I propose a new definition. A site which is designed as the primary Web property for a person, place, or thing is a power site if the person, place, or thing has a Wikipedia entry but, in popular search engines, the site ranks above that Wikipedia entry. There aren’t very many. But they follow simple patterns.

Persons · The search engines are actually pretty good. Very few people have Power Web Sites, except those who are primarily (at least in part) thought of as bloggers. Such as, for example, Paul Graham and, well, me. But not Tim Berners-Lee, Barack Obama, or Roger Federer. I went poking around media and the arts, and did find one rocker with real Web-site power: Bruce Springsteen. This makes me smile for reasons I can’t fully explain.

Places · Toronto has a power site, but none of Chicago, Tokyo, Paris, or Mumbai do.

The pattern here deserves a bit more study.

Things · Secular institutions, whether they are companies, universities, or political parties, tend overwhelmingly to enjoy power sites (I didn’t manage to turn up any counter-examples). Religions, on the other hand, do not.

Famous things are hit and miss. Power sites: Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon, Great Buddha of Kamakura. Lacking power: Great Wall of China, the Kremlin, the Ka’aba, and the Alamo. Things in North America tend to more power; I had to poke around to turn up the Alamo.

It Matters · Having a power site matters: it means that your voice stands out from the crowd, both in the Web in general and of Wikipedians in particular.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Bruce Wayne (Jan 20 2010, at 00:31)

I agree with you. I think that Person,Place and Thing pages needs to exist and that this could lead to applications built on top of this technology.

I have tried to build some of this thinking into factoetum


From: Derek K. Miller (Jan 20 2010, at 01:02)

There ARE many. Many many many. Because most of us aren't in Wikipedia. :)


From: Dave Pawson (Jan 20 2010, at 03:08)

So by your definition mine is a power site!

Just don't search for David Pawson - that spooks me!



From: Mike P (Jan 20 2010, at 06:19)

Such as tbray.org/ongoing perhaps? :)


From: Ed Davies (Jan 20 2010, at 06:39)

Bruce Wayne, something like http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_isPrimaryTopicOf ?


From: Joe (Jan 20 2010, at 07:22)

Well, it's pretty easy if the person/place/thing is obscure enough not to rate a Wikipedia entry... Long Tail?


From: Jonathan Deamer (Jan 20 2010, at 07:51)

One could argue thought that there's nothing "powerful" about a site in the first place if it doesn't warrant a Wikipedia entry in the first place. So this rule only applies to those entities that have both a dedicated site AND a Wikipedia page..?


From: John Cowan (Jan 20 2010, at 08:14)

It seems to me that almost any corporate site is a power site in the above sense: to take a random example (hey, there's a baby in the house), Google returns Kimberly-Clark's site first, the WP article next. "Sun" is kind of a special case, because although the first hit is a WP article, it's about the Sun, not about Sun Microsystems (whose corporate site is the second hit). "Sun Microsystems" does the expected thing.


From: len (Jan 20 2010, at 14:57)

lamammals comes up first for me. I like that much better than something someone else wrote. Since I don't rate a wikipedia entry, I don't have to argue with the other experts about who or what I am or about to be.

Anonymity is freedom to become.

Strictly speaking, if it were mine to choose, I'd rather them find my YouTube channel first. It's more fun. And that is possibly a perk that search engines should offer in profiles: when searched on, go HERE first. I'm not a fan of 'what the web says you are, you are; deal with it'. That means the web is my enemy and warring with the search engines, a martial hobby. :)


From: Avi Bryant (Jan 21 2010, at 01:24)

What does it mean when (as for my name) the top entry is a twitter profile?

But then, I'm not Wikipedia-notable.


From: David Megginson (Jan 21 2010, at 05:15)

Wow! I've never been a power-anything before:


Then again, I'm searching from a Canadian IP, and Google sorts results differently depending on location, so it's a little more complicated than Tim suggests.


From: Kevin H (Jan 21 2010, at 08:01)

Tim - Don't forget that Google pays attention to who you are and where you are from and makes ranking decisions based on that. Chicago *is* a power site where I'm sitting. This might explain the "Things in North America tend to more power" for you, as well.

In a quick sample of 20 off-the-top-of-my-head searches, I actually found a majority to have Power Sites.

Here's my list:


Tim Bray

Sam Ruby

White House

Ford Focus

Fender Stratocaster

Boeing 787


Sydney Australia





Jerry Holkins


Mike Krahulik

Chevy Blazer

Nelson Mandela

Brett Favre

Bill Clinton

Lima peru

Rio de Janeiro

Mona Lisa


From: Don Spaulding (Jan 21 2010, at 08:35)

If I were to put a name on it, I'd play the Springsteen angle and call them "Boss Sites". Boss as an adjective really needs to make a comeback.


From: gvb (Jan 22 2010, at 06:27)

Here is a *really* interesting one: Jonathan Schwartz.


Jonathan Schwartz is a "power web site", but it is not the Jonathan that springs to our geeky minds.


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