Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are free to view, not lumbered with ads, and are edited by people like us. It’s a resource that everybody knows about, but which very few people truly make the most of.
Part of the problem is that most people only head to Wikipedia when they have something specific in mind they want to learn more about. They then search for that subject matter, read the relevant article, and then scoot back off to whatever dark corner of the Web they crawled out of. But wait, there is more to Wikipedia than that. Much more, in fact. The tricky part of the equation is knowing how to find interesting content.
Thankfully that’s why MakeUseOf exists. Having previously pointed out interesting people on Wikipedia and unsolved mysteries that have actually been solved on Wikipedia, here is a glimpse into the methods used to gain such insights. What follows are seven ways you can use to find new and interesting content on Wikipedia.
We begin with the Wikipedia homepage, which may seem a little obvious, but if my experience is anything to go b, it is a page some of you never land on. It’s often much easier to search for something on Google than it is to head to Wikipedia itself, but that means you miss out on an immense resource for information junkies.
The Wikipedia homepage contains a portion of a featured article, links to pages that will be of interest to those following news and current affairs, a ‘Did You Know…‘ section containing new content, and an ‘On This Day‘ section with links to pages detailing historical events.
Next up is the Wikipedia Portal, which is like an entrance to the inner sanctum. What lurks here are shortcuts to a lot of the best content available on Wikipedia, with overviews, lists, indexes, timelines, and glossaries all served up for you to take advantage of.
It came as a revelation to me while researching this piece to find that Wikipedia has an A-Z index, with all 4 million-plus pages laid out in alphabetical order. Be warned that once you crack open Wikipedia in this way it’s hard to put the stopper back in the bottle.
One of the pages spinning off from the portal is dedicated to Featured Articles. These are the articles considered by the editors to be the best Wikipedia has to offer, with “accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style” being the key criteria in deciding what makes the grade.
As usual with Wikipedia, reading one article usually leads to reading others, and it’s here that the Featured Articles section proves its usefulness. Find a subject that interests you from this list and you’ll likely find many more that also interest you.
Another page spinning off from the portal is the Most Popular page. Clicking on it means you’ll be redirected to the Wikipedia page of the individual user who generates the list. He does this once a week, detailing the 5000 most-accessed articles on Wikipedia over the previous seven days.
The list comprises a healthy mix of ever-present pages (Facebook, YouTube, Sex) and those being visited because of current newsworthiness (The Great Gatsby, Iron Man 3, Cinco de Mayo). While popularity isn’t everything, this list does provide an interesting insight into what people are searching for.
Recent Changes Map
The Wikipedia Recent Changes Map shows any edits made by unregistered users, with their IP addresses revealing their rough geographical location.
As dots are added to the map, a list of these changes continually refreshes at the bottom of the page. You can click on any of the Wikipedia links that interest you, and not only land on a new page but also gain an insight into the editing process.
The Reddit subreddit dedicated to Wikipedia boasts the subheading of “The Most Interesting Pages On Wikipedia,” and that is an accurate description of the content.
People submit Wikipedia pages they have discovered, with the front page at the time of writing featuring links to Anachronisms In The Book Of Mormon and The Bechdel Test, amongst others.
The Wiki Game
The Wiki Game is a website which makes use of Wikipedia as a source of fun as well as facts. You choose the game you want to play — including a Speed Race and Six Degrees Of Wikipedia (loosely based on Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon) — and then compete with others either on the site or through the iOS app.
This is just one of a number of Wikipedia games you can play. What they all have in common is their use of Wikipedia as a tool for edutainment. The gaming aspects are entertaining, but you’re almost guaranteed to learn something while playing them, hence they’re also educational.
My hope is that you now have the tools at your disposal needed to find new and interesting content on Wikipedia on a daily basis. We should surely all strive to learn more about the world we live in, and Wikipedia offers a simple-yet-effective way of doing just that.
Do you know of any other methods of finding interesting content on Wikipedia? Do you trust Wikipedia as a source of information or is there still some doubt in your mind about the truthfulness of its contents? Please let us know your thoughts on the subject at hand in the comments section below.