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This article was published on August 17, 2012

Did you know about this little Wikipedia trick? Swap “en” with “simple” in the URL

Did you know about this little Wikipedia trick? Swap “en” with “simple” in the URL
Paul Sawers
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Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Like it or not, Wikipedia has evolved into a major go-to destination for those in search of knowledge. Whether it’s to swot up on the films of Laurel & Hardy, or discover what E=MC2really means, Wikipedia has you covered on most fronts.

But what about topics that go way over your head? Or what if they simply go into too much depth, or assume a little too much prior knowledge for your liking? That’s where Simple English Wikipedia comes in.

You’ve probably encountered this simplified version before, as it has been around since 2003. Using fewer words and adopting easier grammar, Simple Wikipedia articles are typically aimed at those learning English, children or other students. But it’s actually a very good way of getting to grips with complex subjects – for people of all educational backgrounds.

While it must be acknowledged that there aren’t nearly as many ‘Simple’ versions of Wikipedia articles available as there could be – there’s less than 90,000 at the time of writing – it’s worth noting that a large chunk of Wikipedia articles won’t need to be simplified.

An easy way of switching from the standard English entry to the simplified one is to swap the ‘.en’ prefix to ‘simple’ in the URL.

For example, the Quantum Mechanics article is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics.

Even the opening line is likely to lose people:

“Quantum mechanics (QM – also known as quantum physics, or quantum theory) is a branch of physics dealing with physical phenomena where the action is on the order of the Planck constant.”

However, by switching the URL prefix to ‘simple’ (http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics) instead, you’ll see a much more palatable version, which kicks off with:

“To learn Quantum mechanics (QM) is to learn about matter and energy. The main things to learn are subatomic particles (things smaller than atoms) and electromagnetic waves (waves that are made of electric and magnetic parts).”

Granted, this little trick may already be part of your online reading repertoire, but if this has passed you by, it’s a neat way to get your head around subjects you may otherwise have felt intimidated by.

Wikipedia [Standard] | Wikipedia [Simple]

Feature Image Credit: Arkangel | Flickr