One Direction: The shock Wikipedia hit of 2012

Newly published statistics show the world’s population has very different interests when it comes to Wikipedia pages. While English speakers are interested in Facebook, Japanese speakers prefer adult films and German speakers are most intrigued by dead-end streets.

Swedish man Johan Gunnarson of the Wikitrends project has put together a list of the most viewed pages of 2012. On the English version of the site, the top spot went to Facebook. It was just ahead of a page titled “Wiki” that discusses the concept of user-edited pages rather than just Wikpedia itself.

Third place went to a list of people who died during 2012, while fourth went to a group of people who are very much alive: pop group One Direction. The Wikipedia user who wrote most of the first draft of the page said “I’m completely psyched. This article received 22,351,637 hits in 2012. My hands are shaking while writing this. I’m stunned.”

Music and movies proved particularly popular with The Avengers movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games also in the top 10.

The list also included pages about Google and the debate over Mayan prophecies that allegedly forecast the end of the world in 2012.

When it came to other languages, the popular pages varied widely, sometimes reinforcing and sometimes shattering national stereotypes. For example among Japanese readers the most popular page, by a three to one margin, was a list of adult movie performers. Meanwhile Germans were most interested in a page about sackgasse: streets that only have one entrance.

For several languages, patriotism appeared to play a big role: pages on Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Poland, Russia and Sweden topped the list for the Portuguese, Arabic, Persian, Polish, Russian and Swedish versions of Wikipedia respectively.

Other top spots were harder to explain. Dutch speakers were most interested in Hua Shan, a Chinese mountain, while the top choice among Italian speakers was Grey’s Anatomy.

Even among languages that mirrored the English top 10, there were some unusual results. For example, Spanish also had Facebook atop its list, with One Direction in third. However, its second spot went to a page looking at the @ symbol.

It should be noted the lists are based on the number of times each page was viewed, rather than the number of individual readers. That means that pages which are frequently updated or appeal to a very passionate or even obsessive audience may get a boost from repeat visitors.

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