Wikipedia:Link surfing

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See also Wikipedia:Wikipedia games.

Link surfing is the process of starting on one article on a website and clicking on various hyperlinks to eventually finish on a different (pre-determined) article. The English Wikipedia edition has 5,429,959 articles, so there are 5,429,959 possible starting points and 5,429,958 possible finishing points. This calculates to a total number of paths that would be nearly impossible for a human being to calculate in his or her lifetime. Here is an example script written in Python that does this:

import math

print math.factorial(4259335)

Link surfing is also known as Wiki Racing or the Wiki Game.

How to link-surf[edit]

Not to be confused with regular surfing, to link-surf all you need is a computer and a satisfactory internet connection. Link surfing is simple, since it is as easy as opening a hyperlink. You can use any website you want for this activity, but the best websites are often wikis, such as Wikipedia. You simply go to a page you are going to start at on your website, be it a page chosen at random or decided upon beforehand. You then click on links and select a page to continue onto. It is called 'surfing' because just like surfing, if you don't pay close attention to the links you click on, the 'flow' can be broken, and you can 'wipeout' by running into a page with poor links or no links at all. There are actually many different versions of Link Surfing [wiki-surfing; web-surfing and so on], with various terms used, some that may or may not be the same as the terms used here.

Dry run link-surfing[edit]

Dry run Linking, also called leggin' it is a form of link-surfing in which the user does not read the information on the pages they pass through. This term can apply to any other form of link-surfing which does not involve reading the information on the pages, except for 'Extreme Link-Surfing' which, if it was performed, would be more about the viral byproduct of the webpages linked through rather than reading information anyway. This is, for the most part, a useless activity, similar in utility to twiddling one's thumbs or counting sheep.

Tab-surfing[edit]

Also Tab-surfing, also more accurately known as 'Branching' is a type of link-surfing in which, rather than click directly through to the next web page, the link is opened as a new window or new Tab. This method is used by people wishing to read as much information as possible on a variety of subjects which may or may not be related. The problem with tab-surfing is that it may cause users grief if they have too many windows open. And then when people try to close unwanted windows it can lead to 'deforestation' (closing too many windows) and, although they opened a lot more windows than the average link-surfer, they actually end up learning less. But for the internet user with a 'green thumb' and a lot of free time on their hands, they can be capable of growing a fertile 'knowledge tree' (a succinct collection of web pages that they can easily navigate and research from) and from this gain more knowledge than the average link-surfer.

Link-hopping[edit]

Although it is a form of link-surfing, it is considered to be very different from the general consensus of what defines link-surfing. It is the practice of starting from one page, and then using a 'Random Page' link to change from page to page. This is frowned upon by experienced link-surfers, as it lacks any form of skill beyond peripheral input device manipulation [aka, the ability to 'click' the mouse]. But this does not mean that it is not a valuable research tactic for those unsure of what they wish to learn, and just like many other Link-Surfing activities, effectively uses up one's time.

Link-tunneling[edit]

Although link-tunneling can be used as a research method, it is more useful as a type of recreational activity. Link Tunneling is an interesting sport or 'link-surfing game' based on finding the fastest route to a chosen page. This activity may be performed in solitude or in competition. The participants start on a certain page, be it predetermined or chosen at random. The participants then choose or are given a destination page. Then, using only using one-click linking, must find the fastest route to the destination page. Players may choose beforehand whether or not they will allow using the back button [called 'backing' or 'reversing'] to escape from 'wipe-out' pages. This is one of many various activities that people have discovered in spouts of boredom.

Extreme link-surfing[edit]

Extreme Link-Surfing is also called 'hangten-linking' in reference to the surfing term 'hang ten' which is a surfing trick idolized by its risk and difficulty. Considered more to be an internet urban legend or hoax, similar to the bonsai kitten, Extreme Link-Surfing is the activity of deliberately link-surfing through unreliable or illicit websites which are at a high risk of transferring viruses. This is particularly dangerous, as some websites with high risks of transferring viruses have been known to loop the user around in circles from one bad website to another, meaning that if a person was to link-surf through them, it is almost inevitable that they will download a virus. It is advised that this is not attempted by any internet user as it is neither safe nor fun.

Path-finding[edit]

An interesting form of wiki-surfing in particular is Path-Finding [also called 'trail-blazing' or 'railroading'], which is a form of link-surfing where the user deliberately looks for dead links or 'wipe-out pages'. Then, upon finding these links, fills in the relevant information if possible. This is a morally uplifting activity since it gives the internet user pride in the possibility that they are aiding the travels of a fellow link-surfer. As such, path-finding is encouraged in the link-surfing community.

If you wish to begin link surfing, you may start by clicking here.

See also[edit]

External Reading[edit]

  • Wikipedia Tunneling - An insightful description of how to further enjoy the pleasures of Wikipedia through self education and introspection.