Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy

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Clicking on the first lowercase 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 February 2016, 97% of all articles in Wikipedia eventually lead to the article Philosophy.[1] The remaining articles lead to an article without any outgoing wikilinks, to pages that do not exist, or get stuck in loops. This has gone up from 94.52% in 2011.[2] The median link chain length to reach philosophy is 23. Notably, starting from the Philosophy article itself, it takes 7 steps to return to it as of October 17, 2016.

Crawl on Wikipedia from random article to Philosophy.
Graph created with the 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 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".

Method summarized[edit]

Following the chain consists of:

  1. Clicking on the first non-parenthesized, non-italicized link
  2. Ignoring external links, links to the current page, or red links
  3. Stopping when reaching "Philosophy", a page with no links or a page that does not exist, or when a loop occurs

For example, from this page, you would go: Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy -> Hyperlink -> Hypertext -> Computer monitor -> Electronics -> Science -> Knowledge -> Awareness -> Quality (philosophy) -> Philosophy.

You can see mathematician Hannah Fry demonstrate the method in the 'Marmalade', 'socks' and 'One Direction' section of the 2016 BBC Documentary The Joy of Data


The phenomenon has been known since at least May 26, 2008, when an earlier version of this page was created by user Mark J.[3] Two days later, it was mentioned in episode 50 of the podcast Wikipedia Weekly, which may have been the first public mention of it.[4]

In Popular Culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lamprecht, Daniel; Dimitrov, Dimitar; Helic, Denis; Strohmaier, Markus (2016). "Evaluating and Improving Navigability of Wikipedia: A Comparative Study of Eight Language Editions" (PDF). ACM. Retrieved August 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ Ilmari Karen (June 2011). "First link". Wikipedia user page. 
  3. ^ "Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy". 
  4. ^ "Wikipedia Weekly — Episode 50: Wikipedia Story". 

External links[edit]