Winners don't take all: Characterizing the competition for links on the web

David M. Pennock, Gary W. Flake, Steve Lawrence, Eric J. Glover, C. Lee Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

326 Scopus citations


As a whole, the World Wide Web displays a striking "rich get richer" behavior, with a relatively small number of sites receiving a disproportionately large share of hyperlink references and traffic. However, hidden in this skewed global distribution, we discover a qualitatively different and considerably less biased link distribution among subcategories of pages - for example, among all university homepages or all newspaper homepages. Although the connectivity distribution over the entire web is close to a pure power law, we find that the distribution within specific categories is typically unimodal on a log scale, with the location of the mode, and thus the extent of the rich get richer phenomenon, varying across different categories. Similar distributions occur in many other naturally occurring networks, including research paper citations, movie actor collaborations, and United States power grid connections. A simple generative model, incorporating a mixture of preferential and uniform attachment, quantifies the degree to which the rich nodes grow richer, and how new (and poorly connected) nodes can compete. The model accurately accounts for the true connectivity distributions of category-specific web pages, the web as a whole, and other social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5207-5211
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 16 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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