The Neighbourhoods of #cdnpoli

This Samara Democracy Report looks at how Canadian politics is discussed on social media, specifically the Twitter platform. We collected 133,147 tweets tagged with #cdnpoli from last fall. We pulled out the 100 most often mentioned users. Though more than 22000 people used that hashtag, these 100 people were mentioned in 46% of all tweets. These influencers run across party lines--some are news outlets, some are journalists, while others are individuals, MPs or Occupy groups. 

(Click on the graphic for a full size-image or see the chart below to find names)

The network graphic is a visualization of #cdnpoli conversations that took place between September 17 and November 30, 2011. Each dot represents one of the top00 influencers in #cdnpoli, as measured by the number of times they were mentioned by the 22,176 #cdnpoli users we tracked.

 Interestingly, by analyzing who tends to mention who more often, we can discover different conversations taking place in #cdnpoli. In the fall of 2011, there seemed to be four distinct “neighbourhoods” of conversations occurring:

The Ottawa Bubble

Coloured in blue, most of the users in this neighbourhood are federal politicians, journalists, and commentators.  They are the people you often think of when you think about Ottawa politics, and when they mention others in their tweets they tend to mention each other.

The Outsiders

Identified by their red dots, these users are on the opposite side of the network graph, and least likely to be engaged in conversations with those in the Ottawa Bubble.  Many of these users also tend to be those engaged in protest, or are members of alternative media sites.

There are some exceptions.  For example, @cbcalerts and @nationalpost are certainly not outsiders in any way.  But what our visualization tells us is that they tended to be mentioned as information sources more often by the Outsiders than by any other neighbourhood we encountered.

Information Broadcasters

These users are the information sources. Coloured in yellow, the Information Broadcasters are the ones who tweet out a lot of links, such as news organizations like @cbcpolitics or @globeandmail. Their position at the centre of the graph also tells us that the Ottawa Bubble and the Outsiders tend to mention the Information Broadcasters in equal amounts.

Lightning Rods

Finally, we have the Lightning Rods, coloured in green. Like the Information Broadcasters, they are at the centre of the #cdnpoli conversation and are mentioned equally by the Ottawa Bubble and the Outsiders. Unlike the Information Broadcasters, they tend to engage quite a lot with other users, including their fellow Lightning Rods, with some exceptions. @pmharper, for example, is located in this neighbourhood, but he doesn’t really engage in conversations with other Twitter users. But it also can’t be argued that he isn’t also a major topic of conversation for many posting in #cdnpoli.

Top 100 Mentioned Users in #cdnpoli (September to November 2011)

Rank User # of Mentions
1 min_reyes 2250
2 cbcpolitics 1860
3 pmharper 1749
4 leadnowca 1709
5 natnewswatch 1645
6 elizabethmay 1575
7 globeandmail 1523
8 beari8it 1431
9 wicary 1012
10 nspector4 954
11 antoniaz 914
12 bobraemp 792
13 cgcguncontrol 712
14 patmartinmp 708
15 harrisajackson 693
16 stephen_taylor 639
17 susandelacourt 636
18 tonyclementcpc 622
19 robertfife 616
20 deepgreendesign 613
21 canadaboatgaza 606
22 cbcalerts 581
23 tony_tracy 565
24 jimbobbysez 564
25 torontostar 541
26 ctvnews 508
27 ezralevant 497
28 somecanuckchick 474
29 nationalpost 466
30 peggynashndp 464
31 regulusdeleo 462
32 openmedia_ca 447
33 a_picazo 445
34 rickmercer 433
35 dgardner 419
36 trapdinawrpool 418
37 addthis 416
38 everettcoldwell 415
39 billhillier 411
40 kady 403
  ugottabekiddin 403
42 nppolitics 400
  cdnpress_ott 400
44 huffpostcanada 395
45 occupycanada 376
46 emmmacfarlane 372
47 nikiashton 360
48 liberal_party 338
49 c4sr 337
50 pmoharper 326
51 acoyne 295
52 fcm_online 294
  cbcnews 294
54 lettingsmokeout 274
55 althiaraj 267
  brianlilley 267
57 journo_dale 266
58 charlieangusmp 264
59 briantopp 262
60 jenditchburn 253
61 cometsmum 251
  wjoates 251
63 rabbleca 246
  evansolomoncbc 246
65 paulatics 240
66 ipoliticsca 234
67 occupytoronto 233
68 youtube 232
69 ethical_oil 227
70 uranowski 224
71 nycole_turmel 223
72 prog_blog 219
  cpac_tv 219
74 oliviachow 218
75 ubcic 213
76 ctvqp 211
77 kenneyjason 210
78 eye_on_events 206
  justinpjtrudeau 206
80 romeosaganash 203
81 chantalhbert 199
82 ottawadaddy 191
83 liberalfail99 187
84 ccpa 186
carolyn_bennett 186
86 canadiangreens 185
  m_ignatieff 185
88 thehilltimes 180
  psacnat 180
90 frankejames 179
91 davidakin 173
92 sk_moore 172
93 studentvote 171
94 occupyvancouver 169
95 noapatrickross 163
  jeffjedras 163
97 nathancullen 161
98 cfhorgan 154
99 pogge411 152
100 michaelhaack 151
mplauriehawn 151


Between September 17 and November 30, 2011, we collected tweets posted to #cdnpoli in real-time. From our collection of 133,147 tweets, we counted the number of times each user was mentioned and the users who were mentioning them.  There were 22,176 users in total.

Dot Size: The size of the dot reflects the number of times this user was mentioned by all #cdnpoli users.

Lines: Each time a user mentions another top influencer in a tweet, a line is drawn between the two users.

Distance: The distance between any two dots represents how likely the users are to mention each other. 

We then extracted the data for the top 100 mentioned users and loaded them into the Gephi data visualization software to produce the graphic you see above.  For the statistically minded, the neighbourhoods were calculated using a statistical algorithm in Gephi designed to compute the “modularity” of each user.
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