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I made a program to test the hypothesis set out by today's xkcd, specifically that:
... if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at "Philosophy".

Most people who have tried this at this point know that there are some cycles and such, but it's fun to watch it go, and I'd like to start collecting statistics about how many loops and stuff. My friend made this prediction:
80% of all articles will have a finite number of hops, median number of hops (among those articles with a finite number) will be about 18, max (finite) number of hops will be about 200.

Here's a screenshot of it going:

If anyone wants to try it (and has a Windows computer or Mono installed on their Max/Linux computer) you can get it at:
It uses .net 2.0.
If you just run it straight it starts from a random page, if you give it a command line parameter it will use that url (it can be anything, even not from wikipedia, but that'll go bad really quickly).
There are some kinks, and so sometimes it just gives up what it's trying, but it does detect loops. It doesn't currently collect and stats other than the the number of hops. I'll improve that later.
Once it gets to philosophy or finds a loop, it waits until you hit a key and then grabs another random page and tries it again.
Considering the success of Tari's XKCD thing, I figured I might as well Digg this project, cool as it is. Check it and digg it:

Here's hoping my server doesn't crash!

Also, save yourself time, and build a graph. That way you can terminate searches when you reach a known chain.

Digg you say? I hadn't even logged into version 4 until today.
That's not saving me time, that's saving you time Wink
But that is planned, I just wanted to make something really quick.

Errors reported from facebook:
Something is wrong with the counter if it says "Giving up" and starts a new thing, I think the stuff before it gives up might also be counted as a step in the count for the next thing.
It also doesn't reset the name of the starting page correctly after it gives up, and it now counts correctly but still displays all of the pages from before it gives up when it lists the numbers at the end.

And to my knowledge these are fixed now, same place:
Huzzah! You guys should keep digging Shaun's project, or if you guys know how to make Reddit work, go for it. Wink
Necropost but this is from a discussion on #omnimaga.
The bot currently crashes and burns on Windows. Any reason for this?
Define "crashes and burns", by which I mean "error logs, please".
My guess is they've changed their html so the way I'm scraping the page doesn't work.
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