Wikipedia can be a great source of information on a range of topics. The user generated universe is infinite and the people that contribute and seek information within this exchange have created one of the most vibrant information communities I have seen in my lifetime. But, I wonder, "What specifically do people tend to use Wikipedia for?"
As you would expect many of the top subjects relate to current events and cultural phenomena. For the month of April some of the top subjects included "Don Imus", "Virginia Tech massacre", "global warming", "Naruto" (a Japanese comic and anime TV series) and "Sanjaya Malakar" of American Idol fame.
In addition to these predictable terms, there was a substantial volume of sexual terms. Apparently Bobby’s parents forgot to have the Birds & Bees talk with their son"¦as did the parents of Billy, Johnny, Julie, Tommy and Susie. Wikipedia is essentially an encyclopedia, so one would assume these searches are for research and learning purposes — a virtual Kama Sutra of sorts.
We categorized the top 100 Wikipedia terms for April into six general categories to figure out what the major search themes are on Wikipedia. As you would expect the greatest number of searches (28%) are within the research category. This includes terms like "Columbine High School massacre" and "American Civil War."
The two surprising categories are Anime and Sex:
There is a tremendous amount of interest in learning about Pokemon and Naruto. Perhaps these are parents who want to know what their kids are going crazy over. My Mom didn’t know what “He-Man” was until I was a grown man reflecting on how silly Castle Grayskull was. My mom could have used Wikipedia in the 80’s.
What’s interesting about the top sex related terms on Wikipedia is that they do not appear to have gratuitous intent. The top terms include very straightforward inquiries on human reproductive "˜parts’ and basic concepts of what sex is and how it is performed. It appears many people are learning about what sex is and how to have it by referencing Wikipedia.