By Chris Wilson
May 27, 2014

 

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

George W. Bush

43rd President of the United States

Barack Obama

American politician, 44th President of the United States

Madonna

American singer, actress, author

Beyoncé

American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer

Janet Jackson

American singer-songwriter and actress

Silvio Berlusconi

Italian politician, entrepreneur, and media proprietor

Bob Dylan

American rock and folk musician

Pope Benedict XVI

265th pope

Mitt Romney

American politician

Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, U.S. First Lady

Christina Aguilera

American singer and songwriter

Mariah Carey

American singer

Eminem

Hip Hop rapper

Al Gore

45th Vice President of the United States

Britney Spears

American musician, singer, songwriter, actress, author

Hulk Hogan

American professional wrestler

Roger Federer

Swiss tennis professional

Paul McCartney

English rock musician

Jimmy Carter

President of the United States

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese footballer

David Beckham

Professional footballer

George H. W. Bush

41st president of the United States.

Big Show

Professional wrestler; actor

John McCain

U.S. Senator from Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential nominee

Shaquille O’Neal

Professional basketball player

Vladimir Putin

2nd President of the Russian Federation

Fidel Castro

President of Cuba

John Kerry

U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 2004 presidential nominee for the Democratic Party

Cher

singer, actress, songwriter, author, entertainer

Rafael Nadal

Spanish tennis player

Michael Jordan

Professional National Basketball Association player and businessman

Jeff Gordon

American stock car racing driver

John Cena

Professional wrestler, an amateur hip hop musician and actor

The Undertaker

Professional wrestler

Lady Gaga

American pop singer

Noam Chomsky

linguist, psychologist, and activist

Kane (wrestler)

Professional wrestler and actor

Edward Snowden

System administrator

Tony Blair

Politician; Former Prime minister of the United Kingdom

Steven Spielberg

American film director and producer

Lionel Messi

Argentine footballer

Serena Williams

American multi-champion tennis player

Kobe Bryant

Professional basketball player

Sarah Palin

Governor of Alaska

Clint Eastwood

Actor, director, film producer, composer, politician

Kurt Angle

An American professional wrestler, amateur wrestler, and 1996 Olympic gold medalist

Carrie Underwood

American country music singer; ”American Idol” winner

Jean Chrétien

20th Prime Minister of Canada (1993 – 2003)

Dwayne Johnson

Professional wrestler, film actor

Taylor Swift

Singer and songwriter

LeBron James

American basketball player

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, politician

Dick Cheney

Vice President of the United States

Yulia Tymoshenko

Ukrainian politician

CM Punk

Professional wrestler

Bret Hart

Retired Professional Wrestler

David Cameron

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Marine Le Pen

French politician

Eric Clapton

guitarist, singer, and composer

Novak Djokovic

Serbian tennis player

Joe Biden

Vice President of the United States

Jennifer Lopez

Entertainer

Peyton Manning

American college football player, professional football player, quarterback, Super Bowl champion

Nicole Scherzinger

American singer, dancer

Rihanna

Singer, songwriter

Shakira

Colombian singer

Sachin Tendulkar

Indian cricketer

Ron Paul

U.S. libertarian, physician, politician, obstetrician

Pope Francis

266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church

Chris Jericho

Professional wrestler, musician, television host and author

Maria Sharapova

Russian tennis player

Edge (wrestler)

Professional wrestler

Thierry Henry

Footballer

MC Hammer

Rapper, entrepreneur, actor

Kelly Clarkson

Singer-songwriter, actress

Michael Schumacher

Racing driver, Formula 1 driver, 7 times world champion

Yoko Ono

Artist

Donald Trump

Businessman, television personality

Elton John

English musician

Rey Mysterio

Mexican American Professional wrestler

Elizabeth II

Queen regnant of the Commonwealth realms

Rob Van Dam

American film actor and professional wrestler

Magic Johnson

Retired American professional basketball player

Pink (singer)

Singer

Triple H

Professional wrestler

Kylie Minogue

pop singer, songwriter, actress

Kanye West

American recording artist, record producer

Andy Murray

Tennis player

Celine Dion

Canadian singer and actor

50 Cent

Rapper, entrepreneur, investor, and actor

Derek Jeter

American professional baseball player, shortstop

Paris Hilton

American celebrity

Ric Flair

Professional wrestler

Oprah Winfrey

Talk show host

Michele Bachmann

American politician

Diego Maradona

Argentine footballer and manager

Nawaz Sharif

Pakistani politician

Shahrukh Khan

Film actor

Lance Armstrong

American professional road racing cyclist

 

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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