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How to Use Wikipedia When You’re Watching the Olympics
What you need to know if you plan to use Wikipedia’s information as a second screen (like we all will).
Riddle me this: Michael Phelps came in first. Simone Biles was second. Aly Raisman and Katie Ledecky were fifth and sixth, respectively. Hint: The answer is not medal counts. Nor is it G.O.A.T. athlete status. Nope, those were the rankings of the most visited pages on English Wikipedia for the week of Aug. 7, 2016, during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Phelps’ page received the most traffic that week with more than 5.4 million page views while Biles, Raisman, and Ledecky received more than 4.25 million page views, collectively.
On Friday, and despite much controversy, the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games officially opened. Although some aspects will be quite different—like the fact that the venues are largely without spectators—there will be similar opportunities to engage with the Games via the internet. Once again, millions of people are expected to consult the free Wikipedia biographies available for the athletes.
Even if you don’t visit Wikipedia directly, information from the internet encyclopedia filters out to the broader internet. Googling “Simone Biles” reveals a Google Knowledge panel that is sourced directly from Wikipedia. Likewise, asking Alexa about Biles will prompt the smart speaker to read a summary from her Wikipedia page. In other words, these Big Tech companies are serving up Wikipedia’s free info with the same relentless consistency that NBC blasts the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” before commercials.
But what should readers know if they’re accessing Wikipedia as a second screen during the Olympic Games?
In the spirit of the Olympic games… a race!
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