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Sep
25

Names and Birth States Found Frequently in Wikipedia

Oprah Winfrey, a successful person with an uncommon name.
Oprah Winfrey, a successful person with an uncommon name.
Bill Gates , Microsoft founder and philanthropist. Born as William Gates, but everyone calls him Bill.

Bill Gates , Microsoft founder and philanthropist.  Real name is William Gates, but commonly called Bill.

What makes a person successful? As parents, we try to make the best choices to help our children become successful and happy.

One of the first things that we decide on when having a baby is the child’s name. Another choice is where to live. Are these relevant in determining a child’s future success?

Wikipedia is full of successful people. I looked at the characteristics of people in Wikipedia to see if they are any different from the average population.

I looked to see if certain names and birthplaces occur in Wikipedia more often than expected . Click here for more details on the analysis.

Analysis on Names in Wikipedia

  • Rare names are enriched in Wikipedia. Names that are less than 1% frequent in the population are 2x more likely to appear in Wikipedia, regardless of gender.
  • If born with a common name, you’re more likely to appear in Wikipedia if you use a nickname rather than the formal name given at birth. For example, Michael appears in Wikipedia 42% less than expected, but its corresponding nickname “Mike” appears 9.7x more frequently than expected in Wikipedia.
  • Visualize names here

    Analysis of Birth States in Wikipedia

  • More entertainers/artists are born in California and New York (~2-fold enrichment)
  • More athletes are born in the Southern states (~1.5-fold enrichment)
  • Visualize all states here

    Download the source code:

    Code for analyzing Wikipedia biographies