Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parenthesis or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at "Philosophy". - Randall Munroe, XKCD 903: Extended Mind (mouse-over text)

I have tried this for several different articles and was surprised to find that it worked, but it seems highly improbable that this could be true for all 4,301,123 articles. Is the claim true?

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    Philosophy, itself leads to "Word", "Universe", "Entity", and then "Philosophy". – user14079 Oct 2 '13 at 10:17
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    Disproven. There are more than 500 articles which do not obey this. – user14079 Nov 17 '13 at 13:40
up vote 66 down vote accepted

No.

But, many do. This was first reported by a Wikipedia user, Mark J, when he created the first version of Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy on May 29, 2008. It was later popularized by xkcd.

As per Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy:

As of May 26, 2011, 94.52% of all articles in Wikipedia lead eventually to the article Philosophy. The rest lead to an article with no wikilinks or with links to pages that do not exist, or get stuck in loops. There have been some theories on this phenomenon, with the most prevalent being the tendency for Wikipedia pages to move up a "classification chain." According to this theory, the Wikipedia Manual of Style guidelines on how to write the lead section of an article recommend that the article should start by defining the topic of the article, so that the first link of each page will naturally take the reader into a broader subject, eventually ending in wide-reaching pages such as Mathematics, Science, Language, and of course, Philosophy, nicknamed the "mother of all sciences".

Here is another analysis. And here is another.

The failure cases are split fairly evenly between closed loops not containing Philosophy and chains ending in dead-ends (articles that don't exist, or have been deleted).

One example loop is Waste management -> Waste collection -> Waste management.

The Philosophy article itself is part of a loop: Philosophy -> Reality ->Existence -> Definition -> Meaning_(Linguistic) -> Linguistics -> Science -> Knowledge -> Fact -> Proof_(truth) -> Necessity_and_Sufficiency -> Logic -> Reason -> Consciousness -> Quality_(philosophy) -> Property_(Philosophy) -> Modern Philosophy -> Philosophy. Any of these articles would be equally good choices for highlighting this attraction.

  • 39
    That's great, we just have to edit 236,000 articles to make the claim true! – travisbartley Aug 9 '13 at 5:17
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    @trav1s, surely much less, if you edit pages linked from many others. – ugoren Aug 9 '13 at 6:48
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    Why would "Philosophy" be the best article in this regard? At the moment, the process described leads from "Philosophy" to (first link) "Reality". So it would seem that the article "Reality" is at least as good at attracting, under this process. So isn't it actually better? The answer turns out to be no. From "Philosophy" this process takes us into a cycle that eventually leads back to "Philosophy". So all articles in this cycle are equally good at attracting. – Jeppe Stig Nielsen Aug 9 '13 at 8:24
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    Philosophy does lead to philosophy: Philosophy -> Reality ->Existence -> Definition -> Meaning_(Linguistic) -> Linguistics -> Science -> Knowledge -> Fact -> Proof_(truth) -> Necessity_and_Sufficiency -> Logic -> Reason -> Consciousness -> Quality_(philosophy) -> Property_(Philosophy) -> Modern Philosophy -> Philosophy – Bakuriu Aug 9 '13 at 11:30
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    If we exclude redlinks, the percentage would be even higher. So the answer might well be "almost, but no" – vsz Aug 9 '13 at 12:39

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