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6 Degrees of Wikipedia

A researcher at Trinity College Dublin has software that lets users map the links between Wikipedia pages. His Web site is called “Six Degrees of Wikipedia,” modeled after the trivia game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Instead of the degrees being measured by presence in the same film, degrees are determined by articles that link to each other.

For example, how many clicks through Wikipedia does it take to get from “Gatorade” to “Genghis Khan”? Three: Start at “Gatorade,” then click to “Connecticut,” then “June 1,” then “Genghis Khan.”

Stephen Dolan, the researcher who created the software, has also used the code to determine which Wikipedia article is the “center” of Wikipedia—that is, which article is the hub that most other articles must go through in the “Six Degrees” game. Not including the articles that are just lists (e.g., years), the article closest to the center is “United Kingdom,” at an average of 3.67 clicks to any other article. “Billie Jean King” and “United States” follow, with an average of 3.68 clicks and 3.69 clicks, respectively.

More detailed information can be found on Mr. Dolan’s Web site.—Catherine Rampell

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