With more than 3.5 million articles on the English-language Wikipedia, it’s almost difficult to believe there could be much left to write. Although Wikipedia’s “hockey stick” growth has begun to slow down somewhat, the truth is that it still is growing very quickly—the English Wikipedia passed 3 million articles last August, and may well hit 4 million this year.
Indeed gaps do remain, and finding them can be a challenge. Now Magnus Manske, one of Wikipedia’s longest-active contributors (and the programmer of many different cool things) has created (actually, re-created after a long absence) a new DIY service called “Most wanted articles”.
Manske’s tool searches Wikipedia for “redlinks”. You’ve probably seen these around Wikipedia, and they are what they sound like: anchor text which is colored red because there is no article behind it. By contrast, links on Wikipedia that are colored blue will actually take you somewhere. Redlinks are sometimes considered unsightly, and they can be, if overused. Used selectively, they can highlight new subjects possibly deserving of new Wikipedia articles. Until that time comes—theoretically speaking—one can determine which are the “most wanted” by counting redlinks.
What follows is a list of the most-wanted Wikipedia articles, as of February 7, 2011:
- British films of 2011 (1842)
- British films of 2012 (1841)
- List of Argentine films of 2011 (1712)
- Bazinaprine (1204)
- Tetrindole (1203)
- Sercloremine (1203)
- Befol (1203)
- Esuprone (1134)
- Siddapur, Belgaum (1117)
- Milacemide (1059)
More than 1,000 redlinks for each of these topics? How did this happen? The answer is templates, especially “navboxes” which sit at the bottom of various articles, helping to group topics together. In each of the above-listed non-articles, redlinks to prospective articles have appeared in the following templates: Cinema of the UK, Cinema of Argentina, Dopaminergics and Belgaum district.
It might be more interesting to find out which articles were the most-wanted according to organically-created redlinks in article text, but that’s a bit more challenging; such a list may or may not be forthcoming. That said, the more of these articles created or otherwise dealt with, the closer we’ll get to those ones, further down the list.
And in fact, as I post this on February 13, 2011, the list has changed as some of these articles have been created—almost certainly based on discussion among Wikipedia editors about this list. The next time you find yourself looking for information about Bazinaprine, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor believed to be useful for the treatment of depression, then you have Manske (and of course the editor who took up the cause) to thank.