Wikipedia—a bastion of free knowledge for anyone with a Wi-fi connection—is, in the words of Annie Rauwerda, “one of the best things to come from the Internet.” As the creator of the Instagram account @DepthsofWikipedia, Rauwerda trawls the depths of the site, proffering its most perplexing (read: "Water Pie"), and its most chuckle-worthy (read: "Sexually active popes") entries for the viewing pleasure of her 1.1 million followers. The account—like so many Internet oddities—started as a pandemic passion project, when Rauwerda, a Wiki-editor herself, became entranced by a particularly empowering image caption on Wikipedia's cow tipping article. Today, @DepthsofWikipedia counts the likes of Neil Gaiman, Troye Sivan, and Olivia Wilde among its followers (a more comprehensive list can be found, of course, on Rauwerda’s Wikipedia page). Here, the information enthusiast shares her thoughts on Wikipedia vandalism, 6,000-year-old bar jokes, and the joys of Instagram stalking Callista Gingrich.
CULTURED: What do you post?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I post funny things from Wikipedia on social media.
CULTURED: What’s the latest Internet rabbit hole you’ve fallen into?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Where those spinning sandwiches on the internet archive originated. There are hundreds of gifs of spinning food on the Internet Archive. People have made websites, videos, fan content about them. But I’m not sure who made them in the first place and why they did.
CULTURED: What were your last three google searches?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Let’s see.
CULTURED: How did your love affair with Wikipedia begin?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I started using it as a kid and then started editing more during the pandemic. That was when I started posting screenshots on Instagram.
CULTURED: What kinds of pages were you editing initially?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I used to only edit things I knew really well, like the ones about my hometown. Now I edit all sorts of random things. You don’t have to be an expert to edit Wikipedia—you just have to be able to synthesize sources and follow a bunch of rules.
CULTURED: What makes it rewarding to you?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: It’s just so cool to learn about things while you simultaneously contribute to the biggest, most accessible source of info that has ever existed. Makes you feel powerful to create things that get tons and tons of pageviews…
CULTURED: Do you make the occasional cheeky edit?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: No! I never vandalize! I rub up against the boundaries of what is too funny for an encyclopedia, but I never knowingly add misinformation or distracting content. I’m pretty staunchly against Wikipedia vandalism...Wikipedia’s one of the best things to come from the Internet. Let us have this one good thing!!
CULTURED: What’s your editor handle?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I try to keep my on-wiki and my off-wiki identity separate. Most editors do, I think.
CULTURED: What’s the first page you found that blew your mind/made you laugh out loud?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Cow tipping.
CULTURED: Why did this caption get to you?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: We can all rise whenever we choose.
CULTURED: What is your favorite fact from your Wikipedia travels to whip out at parties?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Hmm. Probably this Sumerian dog joke from 4500 BC:
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Also that the “p” in pH doesn’t stand for anything.
CULTURED: What kinds of DMs does @depthsofwikipedia receive?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I get about a hundred DMs every day and I read every one of them. Tons of meanies and geniuses!
CULTURED: Who do you stalk?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Callista Gingrich (wife of Newt) on Instagram.
CULTURED: Who do you block?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: I almost never block anyone…I don’t really mind weird messages.
CULTURED: What are three accounts everyone should follow?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: @pablo.rochat on Instagram, @danhentschel on TikTok, and @weird medieval guys on Twitter. My friend Olivia runs that one.
CULTURED: Favorite conspiracy theory?
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: That’s hard. I tend to be very rational, and I’ve never felt compelled by any full-on conspiracy theories. I’ll say Birds Aren’t Real, since my roommate runs it.
CULTURED: What a house. You two are on opposite sides of the information war.
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Lol I know…
CULTURED: Describe your followers in three words.
DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA: Male, grad school, sweet.