Millions of people use Wikipedia every day to look up information, and chances are you’re one of them. Since this global resource went on line in 2001, it has grown to be the website everyone turns to first when they want answers to a question about a fact, figure, or statistic. In fact, it has become so common that it’s like breathing oxygen – it’s so much a part of our daily lives that we don’t even think about it any more. That’s why you might be surprised by these five facts about Wikipedia – which you can all find on Wikipedia itself, of course!
Surprising Fact #1: Wikipedia is even more multilingual than you thought.
There are more articles in English (almost 5 million) than in any other language, but when it comes to languages in which more than a million entries have been published, English-language articles make up less than a third of the total. Other top contributors are from authors who speak French, Spanish, Polish, Swedish, or Cebuano, one of the languages used in the Philippines.
And there are even more languages used on Wikipedia when you look at smaller total numbers of articles. Native speakers in Japan, Portugal, and China will all find at least 100,000 articles written in their language, and so will people who live in Norway, Lithuania, and the Basque country of northwest Spain and southwest France.
Surprising Fact #2: Earlier versions of Wikipedia articles are stored, not deleted.
Most people think that an online entry in Wikipedia can’t be trusted because anyone can go in and make changes and edits. While it is true that articles are open to editing, there are also thousands of dedicated editors who watch for people who are making destructive changes, which they call “vandalism.” The website also has automatic subroutines that watch for the same thing happening at the database level. If a page has been tampered with, the previous correct version can be restored.
Surprising Fact #3: Wikipedia is updated thousands of times per hour.
Somewhere in the world, someone is updating a Wikipedia article right now. Actually, there are likely a hundred people editing articles right this very second, and another hundred just started on a different set of article edits and additions. In many categories of information, such as politics and current events, Wikipedia is one of the most up-to-date resources you can find.
Surprising Fact #4: No matter where you start in Wikipedia, you’ll end up on the same page.
The next time you have a few minutes to spare, try this trick:
- Go to any Wikipedia page, such as eReflect’s Wikipedia page.
- Find the first internal Wikipedia link on the page (not one that is in parentheses or italics).
- Click the link. Now look for the first internal link on that new page.
- Repeat step 3.
More than 90 percent of the time, if you keep clicking on the first internal link of every article, you’ll eventually end up at the Wikipedia page titled “Philosophy.” Now that’s food for thought!
Surprising Fact #5: Wikipedia contains information on anything you can think of – and more.
If you’re interested in learning something new, but you don’t know where to start, you can always type in a random word or phrase in the “search” box at the top of any Wikipedia page. You could also click the “Random Article” link on the left sidebar menu. It’s a great way to get new ideas and inspiration for more reading and research, and you’ll see articles on topics you never even dreamed of, like these:
– the prehistoric South American mammal called Nesodon, which weighed over a ton
a) Big Time, the live album by Tom Waits released in 1988
b) the names of the global rulers and heads of government in 503 AD
c) 19th-century Cuban revolutionary Ignacio Agramonte
A word of warning: using Wikipedia’s “Random Article” link will lead you to entertaining articles and interesting facts, but it can be addictive. There’s always more to learn with just one more click . . .