06 May 2012

A Chess Popularity Contest

Are you looking for a chess topic to write about, but are stuck for an idea? Before you give up completely, take a look at Wikipedia's WikiProject Chess/Popular pages, with statistics on page views for Wikipedia's numerous chess pages.

The current version lists stats from March 2012 on 1500 pages, including 'Views per day', 'Assessment', and 'Importance'. Three of the top five pages are only tangentially related to chess (e.g. no.1 'Benjamin Franklin'), as reflected in their 'Importance = Bottom' (speaking chessically I assume). The first of the real chess pages is the topic 'chess' itself (>5000 views per day), followed by 'Bobby Fischer' (>2600) and the 'Elo rating system' (>1800).

Curious about the data, I scraped the page and dumped the results into a database. My first query was a look at 'Assessment' and 'Importance'. The 'Assessment' field shows seven different values: FA (4), GA (14), B (72), C (217), Start (774), Stub (379), & List (40); the number in parentheses is a count of how often the value appeared on the page.

The value 'FA' means featured content and applies to four pages: 'Chess', 'The Turk', 'First-move advantage in chess', & 'George H. D. Gossip'. What's Featured content?

Represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer. These are the articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase the polished result of the collaborative efforts that drive Wikipedia. All featured content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards and can serve as the best example of our end goals. A small bronze star in the top right corner of a page indicates that the content is featured.

The featured content Gossip page received an average 16 views per day, about what you would expect for a page marked 'Low Importance'. The 'Importance' field shows five different values: Top (50), High (163), Mid (512), Low (717), & Bottom (58). Somewhat curiously, Fischer, Kasparov, and Anand, three of the four world class players falling in the top-15 pages by views are all ranked 'Top Importance', while Carlsen, the fourth player, is only rated 'High' despite his world no.1 ranking. How often is 'Importance' updated? Not too often, it would appear.

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