Shakespeare’s Standard Deviation (or, How Old You Are)

This weekend my dad challenged me with a question about Twitter. He asked how old the people are who follow a discussion of Shakespeare, with the implicit assumption that it is an older crowd.

So I did what I’ve been doing lately, to demonstrate the value of Twitter – I asked (on Facebook as well).

89 of you wrote back over the weekend, which is a reasonable number to do some statistics.  [ For the record, I *think* that Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust follows me, but he did not check in with his age.  Knowing his age (it is public record) I know that it would skew my results higher, but I can’t include somebody’s information without their consent, so he’s not included in these findings.  I can’t just pick out one number because I happen to know it, that would skew my random sample. ]


With a minimum reported age of 16 and a max of 55, the average age of Shakespeare Geek followers is …. 30 and a half.  *trumpet blare* 

The standard deviation is 10.4.  If I remember my statistics correctly, that means that 68% of the audience falls within plus or minus a standard deviation from the average – so, 2/3rds of you are basically between 20 and 40.

Now let’s have some fun with the Facebook crowd, since I can separate them out.  25 of those 89 results came from Facebook.  Looking specifically at Facebook we have a range of 19 to 48, averaging just shy of 35 (stddev of 9.5, so the range of ages is similar – but a few years older).

So if we take the FB numbers out, that leaves Twitter specifically with a range of 16 – 55 still, but the average age actually drops to 29. 

I find the results interesting, and not just because it suggests that Facebook, once the realm of the college-only crowd, is starting to look a bit old, while Twitter comes up strong from behind.

What this continues to tell us is that Shakespeare remains appealing to a wide array of people.  How often do you get a 16yr old engaged in conversation with a 55yr old?  Not too often!  But obviously something’s got them all coming to this common ground.  I love it.

6 thoughts on “Shakespeare’s Standard Deviation (or, How Old You Are)

  1. I'm really sorry I missed this question over the weekend (and I'm wondering if the readers of the blog who are not in the Venn Diagram circles of those who also follow you on Twitter and are members of Facebook would produce a different number altogether).

    Since you asked, I'm thirteen.

    Yes, I'm quite the prodigy.


  2. What's interesting is that I could use this post to address the blog-only people and ask "How old are you?" But, having reported on the numbers, people will now have that knowledge of whether they are skewing the average up or down, and this would alter who chooses to respond.

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