The Zap-Index: Are you better or worser at Twitter?

It is a scientificallyistically proven factoid that being better at something than someone else is awesome. It is also a scientificallyistically proven factoid that the best way to show such betterness is via numbers.

Accordingly, the Limited News Department of Twitter Science has invented a new Twitter Metric to show just how much better or worse you are at Twitter than other Twitterati and / or your friends and / or your nemesis.

What’s this new metric you ask? It’s our own version of the ‘H-index’ which is what is used to say how good or shit our scientists are. Here, I’ll talk you through.

The H-index in science says that you have H papers that have been cited H times. A good scientist might have, for example, 20 papers that have been cited at least 20 times – and what do you know, their H index is 20. This is clearly better than another scientist who has a paltry 19 papers cited at least 19 times, so you can laugh in their face at the next International Congress of Ooo Look at Me.

In Twitter we can use retweets (garnered from our friends at favstar.fm) to do the same thing. So H tweets that have been retweeted H times gives that tooter a Twitter H-index. Had three tweets that have been retweeted at least three times each? Your H index is 3! (Science, heh). Also at this point we need a snappy name to differentiate it from the boring sounding H-index, so let’s go with the Zap-Index (Naming stuff after yourself is also scientificallyistically to go)

The advantage of the Zap-Index is that it shows who’s consistently good at the twitters, rather than showing who just has heaps of followers, or one amazing run away tweet (that guy who saw Osama bin Laden getting taken out old school by human soldiers for example), or, heaven forbid, someone who just claims to be really good.

So, introduction and method out of the way, let’s get to the results (Google Docs spreadsheet).


Here are a bunch of people I could be bothered looking up. Are there others you want to look at? (Wow, there are a few high scoring Limited News people here)


For the numbers folk out there, I’ve also thrown in a bit of a qualifier based on how often people tweet. Getting to a Zap-Index of 10 with 10,000 tweets is surely better than 100,000? To do this I’ve divided by Zap-Index by the natural log of the number of tweets. I could justify this but the editors wouldn’t give me any more space. One could also do something with number of followers.
Scientists out there: this is a work in progress. Peer review and suggestions are more than welcome.


Image: Matthias Töpfer

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