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Wikipedia is a great place to find information about any topic you’re interested in. But it can also be a great place to discover interesting topics you didn’t even know about. These tools help you discover new Wikipedia pieces and track what you want to read.
In case you didn’t already know, Wikipedia’s homepage offers a featured article every day, as well as topics in the news. If you aren’t visiting the homepage, you’re missing one of the best places to get new information every day. You should also consider the benefits of creating a Wikipedia account, so that you can track your interests and save pages for later.
1. Wiki Good Article (Twitter): Daily Random Article Worth Reading
Did you know that Wikipedia has a few criteria for what makes a good article? In fact, it made a list of these “good articles” that you can read. But of course, that would be too much in one day, so follow the Wiki Good Article bot on Twitter, which tweets one random link every day.
The six factors of a good article are that it is well written, verifiable with no original research, broad in its coverage, neutral, stable, and illustrated. There are a few disqualifying factors too, but largely, these six are enough to weed out uninteresting pieces.
Importantly, an entry loses its “good article” status if it becomes one of Wikipedia’s featured articles. So this list becomes a good way to find worthwhile articles that you’d otherwise not come across easily.
2. Copernix (Web): World Map With Wikipedia Entries
Copernix is a mixture of Google Maps and Wikipedia. It is a fascinating way to browse the map of the world and learn new things about it. Whether it’s history, geography, or current events, this is the coolest map-based experience since Google Earth.
The map is filled with pins from interesting Wikipedia articles about any area. But it isn’t based on points of interest alone. That means you don’t need a physical structure there for Copernix to place a pin. The pin is about what’s interesting from that area, whether it’s a person, an event, or anything else.
You’ll see pins like Prophet Muhammed in Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in Ethiopia, and so on. These aren’t landmarks in the physical sense, but they are landmark events in our world’s history, making it worth reading about.
At any point, you can browse a precis of all the pins in a pane on the left. Click a pin to expand its entry and read more about it. And there’s always a link to read the full Wikipedia entry. Fair warning, spend a few minutes on Copernix and you’re bound to go down the rabbit hole.
3. Weeklypedia (Web): Weekly List of Major Changes in Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a good indicator of important happenings. When any major event takes place in the world, editors hop on to related articles about that event and start updating it. The number of changes in an article thus points to what you need to pay attention to.
These changes are available through Wikipedia’s open-source tools. Weeklypedia tracks the changes and lists the 20 most edited articles in any week, turning them into a newsletter. It’s like a digest of what’s happening around the world, dropped into your inbox. The interesting part is that the changed articles aren’t always news-related.
Along with the 20 most edited articles, Weeklypedia also tracks other activity on Wikipedia. The top five Discussions, where editors talk about hotly debated topics and what to say or not say about them, is a great place to see all sides of an argument unfolding. And the top 10 new articles created in the week is like a little news bulletin.
There is simply no reason not to subscribe to Weeklypedia. Think of it as some leisure reading, as and when you want it.
4. WikiTweaks (Chrome): Better Looking Wikipedia and History Tracking
As amazing as Wikipedia is, its design could be far better. The amount of wasted space on any page doesn’t seem optimized for reading, especially when there are tables, charts, or images.
The Chrome extension WikiTweaks makes a few cosmetic changes to Wikipedia that use space more efficiently, making a better reading experience. It’s an old extension that also adds previews if you hover over any link, but that’s not needed now that Wikipedia has made that an official feature.
WikiTweaks also tracks your Wikipedia history, which is an invaluable tool for those who have a habit of falling down the rabbit hole. Click the extension icon and you’ll see the last Wikipedia pages you visited, instantly reminding you how you landed up on the page you’re reading.
Download: WikiTweaks for Chrome (Free)
5. EpubPress (Chrome, Firefox): Create an Ebook of Multiple Wikipedia Links
Once you’ve got your topics, you should be able to read them anywhere, even offline. Wikipedia offers its own tool to create and download a PDF of multiple links. But currently, the Book Creator tool is undergoing changes and you can’t get these PDFs.
EpubPress is a great alternative to Wikipedia Book Creator, and much simpler to use. Install the extension in your browser, and open browse Wikipedia as you would. At any point, click the extension to see a list of all open tabs. Choose which ones you want to add to the ebook. Give it a name and a description, and download. It takes some time for the tool to finish downloading and compiling all pages, but it’s worth the wait.
The only restriction is that your final file is in ePub format, not in PDF. But that’s not a worry as most readers will support ePub. Alternately, you can always convert the ePub to PDF or any other file format with free online tools.
Wikipedia Alternatives and Improvements
Wikipedia is unquestioningly the biggest user-edited encyclopedia in the world, but it isn’t the only resource you should trust. It’s in your best interest to look at alternatives, and also try to improve it as much as possible.
For starters, check out these five Wikipedia alternatives and tools for a better encyclopedia. You should especially try out Qikipedia, which gives Wikipedia previews anywhere on the web when you select some text.