I contribute, like mon€y, and a very occasional edit, to the Wikipedia project. I can't remember how long I've been doing this, but it seemed only fair when I used to check the Main Page daily as a source of more or less random leads for The Blob. When I worked at The Institute we ranted at the students for citing Wikipedia in their essays , urging them to go to the primary source and cite that. But really that's rarely necessary because Wikipedia gives a quick, reliable and good enough answer most of the time. Nevertheless, it has it peculiarities and bias because the core group of active editors is by no means a random selection of humanity: lots of railways and far too much team sports imo.
I can do no better to illustrate this than by looking at Wikipedia:Vital Articles which defines importance at five Levels each of which is 10x larger than the higher Level. Level 3 aims to include 1,000 articles which is about the number of people you can readily put a name and face to. When my nautical Da, at the end of his career, was captain of a ship with a crew of 600, he knew all their face-names. I never achieved that level of recognition in my 600 strong secondary school. Vital Articles:Level 3 contains 113 biographies and I invite you have have a WTF!? critique of the choices after having [no peeking!] your own plunge at the task:
- 2.1.1 Leaders and politicians (27)
- 2.1.2 Religious figures (8)
- 2.1.3 Explorers (7)
- 2.1.4 Philosophers and social scientists (18)
- 2.1.5 Writers (11)
- 2.1.6 Artists (6)
- 2.1.7 Musicians and composers (6)
- 2.1.8 Scientists and inventors (19)
- 2.1.9 Mathematicians (8)
- 2.1.10 Filmmakers (2)
- 2.1.11 Businesspeople (1)
You'll be relieved to hear that neither Zuckerberg, Gates, Musk, Branson nor Smurfit is the 2.1.11 paragon of businesspeople. Just as an example of why them? let's look at the six most Vital Artists in all the World. They are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Hokusai, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo. That list reads like a pathetic attempt by a trainspotter from Peoria, Illinois to be "inclusive". Gotta have a non-Western token - so 葛飾 北斎 - and it looks depressingly dead white men so let's include a woman, any woman, so long as she's held a paint-brush. There are two women among the Scientists and you get null points for guess that one of them is <yaaaawn> Marie Curie.
Vital Articles:Level 4 [N = 10,000 Wikipedia articles] is currently getting a lot of who knew? attention because it is the hunting ground for a Wordle-like guess the blankdle quiz called Redactle. Try it?
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I've had moderate success on this, usually getting a score that is a good bit better than the Global Median. But I have to admit that on two recent puzzles Dau.II was twice as good as her Da at things scientific - so being an expert is not necessarily the best prediction of success. My best score ever came after seeing Out of ██████ (████) in the second paragraph and landing Meryl Streep in 3 guesses.
My worst, and below Median, score was 128 guesses not identifying Screw. I was really flailing around here, pursuing lexicographic chimaera: just about half my scattergun guesses yielded nil hits: 20th, agree, agreement, argument, arts, asia, attempt, author, background, band, beginning, believed, biography, brief, certainty, considered, conversation, cookery, created, culture, current, customs, dance, dentistry, depend, determine, discrete, elsewhere, equivalent, ethics, exact, exo, experts, explain, expose, felt, guess , humours, information, integrate, interaction, land, lay, logic, man, mathematics, measure, moment, musical, opt, painting, paragraph, physics, potted, puppet, reconcile, ring, sea, think, truth, way, wheels, write. I rather like the idea that you might also take more than 100 plunges to get to the truth but without doubt your null hits will be different from mine . . . even if we were identical twins separated at birth.
I gathered all my guesses for Redactles #21 - #29 into a spreadsheet. Discarded all the score 0 words as above [because that's just my "mind" cavorting about]. Then sorted the remaining ~350 words alphabetically. 50 of those have been successful in two or more different Redactles. That's the list to start the process when I start with No Clues. Those words are the interface between my mind and that of Dr Redactle; and include development, evolution, science and species. If the choice of the daily Redactle was random, this approach probably wouldn't work because there would be more Arts than Tech. The nerd-adjacent WEIRD hive-mind of Wikipedia will also lean that way when populating the list of 10,000 Level 4 Vital Articles.
But I'm retiring for a bit now: overwhelmed by feeling my brain throbbing into action. Here's my full fair-punt list: all, are, area, been, century, current, development, different, each, east, effect, end, Europe, evidence, evolution, example, examples, function, given, good, growth, has, history, life, made, many, material, middle, more, most, name, natural, non, normal, not, one, other, purpose, same, science, shown, similar, species, that, their, there, they, this, thus, war, west, world.