In mid 90’s Microsoft announced a project called – Encarta. It was an encyclopedia inform of books and cd, that would have information about everything. The company knew what they were doing and how to do it. They had all the resources. But things doesn’t work out for them. And in 2009 Microsoft closed the entire project.
Few years after the launch of Microsoft’s Encarta- Jimmy Wales announced a similar project – a web encyclopedia. It was free and anyone can contribute by creating an account. But unlike Microsoft they neither had a staff nor the resource. Their success was doubtful.
And today it’s know as Wikipedia- world largest encyclopedia.
Why is Wikipedia succeeded but Encarta fail ?
Even after many odds, Wikipedia become popular but a promising product like Encarta failed miserably. Why ? Well there were many reasons. For instance- since wiki pages can be created and edited by anyone, Wikipedia has large variety of updated topics. And off course it’s free.
And the rest is history. Since we are using Wikipedia everyday, it make sense to use it effectively. And in this article, we will go through some Wikipedia tips & tricks to get more out of it.
1. Make Wikipedia’s article simple
Yesterday, I was going through couple of wiki pages like ‘theory of relativity’, ‘Schizophrenia’ etc. But everything went over my head. The complex terms use in the article made it difficult to understand. I wanted to know the actual concept, in plain and simple English.
If you face the same problem of complicated jargon, then simply replace the en with simple in the url and press enter. For instance –
[Before] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia [After] simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia
This will load a new wiki page of same article, which is free of all clutter and written in easy understandable English. As simple as that.
2. Better way to save Wiki’s Pages
People like to save Wikipedia’s article for offline usage. For instance- you may want to read them while traveling in a plane, when you don’t have internet access.
And hopefully everyone knows how to save pages- you right-click on a webpage and select the ‘save as’ option. This will save the page as html fiel in your computer. If you are little advance user, then you will hit CTRL+P on chrome and save the page as PDF file. But Wikipedia’s build-in ‘save as pdf’ (can be found in right side of each wiki article) option is much better. Why ?
Well because it solves 2 problem. First the pfd being a single file is more easy to use (not the case if you save webpage as html) and second the output pdf file is free of all clutter and hyperlinks, thus making it print friendly.
If you are doing research and wants to save wikipedia article, then click on the ‘create a book’ option on left side of the page. With this you can first compile all the articles together and then downloaded their printable version.
3. Quickly lookup a word on Wikipedia
We often find ourself in a situation when, we come across a new word, celebrity, company, place etc. And the first thing we do is we Google it and then click on Wikipedia link. But thats too much work. Right?
The solution is using a chrome plugin called Lookup Companion for Wikipedia. After installing the extension, you will notice a small wikipedia symbol on chrome toolbar with a popup search box. Simple copy paste the search term there and it will look it up in wikipedia but inside the same browser. Saves a lot of time.
4. Discover cool places while traveling
Like Google easter’s egg, Wikipedia also offer ‘special pages’. And one of my favorite one is Nearby. Click on this wiki link and it will triangulate your location using your device ip address. Then it will show you wiki pages, that are near you location.
This is helpful if you are traveling to a new place and want to explorer nearby landmarks. You can even surprised your friends, by telling them a fact or two about your new discovery.