The top fifty

November 7, 2018

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Test Your Culture ranks the top 10,000 cultural Wikipedia articles in the English language, based on page traffic over the past 5 years.

A common question we’ve gotten is, what are the top items? (Especially since the quiz never displays them all at once, and doesn't necessarily show them in order of popularity either.)

So without further ado, here are the top 50 items, together with their current* relative popularities (and additional commentary below).

* List generated from live data, so even though this blog post is dated November 2018, the list is currently based on Wikipedia traffic from October 2014 through September 2019 inclusive.

What’s interesting about this list? (current as of November 2018)

  • Game of Thrones isn’t just the top TV show — it’s the top cultural work period (and the second cultural item overall, after only Donald Trump). Its vast and rich fictional universe truly must have something for everyone, given such widespread appeal.
  • Eminem is top musical artist, only narrowing beating out Ariana Grande. But number three? Still the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. (Does that make Ariana the queen? Or is that forever Beyoncé?)
  • The power of STEM: Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein are all in the top 20. With Elon ranked slightly higher than Jobs, does this make Tesla the new Apple?
  • Historical U.S. presidents: although it’s neck-in-neck, Abraham Lincoln beats out John F. Kennedy... with no George Washington to be seen.
  • Who’s top writer? Though he died more than 400 years ago, it’s still the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Some stories never grow old.
  • And in the world of sports? It’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese footballer (soccer player). Despite English-language Wikipedia page traffic being majority-U.S., his intense global appeal brings him all the way to the top. After him comes Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, and only in third place do we come to another sport — superstar basketball player LeBron James.

But most interesting is how the list brings together people and things from so many different areas — politics and television, music and business, science and sports. Popular culture reflects so many different facets of humanity, and reminds us of just how diverse we are.

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