Wikipedia needs no introduction. It was started in 2001, collaboratively developed by the community of volunteers, which now has 70000 active members world wide. With 30 million articles written in 287 languages it is one of the biggest website.

Not only the content is accessible to everyone. On you can find links to database dumps, and page view statistics.

The questions is: Can we use those logs to tell something about people? Is it possible to identify trending topics? And if something is happening in the real world, is Wikipedia a source to read about that?

House of Cards

Let’s start with the House of Cards series. This article on Wikipedia became very popular when new seasons were published (February 2013 and February 2014). You can see that Kevin Spacey’s page popularity matches House of Cards pattern.

Number of page views for House of Cards and Kevin Spacey articles

Crimea crisis

Let’s have a look at the following articles: Crimea, Ukraine and Vladimir_Putin. We can see those page views reaching high values in March, when the Crimea crisis took place. Note that Putin’s article has also some other peaks (i.e. related to Winter Olympics in Sochi in Febrauary 2014). Also trend for Ukraine article reveals some other events (from mass demonstrations in November 2013 to overthrowing the president in February 2014).

Number of page views for Crimea related articles

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela passed away in December 2013. Funeral ceremony was mentioned all over the world and his page on Wikipedia reached the highest number of visits.

Number of page views for Nelson Mandela related articles

The examples shown above suggest that events happening in the real world are accompanied by increased page view numbers on Wikipedia of related articles. In this cases it was obvious, but it can be interesting to look for trending topics on Wikipedia to discover something not trivial about the world and people.

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