A study of 2012’s most read Wikipedia articles reveals striking differences in what proved popular across the different language versions of the online encyclopaedia.
Facebook topped the English edition while an entry for adult video actresses did best in Japan.
Hua Shan – a Chinese mountain featuring “the world’s deadliest hiking trail” – topped the Dutch list.
By contrast, cul-de-sacs were the German site’s most clicked entry.
The data was published by a Swedish software engineer Johan Gunnarsson as part of the Wikitrends project. His home land’s most viewed article was a page dedicated to Sweden itself.
Sex and vampires
Lower entries on the lists also proved revealing.
While articles about Iran, its capital city Tehran and the country’s New Year celebrations topped the Persian list, entries about sex, female circumcision and homosexuality also made its top 10.
An overview of Egypt topped the Arabic language version and was followed by a history of Muhammad Ali Pasha – the Ottoman army commander who became the country’s ruler in 1805. He is viewed by many as the founder of the “modern” nation.
Sport featured prominently in the Indonesian edition with football, volleyball and basketball all coming within the top seven articles.
Italy appeared more obsessed with US television. Grey’s Anatomy came out on top, and Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries followed shortly after.
The Russian version was led by an article about the country followed by one about YouTube. But entries for “porn site” and “unemployment” may provide greater insight into local users’ lives.
Unusual results included the @ symbol making it into second place in the Spanish language edition, a type of Japanese holly topping the French list, and The European Regional Development Fund coming in third in Poland.
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber managed to make both the Danish and Norwegian top 10s, but was trumped by British boy band One Direction who appeared in the English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish and Danish lists.
Elsewhere, Facebook’s photo sharing service Instagram – which did not make any of Wikipedia’s top 10s – has published its own round-up of 2012.
The firm has focused on locations rather than themes.
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport came out on top with more than 100,000 photos taken there, followed by the city’s Siam Paragon shopping mall.
Thailand only recently held an auction to award 3G mobile network licences, and has instead focused on providing free wi-fi connectivity. It already has more than 200,000 hotspots and the government has announced a target of covering 80% of the country by May.
The Next Web tech blog suggests local habits had also aided Instagram’s local popularity.
“Many mobile internet users in the region didn’t spend much-time (or any time at all) using PCs, so their mobile or tablet is their single portal to the web and always-on web access is something new to them,” wrote Jon Russell.
The US took the next seven of the top 10 spots thanks to snaps taken at California’s Disneyland, New York’s Times Square; San Francisco’s AT&T Park; and Los Angeles’ International Airport, Dodger stadium, Staples Center and Santa Monica Pier.
Paris’s Eiffel Tower was the only European location to make the list.
English language most viewed
3. Deaths in 2012
4. One Direction
5. The Avengers
6. Fifty Shades of Grey
7. 2012 phenomenon
8. The Dark Knight Rises
10. The Hunger Games