Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy

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Clicking on the first link in the main text of a Wikipedia article, and then repeating the process for subsequent articles, would usually lead to the Philosophy article. As of February 2016, 97% of all articles in Wikipedia eventually led to the article Philosophy. The remaining articles lead to an article without any outgoing wikilinks, to pages that do not exist, or get stuck in loops. This has gone up from 94.52% in 2011.[1]

Crawl on Wikipedia from random article to Philosophy.
Graph created (circa April 2015) with the tool.

There have been some theories on this phenomenon, with the most prevalent being the tendency for Wikipedia pages to move up a "classification chain." According to this theory, the Wikipedia Manual of Style guidelines on how to write the lead section of an article recommend that the article should start by defining the topic of the article, so that the first link of each page will naturally take the reader into a broader subject, eventually ending in wide-reaching pages such as Mathematics, Science, Language, and of course, Philosophy, nicknamed the "mother of all sciences".

Method summarizedEdit

Following the chain consists of:

  1. Clicking on the first non-parenthesized, non-italicized link
  2. Ignoring external links, links to the current page, or red links (links to non-existent pages)
  3. Stopping when reaching "Philosophy", a page with no links or a page that does not exist, or when a loop occurs

Mathematician Hannah Fry demonstrated the method in the 'Marmalade', 'socks' and 'One Direction' section of the 2016 BBC Documentary The Joy of Data.


The phenomenon has been known since at least May 26, 2008, when an earlier version of this page was created by user Mark J.[2] Two days later, it was mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast Wikipedia Weekly, which may have been the first public mention of it.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ilmari Karen (June 2011). "First link". Wikipedia user page. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ "Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy".
  3. ^ "Wikipedia Weekly — Episode 50: Wikipedia Story".

External linksEdit