Wikipedia Depths: Enjoy a collection of the online encyclopedia’s most bizarre pages
@depthsofwikipedia If the authorities kill me for making this tiktok, just know that I loved you guys #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner ♬ original sound – Annie Rauwerda
What is your position on Wikipedia, the free and open online encyclopedia?
Students are often discouraged or prohibited from citing Wikipedia as a source, a bias that a Wikipedia entry titled “Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source on its own” supports:
Like a user-generated sourceit can be modified by anyone at any time, and any information it contains at any given time can be vandalisma work in progress or simply incorrect. Biographies of living people, news stories, and politically or culturally controversial topics are particularly vulnerable to these problems…Because Wikipedia is a volunteer-run project, it cannot continuously monitor every contribution. There are many mistakes that go unnoticed for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.
(Another entry advises those who persist in citing the exact time, date, and version of the article they are referring to.)
Wikipedia has a clearly stated policy prohibiting contributors from paraphrasing closely or directly copying and pasting from outside sources, although in a circle-within-a-circle situation, several prominent authors and journalists have been caught plagiarizing articles. from Wikipedia.
A list of Wikipedia controversies, published at – where else? – Wikipedia is a hair-raising litany of political sabotage, character assassinations and “revenge edits”. (The list is currently supported by 338 reference links and has been characterized as in need of updating since October 2021, due to a lack of edits regarding the “mainland China publisher controversy”.)
It can be a pretty scary place, but University of Michigan senior Annie Rauwerda, creator of the Depths of Wikipedia Instagram account, is unfazed. As she wrote in an article for the technical publication Grab:
Wikipedia is a beautifully comprehensive record of almost everything that matters; a modern, free, accessible and dynamic library of Alexandria. But Wikipedia is characterized not only by what it is, but also by what it is not. It’s not a soapbox, a battlefield, nor a blog.
It also becomes famous as Rauwerda’s Playground, or more accurately, a crowded swap shop in which millions of bizarre items are hidden.
If your schedule limits the time you can spend in its countless rabbit holes, Rauwerda will dig for you.
Turning a selection of Wikipedia excerpts into a collage for a friend’s quarantine inspired her to keep the party going with screenshots of bizarre entries posted to a dedicated Instagram account.
Her followers don’t seem to care whether a post contains an image or not, although the neuroscience major finds emotional, short or animal-related posts generate the most excitement. “I used to post more stuff that was conceptual,” she said. Lithium charger“like mind-blowing physics concepts, but these didn’t lend themselves as well to Instagram as they require a few minutes of thought and reading.”
Most of what she publishes comes to her in the form of reader submissions, though in a pinch she can always turn to the “holy grail” – Wikipedia’s own list of unusual articles.
In addition to Instagram, his findings can be found in a rarely published newsletter, and on TikTok and Twitterwhere some of our recent favorites include the definition of humstera list of games Buddha wouldn’t play, and the Paul O’Sullivan Band, “an international four-member pop-rock band, all named Paul O’Sullivan”.
Along the way, she’s found ways to give back, co-hosting a virtual edit-a-thon and bringing some real glamor to a live Wikipedia trivia contest.
And she recently wrote a serious article for Slate on Russians rushing to download a 29-gigabyte file containing Wikipedia in Russian after the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Media (Roskomnadzor) threatened to block it on content related to the invasion of Ukraine.
(You can read more about how this happens on Wikipedia…)
Submit a link to the Wikipedia page for possible inclusion on Wikipedia Depths here.
Follow Annie Rauwinda’s Wikipedia Depths on Instagram and TikTok.
Listen to Wikipedia: a website that turns every Wikipedia edit into real-time background music
– Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Little Potato Manifesto. Am here @AyunHalliday.