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March 26, 2007

Why People Link to Wikipedia


The main reason behind Wikipedia's high ranking in Google search is that people link to Wikipedia articles. It may seem strange that people choose to link to Wikipedia instead of other sites, but the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" has many selling points:

1. Wikipedia articles have a lot of content and people like to link to pages that consist mostly on text. There's a lot of information structured in a consistent way and that makes most of the articles valuable.

2. Wikipedia articles have an accessible language. Even if you're not familiar with a domain, you can understand the basic things and it's easy to learn more.

3. Why shall I link to the Wikipedia page for "Ask a Ninja" instead of the homepage of the videoblog? Because the Wikipedia page start with "Ask A Ninja is an award-winning series of comedy videos about the image of ninjas in popular culture", while the homepage shows the latest videos. There's more context in Wikipedia.

4. Wikipedia pages are more objective than other sites because they don't try to sell products or ideas, they only explain what is all about and include criticism. Another selling point is that Wikipedia doesn't have ads.

5. A Wikipedia article is constantly updated, so you can say it's never finished. You're more likely to link to a page that will be still fresh next year.

6. Wikipedia is already familiar to many people, so you treat as and old friend that has answers for most of your questions. You don't trust other sites enough to link to them, it's hard to decide which one deserves this honor, so you link to Wikipedia.

7. You treat Wikipedia as a free-style dictionary that has entries for a lot of things. So when you need to explain something you link to the extended dictionary.

8. If you link to a Wikipedia article, you don't need to link to other sites because the external links from that article are very good or at least good enough.

9. You've already found a lot of interesting things from Wikipedia so you tend to trust it and recommend it to others.

10. Wikipedia pages compile a lot of disparate information from different sites, so they're a good reference point for someone who wants an overview on a topic.

23 comments:

  1. I believe it would be much better to link to the permanent version of the Wikipedia article at the time you are linking to it. The article may change over time, and a webpage in 2007 made in 2005 may have linked to a Wikipedia article that would seem up-to-date at the time, but would be largely inconsistent with the page's content in 2007.

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  2. AND people keep linking to wikipedia because it shows up at the top of search results. (and what you said, nice commentary.)

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  3. For those of you in countries where free speech is taken for granted, keep in mind that Wikipedia is blocked in China. For that matter, this blog and all other blogger.com blogs are also blocked here.

    Thanks to the guys at Tor who made this comment possible!

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  4. greatfirewallofchina.org promises to tell you if a site is blocked in China.

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  5. Not surprisingly, greatfirewallofchina.org is also blocked here. Not that I need that service here - the "connection timed out" message every time I click on a Wikipedia or BBC link does the same job. It's an interesting site for those outside of China to get an idea of the extent of this government's control, though. Totalitarianism sucks, and the government protects itself through censorship. (back on topic with gratuitous Wikipedia link)

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  6. We decided to link to Wikipedia because of the quality we found there - if we talk about "mature" articles. There is a lot of background discussions and different versions so somebody who is really interested into a topic can digg very deep, see all different perspectives and can even start contributing.

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  7. It seems to me that wikipedialinks don't expire so often. The topic url remains the same for a very long time.

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  8. I still link to wikipedia quite often (mostly for the same reasons listed above) but these days it tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth after the whole nofollow decision.

    But alot of the time I dont link directly to them anyways, instead i use citebite so I can deeplink to the relevant piece of information within the article.

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  9. I don't know about others, but I link to wikipedia for 3 main reasons:
    1]Wikipedia articles contain all the necessary information on one page itself
    2]You can read each page independently. What I mean is that you can start reading and understanding about your topic from anywhere. You do not need to know any background or any jargon. If any jargon is used, it is conveniently linked too
    3]The articles usually remain up to date, and if you read my blog after say 2 years, and then go to the wikipedia article, you can see how the information has changed, and how that topic has evolved.

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  10. Wikipedia is a trap. You never know if information is accurate or has been put there by some paid lobbyist. A link set now to a good article can promote an evil one tomorrow.

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  11. Yeah, the fairy tale of "free information". The price you pay is your sanity. There is hardly any site on the net with so much trash on it. Problem is, it comes along looking nice and dry and seemingly "accurate".

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  12. You didn't include my #1 reason to link to Wikipedia: because articles are democratically created, so those who disagree with the content of your linked page can simply change it themselves. I think this solves the problem of managing "the page you linked to contains XZY which is incorrect".

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  13. I often link to Wikipedia. Their content are written by people like me, and thus I often find what I am looking for.

    Just remember to add rel=nofollow when you link to Wikipedia :)

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  14. The information I have found on Wikipedia has been better than any I have found elsewhere. It is clearly written. Not like the academic bullshit that makes you go to sleep that unfortunatly can be found elsewhere.
    It has been precise, to the point and informative, ranking the most interesting at the top and the leave the rest at the bottom.
    Just perfect - where I have been.

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  15. wow! Wikipedia is blocked in china?!
    I'm defiantly not going there

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  16. Wikipedia is like a mousetrap-whomever tries to redesign articles in certain divisions or contacts certain Wikipedia editors better be extremely careful-pop=up editors begin appearing from almost nowhere and accuse people of vandalizing. Making matters worse, somebody accuses you of sock puppet behavior and blocks you extensively and indefinite. Mark my words-she's DANGEROUS!

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  17. Wikipedia is not blocked in China! I live here and I'm looking at it right now. I also link to it from my Squidoo lens http://www.squidoo.com/images-of-china

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  18. Wikipedia is a good first step to find what a topic is all about - CONTEXT. Do people color the information? Yes, so do TV channels!

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  19. I think that wikipedia is an excellent source of reference as they provide all the references in one place at the bottom.

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  20. Wikipedia is a great web tool.
    I am currently working on video encyclopedia www.encyclopediachannel.com

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  21. Wikipedia's content is checkled by many editors on a regular basis therefore is more accurate than any printed source of information could be. Also, whilst many spammers are frustrated at their 'no follow' policy this ensures quality and respect.

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  22. if anyone can tell me how to link my articles to wikipedia for better search engine ranking id be extremely grateful.
    I write medical articles and want my name higher in the searches.
    my email is drlesbailey@yahoo.co.uk
    PS im a bit of an internet dinosaur, so the simpler the better ::))))

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