Did you know that there is a Swiss political party that opposes the use of PowerPoint? What do some people believe that Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a similar one? Or that a museum in Taiwan has a stone that unusually resembles a piece of meat?

Probably not – unless you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who subscribe to @depthsofwikipedia. The Instagram account posts weird and amazing snippets from a huge online encyclopedia with crowdsourcing, including funny pictures (a chicken literally crosses the road) and small moments from history (Mitt Romney rides a few hours with his dog in the car). Some posts are useful – for example, Hatsuume, a Japanese word meaning the first dream of the year – while others are dangerous to work with (say, panda pornography).

22-year-old Ani Roverda started keeping score at the start of the pandemic when others were baking bread and learning to knit. “Everyone started projects, and it was my project,” she said.

At the time, she was a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Students are often discouraged from using Wikipedia as a source for academic work because most of its pages can be edited by anyone and may contain inaccurate information. But for Rauwerda, the site has always been more entertaining: hours of clicking one link after another, getting lost in rabbit burrows.

“Wikipedia is the best thing on the Internet,” Rauverda said in a telephone interview. “This is what the internet was supposed to be. He has a hacking spirit – to work together and do something. “

At first, only her friends watched the account. But it sparked a stir when Rauverda reported on the influential Caroline Calloway, who was upset that the post featured an old version of her Wikipedia page, which said her job was “nothing.” Roverda apologized, and Calloway later expanded the account on her Instagram.

Since then, Rauwerda has expanded @depthsofwikipedia to Twitter and TikTok. She sells goods (such as a coffee mug decorated with a picture from a Wikipedia entry for “bisexual lighting”) and ran a live show in Manhattan that featured trivia and a stand-up show.

Her followers often present her pages on Wikipedia, but nowadays it is difficult to find a record that will impress Roverda. “If it’s an interesting fact that was on the Reddit home page, I’m definitely not going to repost it,” she said. “For example, there are only 25 conductors in the world. I knew about it a long time ago, and a couple of days ago it went viral on Twitter. I was shocked. I said, “Everyone knows that.”

She is picky in many ways because many of her followers are hoping on @depthsofwikipedia to unearth the hidden gems of the internet.

“I just love learning, especially these amazing photos and things I could never find myself,” said Gabe Hockett, a 15-year-old high school student in Minneapolis. He said his favorite posts from the account include “The Most Unwanted Song” and “The Chicago Incident on the Dave Matthews River”.

22-year-old Jen Fox said that exchanging messages from the account with her boyfriend is a “special language of love.” It has also become a litmus test for membership. When Fox, a copywriter, moved to San Francisco in February, she mentioned the account to new people she met. If they were familiar with it, she said, “we would start writing to each other at DM and sharing our favorite posts that felt like we were really strengthening a specific friendship”. Fox even attended a @depthsofwikipedia meeting at a local brewery. “It’s a community behind it,” she said.

For Wikipedia fans it is nothing new to combine their passion for the platform. A Facebook group called Cool Freaks ’Wikipedia Club, founded eight years ago, has nearly 50,000 members who actively trade links.

Roverda’s account “makes less online,” said Heather Woods, an associate professor of rhetoric and technology at the University of Kansas. “It reduces the phenomenon of the rabbit hole by offering attractive – or sometimes hilarious unattractive – entry points into online culture.”

Zachary McCoon, brand director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which manages Wikipedia, said @depthsofwikipedia is an extension of the site’s engagement spirit. “It’s a place where Wikipedia comes to life, like a post-work tour of the best of Wikipedia,” McCoon said.

And since Wikipedia has more than 55 million articles, it is useful to have a directory like Rauwerda. She hopes visitors to her page will leave with new general knowledge. “I want you to see something that makes you stop and say,‘ Hmm, that’s interesting, ’” Roverda said. “Something that makes you rethink the world a little bit.”

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