Wikipedia Source Search

What is this?

A search engine customized to query just the original sources (that is, the external links or footnotes) cited by any given Wikipedia article.

Why use it?

To find good sources pronto. Suppose that you're looking for material on Mark Twain in Hartford. Wikipedia has screened a lot of sources; it would take a while to browse them all, but Wikipedia Source Search searches them quickly. For example, type "Hartford" into the search box here.

How do I use it?

  1. Bookmark this red link Wikipedia Source Search like so:
    • With Firefox, right-click on the red link and choose "Bookmark This Link", or drag the red link to your bookmarks panel or toolbar.
    • With Chrome or Safari, drag the red link to your bookmarks toolbar.
    • With IE8, right-click on the red link and choose "Add to Favorites".
    Don't surf to the red link and then bookmark it; that doesn't work. This step is needed only the first time that you use Wikipedia Source Search. A few browser configurations warn unaccountably about this step; technical details are below.
  2. Navigate to any Wikipedia article.
  3. From that page, select your new bookmark and enter your query in the resulting search box.

Technical details (optional)

The bookmark (more precisely, a bookmarklet) sends the Wikipedia title to a server, which creates on the fly a Google Custom Search Engine from the article's external links. My IE8 thought that the bookmarklet might be unsafe, but my Firefox, Safari, and Chrome were unperturbed. Mouse over the red link above and your status line shows that it's like typing http://cwf.appspot.com/cse/box/ at the front of a Wikipedia URL, which you can do without the bookmarklet, but it's more tedious.



Chris Fraser, 2009/05/12. Privacy policy.