Thursday, March 20, 2014

Time Magazine's College Rankings

Time Magazine has launched an interactive feature ranking colleges by the prominence of the Wikipedia pages of their living graduates.   Harvard appears to be the top dog by this measure, just edging past Stony Brook (which again failed to make its way into the NCAA basketball tournament, the event which inspired Time's feature):


Their ranking methodology includes certain Wikipedia variables analogous to what we have used, including length and links in/out of the page -- which serves as a poor man's version of PageRank.  But PageRank is much better for meaningful notions of importance: links into a page only matter if they are from prominent individuals, and links out have little obvious meaning except that it should be correlated strongly with article length.

The other aspect of such an analysis is properly attributing alumni to schools.   The Wikipedia categories give fairly unreliable annotations, although after checking I can confirm that Pat Benatar in fact did attend Stony Brook for a year before dropping out.  I guess we "hit her with our best shot".