Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy

Clicking on the first link in the main text of an English Wikipedia article, and then repeating the process for subsequent articles, usually leads to the Philosophy article. In February 2016, this was true for 97% of all articles in Wikipedia,[1] an increase from 94.52% in 2011. The remaining articles lead to an article without any outgoing wikilinks, to pages that do not exist, or get stuck in loops.

Crawl on Wikipedia from random article to Philosophy.
Graph created (circa April 2015) with the xefer[2] 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 articles begin by defining the topic of the article. A consequence of this style is that the first sentence of an article is almost always a definitional statement, a direct answer to the question "what is [the subject]?"

Method summarized edit

Following the chain consists of:

  1. Clicking on the first non-parenthesized, non-italicized link
  2. Ignoring external links or red links (links to non-existent pages)
  3. Stopping when reaching "Philosophy", or a page with no links, or when a loop occurs

Mathematician Hannah Fry demonstrated the method in the 'Marmalade', 'socks' and 'One Direction'[3] section of the 2016 BBC Documentary The Joy of Data.[4]

Origins edit

The phenomenon has been known since at least 26 May 2008, when an earlier version[5] of this page was created by user Mark J.[6] Two days later, it was mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast Wikipedia Weekly, which may have been its first public mention.[7]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Lamprecht, Daniel; Dimitrov, Dimitar; Helic, Denis; Strohmaier, Markus (2016-08-17). Evaluating and Improving Navigability of Wikipedia: A Comparative Study of Eight Language Editions (PDF). OpenSym, Berlin, Germany: Association for Computing Machinery. doi:10.1145/2957792.2957813. ISBN 978-1-4503-4451-7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2023-09-04. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  2. ^
  3. ^ 'Marmalade', 'socks' and 'One Direction'
  4. ^ The Joy of Data
  5. ^ earlier version
  6. ^ "Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy".
  7. ^ "Wikipedia Weekly — Episode 50: Wikipedia Story".

External links edit