Dec. 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM ET
Unlike most major Internet brands, Wikipedia had no year-end top-10 list to share. But that's not to say there isn't a list of most viewed Wikipedia articles of 2012. It took a software engineer with a bit of spare time to gather up the data, and share the results, equal parts predictable and off-the-wall. What does this list say about us?
Based on Johan Gunnarsson's analysis of Wikipedia logs, it seems that the most viewed articles on the English version of Wikipedia are lined up as follows:
While we're not surprised to see iconic pop culture phenomena like musical sensation One Direction, the all-star movie "The Avengers," the risque literary trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" and of course the inescapable "Hunger Games" series appear, we did scratch our heads about Facebook and Google, and ... "Wiki"?
Wikimedia spokesman Jay Walsh explained the popularity of these items to All Things D's Liz Gannes as likely being due to users who might type "Facebook" or similar into a search engine built into "their browsers intending to go to the site and end up on Wikipedia." Either that, he says, or there's simply "general, high-level interest and curiosity" about the history of some of these websites and services.
We'll buy the accidental typing explanation over the "high-level of interest" one.
While most of the top 100 most-viewed English Wikipedia articles centered around pop culture and current events, some articles raise eyebrows for feeling a bit out of place. Entries on the Illuminati (No. 33), elocution (No. 34) and g-forces (No. 83) cropped up on the heels of expected entries like Mitt Romney (No. 22) and Justin Bieber (No. 25).
The more immature individuals among us may find it amusing that entries on sex (No. 18) and human penis size (No. 82) made it into the list of 100 most viewed. Android fanboys may flaunt the fact that an article about the mobile operating system hit the list at No. 70, while no entries about iOS made it into the top 100. (Though Steve Jobs did come in at No. 64.)
At least some people were using Wikipedia for its intended purpose, to cheat on homework assignments: Historical topics from Albert Einstein (No. 98) to the Hatfield-McCoy feud (No. 91) pepper the list.
When looking at the most viewed articles in languages other than English, we find that the obsession with major Web properties and pop culture extends beyond their idiom of origin. Facebook led the Spanish top 10, which also includes One Direction. German language readers were particularly interested in the TV shows "How I Met Your Mother," "The Big Bang Theory," "Two And A Half Men," and "Game Of Thrones" — all which made it into their top 10.
And speaking of Bieber, those with an irrational dislike for the teen heartthrob may find it comforting to know that he only made the top 10 in Norwegian and Danish. He failed to reach single digits in any other language, and sits at No. 25 on the list of the most viewed English Wikipedia articles.
"Gangnam Style," the ear-worm that beat Bieber's "Baby" to a billion views on YouTube, appears to have only made it onto one top-100 list — the English one — taking the No. 21 spot with a mere 13,129,876 views.
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