In celebration of Wikipedia’s tenth anniversary, Wired Magazine posted this great article on 10 unusual facts about the internet’s most popular encyclopedia.
Ten Impressive, Weird And Amazing Facts About Wikipedia
by John Cabell
The job of editing the largest encyclopedia that mankind has ever created isn’t all serious. As you might imagine with a community the size of Wikipedia’s, the occasional slice of brilliance, wonder or outright oddity breaks out. Here are 10 impressive, enlightening or just plain weird facts about the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit as it celebrates its 10th anniversary Saturday.
1) Wikipedia’s official theme song is “Hotel Wikipedia”
The Eagles’ 1976 hit Hotel California has been co-opted as the official theme song for Wikipedia, froma list of a number of songs described as W.O.R, or “Wikipedia-oriented rock”. A sample runs: “And in the dance of the pages / Editors sweat / Some change to remember / some change to forget.”
The site claims it was released as a single in the spring of 2004, but appropriately there’s no citation for that reference. Be aware of editing it, though. On the W.O.R. page the listing states: “If you edit it, you are proposing an official change! Much bureaucracy will be involved!”
2) Wikipedia has a birthday committee
The birthday committee exists to wish happy birthday to Wikipedians who list their birthday on their talk page, or on the list of Wikimedians by birthday. The committee’s homepage offers a number of banners that can be used to wish a Wikipedian a happy birthday, including one in the dreaded Comic Sans.
Want to join, but worried that someone else will get to each day’s talk pages first? Don’t be concerned! The rules of the birthday committee clearly state that “More than one person from the committee may send messages to the same person.” That sounds like a rule with an argument in its history.
3) The least popular, but still active, alternate-language Wikipedia is Cheyenne
Netsêhesenêstsehe? Unlikely, but if you do, then you should be editing the Cheyenne-language Wikipedia, which has just 57 articles at the time of writing, and only 10 active users. Smaller alternate-language Wikipedias do exist, but they’re locked from editing and in the process of being shut down.
English, German and French are the three most popular languages, unsurprisingly, but the Catalan Wikipedia — which has just 13 million speakers — is more than twice as popular than the Indonesian Wikipedia, which has 165 million speakers worldwide. The list of Wikipedia articles per populationexpands on this further.
4) Wikipedia has a policy titled “No Angry Mastodons”
There’s a long tradition within Wikipedia of offering up insane policies under slightly silly names. There’s “No climbing the Reichstag dressed as Spiderman.” “Jimbo’s prayer” and “No curses,” which requests that users don’t target the Wikipedia community with any malevolent hex, seal, spell, or enchantment.
My favorite, though is “No Angry Mastodons,” which deals with posting under the influence of anger, and offers recommendations on how to avoid other people stampeding.
5) US Conservatives believe that Wikipedia has a liberal bias, so they’ve started up a competing Conservapedia
If you reject the scientific consensus on climate change, aren’t keen on gun control or feel safe in the knowledge that the Universe was created by a supernatural being, you might find Wikipedia has somewhat of a liberal bias. No problem. Conservapedia will welcome you with open arms.
Some of Conservapedia’s more notable pages include the entry on the link between atheism and obesity, listing a number of prominent overweight atheists including Christopher Hitchins and Kim Jong-il, the entry on “Hollywood values”, which are “characterized by decadence, narcissism, rampant drug use, extramarital sex leading to the spread of sexually-transmitted disease, abortion, lawlessness, promotion of the homosexual agenda and death” — and best of all the list of “examples of bias in Wikipedia”, which encourages readers to email Jimmy Wales and tell him to sort it out.
6) There’s a competition to guess what the last article in Wikipedia will be
If you’re feeling clairvoyant, you can try your hand in a pool to guess exactly what the last article ever written in Wikipedia will be. Other pools exists for other milestones, but the last article inspires a bit more attention.
Why might something be the last article? Well, Wikipedia could be shut down due to lack of funds, the internet could be subject to some catastrophe, interest may dwindle, the site may change its name, or it’s possible that it may one day reach the sum of all human knowledge. Suggestions so far include “How to divide by zero”, ” So long and thanks for all the fish” and “Last digit of pi”.
7) Wikipedia has a list of “deleted articles with freaky titles”
If you’re after a bit of amusement, Wikipedia’s list of DAFT, or “deleted articles with freaky titles” is a good place to head. As the name suggests, it’s a list of articles that people have created which have subsequently been deleted, but were too wonderfully-named not to keep some sort of a record of.
Examples include: “Beefstache”, “Diarrhea of a genius”, “Guide to: Blowing Your Nose & Getting Dressed” and the twin lists of “notable people who have been stung by jellyfish” and “jellyfish who have stung notable people”. Excellent.
8) Wikipedia has had more than 1 billion edits, across 17.6 million articles, from 27 million users
You knew Wikipedia was big, but the best way to get some grasp of exactly how big is to refresh this page a few times in quick succession, and watch the numbers move.
Also of interest on the statistics front might be the list of article traffic jumps, the list of popular articles,list of notable Wikipedians and the page of awareness statistics.
9) The Wikimedia foundation runs a Wikiversity
Among the wide array of sister projects to Wikipedia, Wikiversity is one of the newest. It’s a site dedicated to collaborative learning, where teachers can create and revise materials for helping other people learn things. While you won’t get a degree from it, anyone can either take or teach a course.
10) Wikipedia has a bot that can suggest things for you to work on based on your editing history
One of the most daunting questions for a new user, once they’ve made their first edit, is what to do next. It’s a problem that affects even long-term users. Wikipedia has a section of its community dedicated to answering that question, but that community has also built a bot that looks at your editing history to suggest you articles that you might like to work on next.
It has some limitations — it can’t prioritize redlinks, but it will avoid certain types of articles — like section stubs — that don’t need much work. It should also avoid re-recommending the same page more than once to the same user. It also ignores anything that happens on talk pages. If you want to help out creating the largest encyclopedia in the world, then SuggestBot is the way to do it.