, , , ,

Wikipedia Taking Possession One of the most bothersome aspects of the en.Wikipedia main page Did You Know articles is how the editors wikilink the articles to other articles that contradict the DYK article, or aren’t the correct wikilink, or simply give you no clue what the DYK article is talking about. A wikilink is just an internal link in an article to another article. For example, if you are talking about the sea, you might link seawater in the sea article to an article on seawater. Or, you might link it to an article on salty water, a less specific article, since you are too lazy to check your wikilinks to make sure they are useful.

A big part of editing en.Wikipedia is the social networking; in fact, the social networking is far more important than accuracy in content creation as we are seeing when we attempt to get the correct information out of science articles (tunicates still “may” have notochords, according to en.Wikipedia’s DYK). One way of hooking into the social network is to create a DYK where a lot of readers click on the article when it is on the main page, being lured to the article by the hook, a catchy (sometimes) intriguing (occasionally) comment on the topic.

And, as part of the race to score social network points, en.Wikipedia editors keep score for number of page views. Because, after all, if you don’t have the background knowledge to attain quality or accuracy, quantity is the next best thing?

Let’s start with a recent Featured Article from hell, a truly monumental en.wiki wtf, that began its main page appearance as a DYK in April this year, then we’ll look at some wikilinking in 2013’s most clicked DYKs in the sciences.


“The sea, the world ocean, or simply the ocean, is the connected body of salty water that covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. … The word “sea” is also used to denote smaller, partly landlocked sections of the ocean.”

What’s a “body” of water? Body is wikilinked to “body of water.”

“The term body of water most often refers to large accumulations of water, such as oceans,seas, and lakes,”

And, sea is wikilinked to an article that tells us it “is the connected body of salty water that covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.”

Well, it can also be “also used to denote smaller, partly landlocked sections of the ocean.” So, if the smaller landlocked parts of the ocean are seas, but the ocean is the sea, what are “seas?” I look for “seas” plural and find that, actually, “seas” plural is “the plural of ‘sea.'”

Okay, seas are “partly landlocked, so, if I look at a sea, say, the North Sea, and find out it is a marginal sea, what does that mean?

Marginal sea

As an oceanographic term, marginal sea indicates a partially enclosed sea adjacent to or widely open to the open ocean at the surface, but bounded by submarine ridges on the sea floor.[1][clarification needed]

Don’t forget that Sea is the very best that en.Wikipedia has to offer:

Featured articles are considered to be the best articles Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. They are used by editors as examples for writing other articles. Before being listed here, articles are reviewed as featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria.”

Can we add internally consistent with other en.Wikipedia articles? Does anyone know what a sea is?

Even more problems with Sea, but lets move on to the rest of DYK, while noting that some of the en.Wikipedia editors suggested this was a problematic Featured Article and that some Wikipediocracy editors mocked the article prior to my post here.

DYK … that an estimated four million people worldwide suffer from podoconiosis?

Podoconiosis — viewed over 30,000 times while on the main page.

Podoconiosis is a disease of the lymph vessels of the lower extremities that is caused by chronic exposure to irritant soils. It is the second most common cause of tropical lymphedema after filariasis,[1] and is characterized by prominent swelling of the lower extremities, which leads to disfigurement and disability.

First of all, I want to know what an “irritant soil” is. It’s used a number of times in the article, but is never defined, and there is no en.Wikipedia article on it. I know what a soil is; let’s look up irritant, “A stimulus or agent which causes irritation,” reasonably leads us to the article on irritation.


“Irritation or exacerbation, in biology and physiology, is a state of inflammation or painful reaction to allergy or cell-lining damage. A stimulus or agent which induces the state of irritation is an irritantIrritants are typically thought of as chemical agents (for example phenol and capsaicin) but mechanical, thermal (heat), and radiative stimuli (for example ultraviolet light or ionising radiations) can also be irritants.”

Okay, an “irritant soil” is a soils that causes “irritation or a state of inflammation.” And, “the primary symptom of podoconiosis is swelling and disfigurement of the lower extremities.[2] I think I got it; podoconiosis is an inflammation of the lower extermities caused by exposure to inflammation causing soils.

Let’s clicklywikilink!

Tropical lymphedema — (or rather wikilinked to Elephantiasis)

“is a disease that is characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, … caused by filariasis or podoconiosis.[2]

So, Podoconiosis “is a disease … caused by chronic exposure to irritant soils … and is the second most common cause of tropical lymphedema,” which is “a disease that is characterized by the thickening of the skin … and caused by … podoconiosis.”

So, Podoconiosis is a disease that causes the disease Elephantiasis. Got it. Except that apparently, WHO does distinguishes between non-filarial podoconiosis  elephantiasis and filiarial elephantiasis. Whatever, we’re so confused internally, it seems pushy to move external.

But on soils WHO is more help, “Evidence suggests that podoconiosis is the result of a genetically determined abnormal inflammatory reaction to mineral particles in irritant red clay soils derived from volcanic deposits.” Also, this source is informative, but possibly written at too high of a level for the en.Wikipedia editors to use it much. Also, come on, let’s start with some disease basics. It’s non-infectious. There may be a genetic component.

Next up on the list is some cultural geology.

Did you know… that in order to save the Rollstone Boulder (pictured) from being demolished, it was blown up?

Rollstone Boulder  — viewed over 28,000 times while on the main page.

The Rollstone Boulder is a ten-foot-tall, 110-ton porphyritic granite[1] glacial erratic located on a traffic island in downtown FitchburgMassachusetts. The boulder, originally located at the summit of Rollstone Hill, was exploded and reassembled near Fitchburg’s Upper Common in 1929.

This seems harmless; it’s a boulder; it’s a porphyritic granite, a type of rock that quite a few ninth grades could identify with accuracy; and it’s a glacial erratic, again, send out the ninth graders. The rock ID is tied to an historical society meeting in 1971, though. Rock identifications for encyclopedia articles should generally be tied to geology article, and probably later than 1971 is better. However, rock descriptions are robust, and older ones coupled with modern interpretations are fine. En.Wikipedia minerals articles frequently cite http://www.mindat.org, and that website cites a number of sources saying the rock is a porphyritc quartz monzonite. Still, close, even if it may be wrong.

I suspect though, that if it were indeed “exploded and reassembled near Fitchburg’s Upper Common” rather than exploded at the top of the hill and reassembled near the common, it was a complete waste of black powder.

What’s next? A bug! Who doesn’t love bugs? But, wait, first an older, really funny, and brilliant, DYK April Fools DYK.

Did you know … that researchers have identified the pictured life form which no longer lives on this planet?

Termitaradus mitnicki  — viewed over 26,000 times while on the main page.

Did I know what? Did I know that researchers identified an extinct animal? Another en.wiki wtf moment courtesy of those clowns at en.Wikipedia. “Researchers” is wikilinked to paleontology, those studiers and identifiers of extinct organisms. Please comment if you figure out how this is funny.

Did you know … that Carmenelectra was named after the model (pictured) because both have “splendid” bodies?

Carmenelectra  — viewed over 25,000 times while on the main page

“Carmenelectra is an extinct genus of fly belonging to the family Mythicomyiidae and containing a single species Carmenelectra shechisme.”

This should be easy, “extinct” just means gone; this is an insect known only from the Tertiary. What could go wrong here? Boldly I go where, probably, no en.Wikipedia DYK editor has gone before, to the wikilinked article on Extinction.


In biology and ecologyextinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms (taxon), normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, … Because a species’ potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly “re-appears” (typically in the fossil record) after a period of apparent absence.

It seems rather tricky to define the extinction of a Tertiary species; with so few individuals known it would seem that paleontologists might have some other means than identifying the death of the last known individual. Well, they do; they talk about the fossil’s appearance in the paleontological record.

In fact, from the article, it appears this species is known from just one specimen. Also, you know, although the author uses the term “Tertiary,” according to Wikipedia that’s not popularly used so much anymore. How about “Eocene?” And today there is another species of the genus that has been identified. Could the article be updated?

Let’s look at the examples of Lazarus taxa in this article, things that reappear in the fossil record.

Extinct article, Lazarus taxa section examples of Lazarus taxa include the Coelacanth, a fish with two extant species, the Tasmanian Tiger, or Thylacine, that is probably, but not necessarily extinct and has not been recovered anew in the fossil record, the Japanese Wolf, or wolves, as there are two extinct wolf subspecies with this common name, with unverified sightings after their turn-of-the-20th centuries extinctions, but, again, not from the fossil record, and the  Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, again probably extinct, but not abruptly reappearing in the fossil record, but all of “which may turn out still to exist.”


From the en.Wikipedia article it appears to be a family of extant fly genera. Maybe the extinct ones could be marked as only known from the fossil records, that fossil record being, of course, different from the fictitious one within which the Coelacanth reappeared.

What’s next among the goodies with wikilinks from en.Wikipedia’s main page bad science menu?

Did you know … that while North Korea is abundant in natural resources worth trillions of dollars, most of these often cannot be mined due to the acute shortage of electricity in the country?

Did you know that not all natural resources are mined? Some are cut, some are harvested, some are fished?

Mining in North Korea  — viewed over 50,000 times while on the main page.

Mining in North Korea is important to the country’s economy. North Korea is naturally abundant in metals such magnesitezinctungsten, and iron; with magnesite resources of 6 billion tonnes (second largest in the world), particularity in the Hamgyeong-do and Jagang-do provinces. However, often these cannot be mined due to the acute shortage of electricity in the country, as well as the lack of proper tools to mine these materials and an antiquated industrial base.[1] Coal, iron ore, limestone, and magnesite deposits are larger than other mineral commodities. Mining joint ventures with other countries include ChinaEgypt, and South Korea. China is North Korea’s leading trade partner for minerals (twenty mining projects reported), followed by South Korea and Brazil.[2]

The article, it seems, is not going on about mining natural resources; it is about mining minerals. A bit of a disconnect between what the article says and what the en.Wikipedia editors think it says is not unexpected when they editors appear to have so little fundamental knowledge of the topics they write about. In fact, it is somewhat comforting, is it not, that they read their own articles as poorly as they read their sources?

Maybe mining means something different on en.Wikipedia? They are redefining taxonomy and evolutionary biology to fit the limited educations of their editors, this might be the case with economic geology, also?


“Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth from an orebodylodeveinseam, or reef, which forms the mineralized package of economic interest to the miner.”

No, seems they are not talking about forests. Let’s check out natural resources.

Natural resource

“Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems.”

And, examples of how to extract natural resources, since that paragraph is hardly useful:

“Examples of extractive industries are hunting andtrappingminingoil and gas drilling, and forestry.”

It seems that not even en.Wikipedia says that mining is the only way to extract natural resources; it’s the way to extract a specific type of abiotic natural resource according to their article.

I wonder what this sentence means:

“Coal, iron ore, limestone, and magnesite deposits are larger than other mineral commodities.”

It is unsourced, so I don’t know. The iron ore deposits are larger than other iron ore commodities?

One more.

Devil’s Cigarette Lighter

“The Devil’s Cigarette Lighter was a natural gas well fire at Gassi Touil in the Sahara Desert of Algeria. Ignited on November 6, 1961, the Phillips Petroleum Company-owned well produced more than 6,000 cubic feet (170 m3) of natural gas per second, whose flame rose between 450 feet (140 m) and 800 feet (240 m). The flame was seen from orbit by John Glenn[1][2] during the flight ofFriendship 7 on February 20, 1962. The blowout and fire were estimated to have consumed enough gas to supply Paris for three months, burning 550,000,000 cubic feet (16,000,000 m3) per day.[3][4]

This article is playing it safe by simply not wikilinking to other articles.

Let’s talk about the sea. It is apparently the world ocean, a connected body of salty water that covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, or smaller, “partly landlocked sections of the ocean.” But, a “body of water” leads us to believe that it refers to “oceans, seas, and lakes” in the plural, when the article on the is emphasizing the singular, and, in that article the plural word “seas” is wikilinked back to “sea” the singular huge body of water covering “over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.” What about the fully landlocked things we call seas, like the Caspian? Does en.Wikipedia call these lakes? The do touch upon the discrepancy a bit. And what is “partly landlocked?” Is the North Sea partly landlocked? Or is it a marginal sea that is “partially enclosed,” and what’s the difference between “partly landlocked,” which appears to be an oxymoron, and “partially enclosed?” Is it a matter of degree? It is ridiculous? Is it clear?

Seas in the plural, is the plural of sea singular, and sea singular can refer to the individual seas, but in en.Wikipedia it means the world ocean, and not the seas individual, so what should the article about all the seas of the world, the individual, partly landlocked bodies of water?

Articles are wikilinked to articles that contradict it; click, click, click through the confusing very best of what en.Wikipedia has to offer, if you dare.

Podoconiosis is a disease that is the second most common cause of another disease, elephantiasis, that is caused by podoconiosis. Except that according to the World Health Organization, podoconiosis is non-filarial, and elephantiasis is filarial elephantiasis. We don’t mention that it’s a non-infectious disease; we use an unusual term that has no article and no explanations. Is clicking wikilinks helping yet?

We have a geology article tied to 19th century geology when newer geological resources that are used extensively on en.Wikipedia contradict it. So, is wikilinking the internal bad science any help?

A blast back into the past on the list. A really really funny bug April Fools joke on en.Wikipedia’s main page. I laughed. Well, no, I didn’t. I was just perplexed as to what anyone found amusing.

A fly! Oh joy; and it is an extince one; and the article takes us to an internally inconsistent article on extinction that uses terms wrong and can’t give examples of what it mentions. The fly family, however, contains only extant genera, or no real idea within the text that any particular genus is extant or extinct. Didn’t help to click that wikilink.

Next we learn that forestry is a type of mining, but when we get to the mining article, after clicking on the main page wikilink to that Mining in North Korea article, we find not one single mention of natural resources in general; it’s all about mining.

Then we find the proper way to wikilink science within an en.Wikipedia article: don’t. It’s much safer.

En.Wikipedia is not crowd-sourcing information; they are crowd-sourcing a tangled up bunch of unrelated, contradictory, and wrong pieces of information randomly extracted and often plagiarized from sources of varying caliber, relevance, and accuracy. The collages are being created by editors with no background knowledge in the most fundamental aspects of science. They are randomly wikilinking to other articles without reading them because, it appears, they can’t read them, but they also contradict each other.

How is this a success?