people who actually use Mint on a day-to-day basis, but it’s also a fairly standard way to define “users” for most web services. As an outside check, Comscore counts 416,000 monthly unique visitors worldwide, and growing rapidly (see chart below).

This definition "raised some concerns" for TechCrunch.

Is this really standard practice for web services? (Really, I'm curious - lemme know).

In what world is a "user" someone who creates an account and never uses the site again? At the most basic semantic level, they're not even using the site.

Aaron, you've clearly got a successful startup and the established competition is obviously feeling threatened, so why not just omit those non-users from the user numbers you're reporting? Who is impressed by traffic that has visited a website, signed up, and never returned?