The greatest thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can write an article, even for topics that the stuffy old Encylopaedia Brittanica would not put in between its dusty pages. Here are some of the most wonderfully weird Wikipedia pages.
Toilet Paper Orientation
It’s a controversy that’s older than time, and has inspired more fights than even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: which way to hang the toilet paper, over or under? This article has collected extensive arguments in favor of either side. This is seriously one of the most complete and well-sourced of the articles on Wikipedia. It even cites famed computer scientist Donald Knuth. Yes, that’s the Donald Knuth of “The Art of Computer Programming.”
No, this isn’t a typo for “American,” Noam Chomksy fans. If you’ve been on the Internet for a while, chances are you’ve heard of the concept of micronations. The best known is the Republic of Molossia, as made famous by That Guy with the Glasses. But there is a whole community of eccentric individuals who claim their residences as sovereign nations. The Aerican Empire, founded in 1987 by Montreal, Canada resident Eric Lis, might be the most ambitious, claiming territories as diverse as a house in Montreal, Canada (“The Embassy to Everywhere Else”) other properties on Earth, and even the northern hemisphere of Pluto. As with a lot of micronation projects, it’s difficult to tell how serious the Empire is.
You’ve probably seen lots of heavy metal bands like Mötley Crüe and Mötorhead adds umlauts to their names to sound tough. Wikipedia devoted an entire article to it, and once again, it’s very complete and well-researched. But Spinal Tap probably takes the cake, adding an umlaut to the “n” in the name, which isn’t even a vowel. These umlauts go to eleven!
Thinking About the Immortality of the Crab
This colorful phrase comes from a Spanish idiom for daydreaming. One user was so inspired by the idiom he made a comic out of the Wikipedia article you see above.
This water park in New Jersey operating the the 1980s and ’90s became infamous for the large number of injuries it generated, leading to it being nicknamed “Traction Park.” The insane looping waterslide seen on the article page above typified the park’s lax safety culture, dominated by poorly trained, minimum-wage employees and inebriated guests. Instead of fixing their rides or enforcing their own safety regulations, the park just bought the town of Vernon more ambulances to keep up with the “demand” they were creating.
Wallsend Metro Station
One thing that sets Wikipedia apart from other encyclopedias is that since anyone can edit it, it’s easy to accumulate detail from people obsessed about things like trains. At first, an article about a train station might not be that interesting, but the Wallsend Metro Station in England is distinctive for being the only one with signage in Latin.
Speaking of metal umlauts, a certain SNL sketch involving a famous track by Blue Öyster Cult got its own article. Sure, Will Ferrell was hilarious, but did the sketch really need its own page? Wikipedia editors thought so, and that’s good enough for me. I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more Wikipedia!
This parody of conspiracy theories postulates that the city of Bielefeld, Germany doesn’t exist and anyone who insists it does is part of Them. The theory takes the form of three questions that illustrate the logical fallacies that drive these kinds of theories:
- Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
- Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
- Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
Most people would answer no. For Americans, it’s similar to the idea that there’s no such place as Idaho (which I’ve actually been to, or have I?). Some people do take the conspiracy theory seriously, though. The Bielefeld mayor’s office apparently receives phone calls every day doubting the city’s existence.
School Bus Yellow
Many Americans are accustomed to seeing yellow school buses on the roads. They have a distinctive shade of yellow? Distinctive enough for the color to be named “School Bus Yellow.” Ironically, since the color was designed for visbility to keep kids safe, the pigment for the paint contained decidedly kid-unfriendly lead.
Let’s trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle
Kim Jong Il may be gone, but Wikipedia readers can still pay tribute to the dearly departed North Korean dictator by checking out an article on a piece of propaganda telling comrades to get a haircut or risk having their long hair drain their energy. (By the way, hair is actually dead, so that can’t happen.)
Of course, with the amount of content Wikipedia has, any attempt to have a definitive guide is bound to fail. If you want even more weird Wikipedia articles, check out their own extensive list of unusual articles. What are your favorite weird Wikipedia articles?
Don’t miss our list of the 7 Creepiest Wikipedia Articles, as well as the 10 Wierdest Headlines of 2011.