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The 10 most-read Wikipedia entries of 2012

A social media site was the topic most people wanted to look up. But which one was it?

Image: aodaodaodaod via Shutterstock

WE JOURNALISTS ARE warned not to rely on Wikipedia as a failsafe source of information. It’s good advice but the crowd-sourced online encyclopaedia is certainly irresistible as a vast site of interesting reads.

A list which compiles the top 10 most-read Wikipedia pages of this year gives a good insight into the preoccupations of the (English-speaking) world in 2012. The most looked-up entry on the site this year? The controversy-prone, newly-floated social media site Facebook was the topic that received most hits with a view count of 32,647,942.

Many of the other most clicked on pages reflect the pop culture interests of 2012 – they include boyband One Direction, erotic fiction hit Fifty Shades of Grey and movies The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games and The Avengers.

Wikipedia doesn’t release the figures themselves but this list was compiled by a Swedish IT whizz Johan Gunnarsson who analysed “a bunch of script and programs that download and process traffic logs from Wikipedia, to find the pages with greatest uptrend in page views the last day”. So, thanks for that, Johan.

The AllThingsD website cites Wikimedia spokesman Jay Walsh’s explanation for Facebook’s popularity as a page on Wikipedia – users often end up there by typing Facebook into a search engine (rather than typing the Facebook URL into their browser) and the Wikipedia page comes up first; that and the fact that Facebook’s floatation, privacy controversies and so on, as mentioned previously, made it a hot topic in 2012.

These were the most popular Wikipedia pages in English in 2012:

  1. Facebook 32,647,942
  2. Wiki 29,613,759
  3. Deaths in 2012 25,418,587
  4. One Direction 22,351,637
  5. The Avengers (2012 film) 22,268,644
  6. Fifty Shades of Grey 21,779,423
  7. 2012 phenomenon 20,619, 920
  8. The Dark Knight Rises 18,882,885
  9. Google 18,508,719
  10. The Hunger Games 18, 431, 626

Gunnarsson also compiled the top 10 most-read Wikipedia entries in 34 other languages which you can also click on individually here.

German readers, for example, went wild for US sitcoms How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. But their most popular topic? Sackgasse. What’s that? A page explaining what a cul-de-sac is. The German news site zdnet.de has a possible, if hilarious, explanation for this: it might be a translation error in German speakers looking for information on boyband One Direction. Imagine the confusion…

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