The Weekend Wikipedia Went "Brainfuck" Crazy

By Leslie Horn on at

Quartz has put together a neat interactive chart that shows the most popular Wikipedia entry on each day of 2014.

Most of them make sense, with articles corresponding with current events like the World Cup in June, or Joan Rivers when she died in early September. But there are some exceptions. Like on August 29th and 30th of last year, an idle Friday and Saturday, when the most-viewed entry was... brainfuck?

What in the hell is a brainfuck anyway? Let's turn to Wikipedia to find out, as so many others did during that fateful summer idyll:

Brainfuck is an esoteric programming language noted for its extreme minimalism. The language consists of only eight simple commands and an instruction pointer. It is designed to challenge and amuse programmers, and was not made to be suitable for practical use. It was created in 1993 by Urban Müller.

Minimalist esoteric programming language, got it! Now, why was brainfuck so bloody popular on the last weekend of August? Unclear. But it may have something to do with the way the data is measured. Quartz said it measured pageviews rather than unique visitors, which means it makes no distinction between the types of visitors stopping by a particular page. That means if there was a bot inadvertently hitting the page tens of thousands of times, that bot would be counted each time, rather than as a single visitor. Then again, the explanation might just be that the internet is a weird place, man.

There are some other random entries that don't make a lot of sense. For example, the biggest hit on December 16th on Wikipedia is Additive white Gaussian noise. Wikipedia says that's "a basic noise model used in Information theory to mimic the effect of many random processes that occur in nature."

September 7, for some reason is "Deck the Halls," a Christmas song; a bit early for Christmas songs, no? And for almost a week at the end of the summer, the most popular post was alliteration.

But for every day that seems to have a very weird top entry, there are a handful that are completely logical. May 1 is May Day. Doy! August 12, the day after Robin Williams died, is Robin Williams. It's an interesting way to look back at the past year and see what we, collectively, were looking for on every given day in the last year. Head over to Quartz to check it out in full. [Quartz]

Image by Kristina Alexanderson under Creative Commons license.