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While this quote comes from the recent Economist survey of wealth and philanthropy from the February 25th, 2006 issue, its applicability to software measurement can't be stressed enough:

"The risk with any metric is that people will come to see it as a description of reality, rather than a tool for a conversation about reality, says Rowena Young of the Skoll Foundation. "One metric or another can function well only when managers know why they are measuring and for whom... In the world of social value-creation, context is king." [11]

Too often software quality metrics seem to be put in place just for the sake of having metrics instead of using them in a beneficial way. As a result people game the system and work towards the metric instead of focusing on quality. If as noted people instead used metrics as a stepping stone to talk about the state of a project and only used metrics that had a clear benefit in such discussions, I think a lot of wasted effort could be eliminated.