This Instagram account dug up the weirdest things on Wikipedia
Karaoke rage deaths, sweater curses and the small penis rule: the strangest stuff on the internet courtesy of Instagram fave @depthsofwikipedia
Image via @depthsofwikipedia
Wikipedia is God. Launched on 15 January 2001, the digital encyclopedia exists in 300 languages around the world and literally contains everything you could ever need to know. Would any of us have made it through school essays if it weren’t for the wisdom contained within? Probably not. “Wikipedia is the best place on the internet,” says 21-year-old Annie Rauwerda. “It’s collaborative and constructive in a way that makes it feel like a vestige of a bygone Internet era. I get so excited when I remember that the sum of human knowledge is available for everyone, for free. Isn’t that exciting? It should be celebrated every day! Strangers online came together to organise all of the known information in the universe — for you!” Well, when you put it like that!
A longtime fan (she did a lot of wikiracing in middle school), during the first lockdown last spring, Annie found herself — as one often does — deep down several Wiki-holes. With nothing else to do, the Brooklyn-based Neuroscience student from Michigan decided to document the weird, wild and curious corners of the site she was uncovering. “I was surprised there wasn’t already an Instagram hub for weird Wikipedia articles, so I made the account one night. 160k people (including John Mayer) are very glad she did. It’s approaching one year now since Annie shared her first post as @depthsofwikipedia — one documenting the scientific research into how riding Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain helped patients pass their kidney stones — and over 400 posts later, she’s brought “Dicktown”, “chess on a really big board” and “cat nuns” into the lives of fans.
Annie typically spends about 10 hours a week running the account, both trawling Wiki for weirdness and wading through suggestions sent in by dedicated followers. “I get a lot of submissions these days, so I don’t hunt for articles in the wild quite as much, but I still stay busy in comments and stories and maintaining the operations of merch sales,” she tells us. About that — if you, too, are keen to get your favourite depthsofwikipedia post in mug form (with half of all proceeds helping to fund Wikimedia Education) you’re in luck.
If TikTok is more your bag, Annie shares highlights on there too. And if you’re struggling to manage your own incessant urge to consume bizarre content from the depths of websites, Annie recently teamed up with her best friend Hajin to create @depthsofamazon. As their bio clearly states, “posts ≠ endorsement of Amazon’s labor practices” — this is a safe place to chuckle at unhinged reviews without actually giving your time and money to the dark overlord of digital marketplaces.
Fascinated by her work, we asked Annie to compile and break down what she believes might just be the 10 weirdest things from the depths of Wikipedia. Find enlightenment below.
“There have been a number of deaths as a result of karaoke rage in the Philippines, including certain renditions of ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra that were so bad people resorted to murder.”
“I imagine it's like a layover that lasts for years. Motivations for living in the airports seem to range from 'ran out of money for a flight' to 'wanted to smoke and drink without his family bothering him’.”
“It's a metaphor for the challenges of human intimacy. As much as hedgehogs want to move close together, they must remain distant to avoid poking each other with their sharp spines. It sounds like quarantine.”
“When writers create characters inspired by someone in real life, this rule suggests they give the character a small penis in order to avoid libel lawsuits. The logic is that nobody would want to publicly say, ‘That character with the small penis is actually me’.”
“One actor, who played a character who died of a heart attack, died of a real heart attack between his scenes in a 1958 theatre performance. An 1897 Metropolitan Opera performer received a loud ovation after collapsing mid-performance, as the audience believed the event to be a stroke of brilliant acting. This article contains over a hundred more examples of bizarre occurrences like this.”
“This one is a classic, and it's exactly what it sounds like. The article is surprisingly long and I learn a bunch of new pope facts every time I revisit it.”
“Knitters hold a documented suspicion that knitting a sweater for a significant other will lead to the recipient breaking up with the knitter. Proposed solutions include waiting for marriage or starting with socks.”
“Certain pet owners have displayed the lax standards of diploma mills or otherwise fraudulent academic institutions by putting their dogs and cats through degree programs. Just because something looks like a diploma doesn't mean that someone has responsible training — there's a pug with a bogus MBA.”
“As recently as October 2020, a filter blocked the word 'bone' during an online palaeontology conference. Poorly-designed profanity filters have created all sorts of issues, and this article documents dozens of them.”
“In 20,000 years, only about one of every hundred core words will remain in use in future languages. The mind-boggling predictions continue all the way up to the proposed time for quantum efforts to generate a new Big Bang one trillion years from now.”