Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
Clicking on the first link in the main text of a Wikipedia article, and then repeating the process for subsequent articles, usually eventually gets one to the Philosophy article. As of May 26, 2011, 94.52% of all articles in Wikipedia lead eventually to the article Philosophy. The remaining 100,000 (approx.) links to an article with no wikilinks or with links to pages that do not exist, or get stuck in loops (all three are equally probable). The median link chain length to reach philosophy is 23.
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".
Applying the same steps to "Philosophy" itself and continuing onward, the user will no longer return to "Philosophy" after 6 steps (as it did as of 4 September 2014), but now will return after 23 steps. Previously, the user would return to "Philosophy" after 15 steps. (3 June 2014)
As of the 6th of January, the user get stuck in a loop beginning with 'Physics'.
Following the chain consists of:
- Clicking on the first non-parenthesized, non-italicized link
- Ignoring external links, links to the current page, or red links
- Stopping when reaching "Philosophy", a page with no links or a page that does not exist, or when a loop occurs
The phenomenon has been known since at least May 26, 2008, when an earlier version of this page was created by user Mark J. Two days later, it was mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast Wikipedia Weekly, which may have been the first public mention of it.
Examples of exceptions to the Getting to Philosophy rule
- Ilmari Karonen (June 2011). "First link". Wikipedia user page.
- "Wikipedia:Get to Philosophy" article – first version
- Wikipedia Weekly Episode 50
- web page that renders links graphically in a tree (detects loops and uses the second link to always complete the process)
- YouTube video demonstrating this observation, which starts with random article and eventually end up in the article Philosophy
- Analysis showing that over 95% of Wikipedia articles get to Philosophy
- Cartoon at xkcd featuring the observation (see tooltip)
- WikiLoopr a tool designed to find loops when following the first link in articles.
- "The Only Way Is Essex + Wikipedia = philosophy". The Guardian.
- Amy Lee (2011-11-14). "All Wikipedia Ends In Philosophy, Literally". The Huffington Post.