These free apps provide fantastic ways to navigate Wikipedia and discover articles worth reading on the world’s largest publicly-editable encyclopedia.
Wikipedia is one of the greatest free resources on the internet, with almost 6.5 million articles in the English version alone. But too often, we only use the website to search for something, rather than simply browsing it to learn about new things. These apps try to give you ways to browse Wikipedia and discover articles in new ways.
1. WikiStroll (Web): Browse Random Wikipedia Articles by Category
In the left sidebar of Wikipedia, you’ll find a simple button to take you to a random article on the site. It’s a great feature, but WikiStroll improves upon it by ensuring the random articles are something that you’ll be interested in.
On WikiStroll, you can select from various categories before you generate an article. These include people (writers, artists, scientists, sports figures, politicians, religious figures), history, animals, biology, plants, places, and various other subjects (like sports, science, philosophy, arts).
These categories stay on the page all the time, so you can change them on the fly while generating new random articles. We especially liked a cool section called Everyday Life, which takes you to random pages like milk, tavern, jacket, and other such things.
Please note that WikiStroll does not offer any NSFW filters, so you can expect the same level of work-safe viewing as Wikipedia has.
2. Whataday (Web): Find Important Events Around Any Date or Period
Wikipedia has a daily “On This Day” section to talk about the important things that happened on a particular date. And you’ll find some cool events and articles through this. But Whataday looks to answer the question, “When this was happening, what else happened around the same time/location?”
The website has parsed the full Wikipedia database of articles to let you find nearby events, time, and locations to any article. The first step is to search for an article or phrase you are interested in and choose from the results. Or you can use the site’s homepage, which features a list of random interesting events and dates.
Click any article, and you’ll find two ways to find related wikis: Browse closeby in time and Browse closeby in location. Each shows a small snippet of the related article, mainly where it links to your original. It’s a fun way to dive down the rabbit hole to find weird and interesting Wikipedia articles.
3. Batou Explorer (Web): Visually Explore Related Articles for Any Wikipedia Topic
Wikipedia is infamously a rabbit hole where you click from link to link and keep finding interesting things. Batou Explorer tries to make that a visual experience by presenting a wheel of related topics to whatever you’re currently interested in.
The main article is at the center, while the wheel is generally divided into six to eight pies with multiple related articles. These are grouped according to some parameters, which change as per the main article. You’ll also see all these related articles presented as a list on the wheel’s right, while the left carries the group topics.
Hovering your mouse over any article shows you a short description of why that item is there. If you want to read the full Wikipedia entry, press the spacebar to get a pop-over layer with the article.
Batou Explorer also has an Exploration Trail on the left, which tracks how you have jumped from topic to topic to land on the current one. In other words, it’s keeping track of your journey down the rabbit hole.
4. Wikipedia Top 100 (Web): The 100 Most Popular Wikipedia Articles Every Day
The team at Hatnote is responsible for several interesting projects around Wikipedia, all of them available for free. One of its coolest mini-sites is Wikipedia Top 100, a daily updated list of the most-visited articles on Wikipedia on that day.
This snapshot of Wikipedia activity by users is a good way to discover what the world is reading about. Each article shows how many times it was viewed, and a streak for how many days it has been in the Top 100 (which can explain why it’s a popular read). Click the article, and you’ll most probably realize why it’s popular that day too, but even if you don’t, it’s a fun way to read something new.
You aren’t restricted to today’s date either and can browse the entire archives of Wikipedia Top 100 for every day of the calendar. Also, while the default is English Wikipedia, the Top 100 project is also available in several other languages.
If you like this project, you should also check out other Wikipedia projects by Hatnote. We’re particularly fond of Weeklypedia, a weekly newsletter featuring the most-changed articles of the week. It’s one of the best tools to discover interesting articles on Wikipedia.
5. Wikimap Wiki (Web): Browse Geo-tagged Wikipedia Articles on a World Map
There are several Wikipedia articles with geo-tags, especially regarding places of interest or unique landmarks. Wikimap Wiki collects all these to give a unique view of the world map to browse Wikipedia articles.
You can choose between a blank atlas, a satellite map, or no map at all. The geo-tagged articles appear as red triangles on the map of varying sizes. Click near any triangle to see the geotagged articles appearing as a small pop-up on the map. You can cycle through multiple articles in an area as well.
Wikimap Wiki also offers a nifty search feature, where you can search for a term, and all the results will appear as yellow triangles. You can then browse through these or use the built-in random article feature to land upon one of them. You can also perform multiple searches and pin them as layers on your map.
Don’t Forget the Wikipedia Homepage
Most of the time, we go to Wikipedia through a web search to find out more about some topic. But when was the last time you visited the Wikipedia homepage?
The homepage of Wikipedia is updated daily to give a few featured articles, featured picture, news events, and fun historical facts on this day. This oft-ignored section is a great place to find interesting things on Wikipedia, so check it out.
Wikipedia is full of useful information, but it also many weird things you can read about. Here’s a list of Wikipedia weirdness.
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