s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Superhero Metrics, Part II: A New Approach

Monday, June 27, 2011

Superhero Metrics, Part II: A New Approach

Permit me, then, to introduce to you the Wikipedia Inter-language Metric of Cultural Significance (WIMCS)*.

The premise behind the WIMCS is simple: If a person, place, thing, etc., is highly culturally significant, it will not only appear in the English Language Wikipedia (which is the largest Wikipedia, by far), it will also appear in the Wikipedias of many other languages.

So, in order to calculate the WIMCS for a given entity, go to its Wikipedia page, open the “Languages” menu on the left side of the page, and simply count the number of languages listed.

Here’s some WIMCS data from the previously mentioned topic of conversation:

61 – Batman
57 – Spider-Man, Superman
37 – Wolverine
36 – X-Men
31 - The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Iron Man
28 - Captain America
25 – The Joker
24 – Lex Luthor
23 - Flash, Wonder Woman
22 – Green Lantern
19 - Aquaman
18 - Jean Grey, Robin, Thor
17 – Hellboy, Professor X
9 - Hawkman

This data confirms that Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man are the top three superheroes (as expected), and suggests that Wolverine comes in at number four (at least, of the superheroes I’ve thought to check), which seems plausible.

In part III, I'll examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

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*I’m not married to this name or to the acronym representing it. Other, catchier suggestions are highly welcome.

4 Comments:

At June 28, 2011 12:12 AM, Blogger Mr. Fob said...

That's an interesting approach. Definitely gets at the idea of worldwide cultural significance in terms of answering the question "In how many countries is this character known?" but I wonder how well that corresponds with the question "How many people in the world know this character?"

 
At June 28, 2011 2:52 AM, Blogger Th. said...

.

Superhero 45 (less than the top three individuals!)

Daredevil 24
Green Arrow 22
Thor 19 (the other Thor is 65)
Captain Marvel 17
Plastic Man 11

King Kong 33
Godzilla 27

 
At June 28, 2011 8:45 AM, Blogger Katya said...

I wonder how well that corresponds with the question "How many people in the world know this character?"

I don't know. I think the initial question that my brother and I had was ill-defined and I thought of this approach without really pinning down what we were asking. So, I'm confident that this approach is measuring something and I think it's something related to what he and I were originally talking about, but I agree that it's not the same thing as measuring the number of people in the world who can name a superhero based on a picture or who recognize the name of a superhero.

 
At June 28, 2011 8:49 AM, Blogger Katya said...

Superhero 45 (less than the top three individuals!)

This doesn't necessarily surprise me, because I think it's a concept that was defined after individual superheroes started to become popular, which makes it more secondary. Compare that with the Wikipedia page for "snake," which I'd expect to be more popular than the pages for any individual species of snake.

 

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