December means an onslaught of year-end lists from tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and so on, all trying to put a finger on what made customers tick in 2012. But one unofficial tabulation -- the most-visited Wikipedia articles of the past 12 months -- may tell us as much about how people use Google as about how they use the free online encyclopedia.
Johan Gunnarsson, a software engineer from Sweden, independently crunched the numbers to determine the 10 most popular Wikipedia entries for 35 language editions, as first pointed out by the blog AllThingsD. What do the stats reveal?
At first glance, Gunnarsson's list is a snapshot of pop culture: Boy band One Direction is there, along with blockbusters "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises," as well as hit books series The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey, plus the landing page for apocalypse prophesies.
But most interesting are the entries for Facebook and "Wiki" (defined via its Wikipedia entry as "a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content"), which take the top two spots on the list. We find it likely that those received most of their page views after people Googled "Facebook" or "Wiki" with the intention of calling up either facebook.com or wikipedia.org in the search results. That scenario is bolstered by the fact that "Facebook" has been the most searched-for one-word phrase for the past four years, according to one marketing firm's research. It's a lesson in how reliant we've become on Google to navigate the web. Instead of bookmarking our favorite websites, or simply typing in their URLs, Google is the main thoroughfare for reaching every other destination on the web.
Of course, there's another explanation for Facebook and Wiki's popularity. “It’s quite possible that these numbers confirm general, high-level interest and curiosity about top Web properties — their history, policies, background, etc," Wikipedia spokesperson Jay Walsh told AllThingsD.
Click here or scroll through the gallery below to see the most popular English-language entries. Then, have a gander at the top trending videos on YouTube in 2012, the top trending topics on Google, the most popular Spotify tracks of the year, Twitter's most retweeted tweets and the biggest events on Facebook.