Do you regularly visit Wikipedia? What kind of things are you looking for? Do you ever look for intriguing, funny or strange facts or tidbits? For example, are you interested in discovering a political party that opposes the use of PowerPoint? Or learn about the world’s most unwanted song? Or maybe find photos of a chicken – yes, just cross the road?
If you like curiosities and quirks like this, you might love @depthsofwikipedia, an Instagram account that collects some of the most outlandish pages of the crowdsourced encyclopedia. In “Want to see Wikipedia’s weirdest? Search no further”, writes Anna P. Kambhampaty:
Did you know that there is a Swiss political party that campaigns against the use of PowerPoint? That some people believe that Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a doppelganger? Or that there is a stone in a museum in Taiwan that looks eerily like a piece of meat?
Probably not – unless, that is, you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people following @depthsofwikipedia† The Instagram account shares bizarre and surprising excerpts from the vast, crowdsourced online encyclopedia, including funny images (a chicken that literally crosses a road) and small moments in history (Mitt Romney drives his dog on top of his car for several hours† Some messages are healthy – such as: Hatsuyumethe Japanese word for your first dream of the year – while others are not safe for work (e.g. panda pornography).
Annie Rauwerda, 22, started the account in the early days of the pandemic, when others were baking sourdough bread and learning to knit. “Everyone started projects, and this was my project,” she said.
At the time, she was a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Students are often discouraged from using Wikipedia as a resource in academic work because: most of his pages can be edited by anyone and may contain incorrect information. But for Ms. Rauwerda, the site was always more about entertainment: clicking one link after another for hours, getting lost in rabbit holes.
“Wikipedia is the best on the internet,” said Ms. Rauwerda in a telephone interview. “It’s what the internet was supposed to be. It has a hacker ethos of working together and making something.”
Initially, only her friends followed the account. But it got a wave of attention when Ms Rauwerda posted about influencer Caroline Calloway, who was upset that the after contained an old version of her Wikipedia page that said her profession was “nothing”. Ms. Rawerda apologized and Ms. Calloway later raised the account on her Instagram.
Ms. Rawerda has since expanded @depthsofwikipedia to Twitter and TikTok. She sells merchandise (such as a coffee mug decorated with an image from the Wikipedia article for “bisexual enlightenment”) and has hosted a live show in Manhattan, featuring trivia and stand-up.
Her followers often pitch her Wikipedia pages, but these days it’s hard to find an entry that will impress Ms. Rauwerda. “If it’s a fun fact that’s been on the Reddit homepage, I’m definitely not going to repost it,” she said. “For example, there are only 25 zeppelins in the world. I’ve known that for a long time and it went viral on Twitter a few days ago. I was shocked. I was like, ‘Everyone knows this.’”
She is picky in large part because many of her followers depend on @depthsofwikipedia to discover the hidden gems of the internet.
students, read the whole articlethen tell us:
What’s your favorite place on the internet to find cool, weird, or fascinating information? Describe the site and why you enjoy visiting it. What is the most memorable thing you saw, learned or discovered there?
What is your response to @depthsofwikipedia? Did you already know the Instagram account? Does reading the article make you want to visit it now? Which of Wikipedia’s “hidden gems” discussed in the article caught your eye the most?
Annie Rauwerda, 22, says Wikipedia is “the best on the web.” Do you agree? How often do you visit Wikipedia? What kind of topics are you looking for? Do you ever spend hours on the site clicking one link after another and “get lost in rabbit holes” as Mrs. Rauwerda does?
Ms. Rawerda says she hopes visitors will walk away from her page with new shared knowledge: “I want you to see something that makes you pause and think, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting.’ Something that makes you rethink the world a little bit.” What’s the coolest thing you’ve found on Wikipedia? Have you ever discovered anything on the internet that made you think “Hmm, that’s interesting” or made you rethink the world a little bit?
The article says followers of @depthsofwikipedia often pitch Wikipedia pages, but these days it’s hard to find a submission that will impress Ms. Rauwerda. Which Wikipedia page would you pitch?
Mrs. Rauwerda created @depthsofwikipedia as a sophomore at university. If you could create or manage your own website or social media account, what would it be and why?
Students 13 and older in the United States and Great Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please note that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.