TIME

The 100 Most Obsessed-Over People on the Web

George W. Bush is more popular than Obama, Beyonce beats the Pope--and the mysterious clout of professional wrestlers. The ultimate online power list. Plus see how 20,000 of the world's best known people stack up

 

Every April, TIME publishes a list of the 100 most influential people in the world, drawing on a year’s worth of headlines and the editorial judgment of editors from across the magazine. It’s an unapologetically subjective undertaking; there are no batting averages or on-base percentages when it comes to a slippery subject like influence.

I don’t have much to do with this list, but from the sidelines I got to wondering whether there was a quantitative way to produce something similar. Wikipedia was a logical place to start since it has both unprecedented breadth–there are over 600,000 living people on the site–and a remarkably consistent structure for each entry.

Based upon my research, here are the 100 most obsessed-over people on the web.

 

NAME SCORE
1.
George W. Bush
43rd President of the United States
65.6
2.
Barack Obama
American politician, 44th President of the United States
45.3
3.
Madonna
American singer, actress, author
37.63
4.
Beyoncé
American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer
36.73
5.
Janet Jackson
American singer-songwriter and actress
36.37
6.
Silvio Berlusconi
Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor
35.53
7.
Bob Dylan
American rock and folk musician
34.46
8.
Pope Benedict XVI
265th pope
34.02
9.
Mitt Romney
American politician
33.87
10.
Bill Clinton
42nd President of the United States.
33.64
11.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, U.S. First Lady
33.34
12.
Christina Aguilera
American singer and songwriter
33.13
13.
Mariah Carey
American singer
32.6
14.
Eminem
Hip Hop rapper
32.18
15.
Al Gore
45th Vice President of the United States
32.02
16.
Britney Spears
American musician, singer, songwriter, actress, author
31.71
17.
Hulk Hogan
American professional wrestler
31.64
18.
Roger Federer
Swiss tennis professional
30.32
19.
Paul McCartney
English rock musician
30.26
20.
Jimmy Carter
President of the United States
29.8
21.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portuguese footballer
29.49
22.
David Beckham
Professional footballer
29.21
23.
George H. W. Bush
41st president of the United States.
29.17
24.
Big Show
Professional wrestler; actor
28.86
25.
John McCain
U.S. Senator from Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential nominee
28.8
26.
Shaquille O’Neal
Professional basketball player
28.78
27.
Vladimir Putin
2nd President of the Russian Federation
28.74
28.
Fidel Castro
President of Cuba
28.7
29.
John Kerry
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 2004 presidential nominee for the Democratic Party
28.5
30.
Cher
singer, actress, songwriter, author, entertainer
28.27
31.
Rafael Nadal
Spanish tennis player
28.18
32.
Michael Jordan
Professional National Basketball Association player and businessman
27.87
33.
Jeff Gordon
American stock car racing driver
27.56
34.
John Cena
Professional wrestler, an amateur hip hop musician and actor
27.4
35.
The Undertaker
Professional wrestler
27.4
36.
Lady Gaga
American pop singer
27.27
37.
Noam Chomsky
linguist, psychologist, and activist
27.13
38.
Kane (wrestler)
Professional wrestler and actor
27.03
39.
Edward Snowden
System administrator
26.83
40.
Tony Blair
Politician; Former Prime minister of the United Kingdom
26.75
41.
Steven Spielberg
American film director and producer
26.75
42.
Lionel Messi
Argentine footballer
26.72
43.
Serena Williams
American multi-champion tennis player
26.68
44.
Kobe Bryant
Professional basketball player
26.6
45.
Sarah Palin
Governor of Alaska
26.46
46.
Clint Eastwood
Actor, director, film producer, composer, politician
26.36
47.
Kurt Angle
An American professional wrestler, amateur wrestler, and 1996 Olympic gold medalist
26.16
48.
Carrie Underwood
American country music singer; ”American Idol” winner
26.1
49.
Jean Chrétien
20th Prime Minister of Canada (1993 – 2003)
25.84
50.
Dwayne Johnson
Professional wrestler, film actor
25.68
51.
Taylor Swift
Singer and songwriter
25.59
52.
LeBron James
American basketball player
25.53
53.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, politician
25.51
54.
Dick Cheney
Vice President of the United States
25.5
55.
Yulia Tymoshenko
Ukrainian politician
25.37
56.
CM Punk
Professional wrestler
24.97
57.
Bret Hart
Retired Professional Wrestler
24.84
58.
David Cameron
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
24.83
59.
Marine Le Pen
French politician
24.72
60.
Eric Clapton
guitarist, singer, and composer
24.66
61.
Novak Djokovic
Serbian tennis player
24.55
62.
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
24.3
63.
Jennifer Lopez
Entertainer
24.29
64.
Peyton Manning
American college football player, professional football player, quarterback, Super Bowl champion
24.19
65.
Nicole Scherzinger
American singer, dancer
24.15
66.
Rihanna
Singer, songwriter
24.13
67.
Shakira
Colombian singer
24.03
68.
Sachin Tendulkar
Indian cricketer
23.98
69.
Ron Paul
U.S. libertarian, physician, politician, obstetrician
23.95
70.
Pope Francis
266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
23.94
71.
Chris Jericho
Professional wrestler, musician, television host and author
23.93
72.
Maria Sharapova
Russian tennis player
23.86
73.
Edge (wrestler)
Professional wrestler
23.78
74.
Thierry Henry
Footballer
23.43
75.
MC Hammer
Rapper, entrepreneur, actor
23.34
76.
Kelly Clarkson
Singer-songwriter, actress
23.32
77.
Michael Schumacher
Racing driver, Formula 1 driver, 7 times world champion
23.25
78.
Yoko Ono
Artist
23.11
79.
Donald Trump
Businessman, television personality
23.02
80.
Elton John
English musician
23.01
81.
Rey Mysterio
Mexican American Professional wrestler
23
82.
Elizabeth II
Queen regnant of the Commonwealth realms
22.99
83.
Rob Van Dam
American film actor and professional wrestler
22.99
84.
Magic Johnson
Retired American professional basketball player
22.95
85.
Pink (singer)
Singer
22.92
86.
Triple H
Professional wrestler
22.81
87.
Kylie Minogue
pop singer, songwriter, actress
22.81
88.
Kanye West
American recording artist, record producer
22.8
89.
Andy Murray
Tennis player
22.78
90.
Celine Dion
Canadian singer and actor
22.76
91.
50 Cent
Rapper, entrepreneur, investor, and actor
22.74
92.
Derek Jeter
American professional baseball player, shortstop
22.67
93.
Paris Hilton
American celebrity
22.61
94.
Ric Flair
Professional wrestler
22.56
95.
Oprah Winfrey
Talk show host
22.53
96.
Michele Bachmann
American politician
22.23
97.
Diego Maradona
Argentine footballer and manager
22.19
98.
Nawaz Sharif
Pakistani politician
22.08
99.
Shahrukh Khan
Film actor
22.07
100.
Lance Armstrong
American professional road racing cyclist
22.06

 

Methodology

To begin with, I collected some data on each of these pages: The number of words, the number of times it has been edited, and a handful of other measurements. A very simple algorithm combines these factors into a single estimate of the page’s “prominence,” an imperfect term for how important a person is on the site.

I gathered eight statistics for each living person’s Wikipedia page:

  • Number of words
  • Number of links to other Wikipedia pages
  • Number of external links (which are typically references)
  • Number of categories the person is in
  • Total number of revisions to the page
  • Number of unique individuals who have edited the page as a signed-in editors
  • Number of anonymous edits
  • Number of vandalisms, as identified in editing notes

Once this data was in place, I used a statistical method known as “principal component analysis” to reduce these values into a smaller set of scores. The full methodology, as well as the raw data for the top 100,000-or-so pages, is available on the GitHub page for this project. The code for crawling Wikipedia is also provided open-source in a separate GitHub repository.

One of the most curious findings is that professional wrestlers have amazingly detailed Wikipedia pages that often surpass heads of state in their breadth and detail. There are 15 current or former wrestlers in the top 100 people on this list.

Many thanks to Chris Franck, an assistant research professor in statistics at Virginia Tech, for his consultation during this analysis.

 

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