As a culture, we are fascinated by celebrities, death, and the death of celebrities. I'm sure you already knew that, but some interesting new stats from the world of Wikipedia prove it.
Wikipedia user West.andrew.g has been looking at the popularity trends of Wikipedia articles over the past few years and has just published those findings in The Signpost, Wikipedia's community newspaper. He breaks "popular" articles into two categories: isolated popularity and consistent popularity. The latter are articles that simply receive the most traffic, at all times. The top articles on this list include Facebook, United States, YouTube, Google, Sex, Justin Bieber - no big surprises there.
But it's the isolated popularity of certain Wikipedia articles that's truly interesting.
If you want your Wikipedia article to experience a surge in traffic, you have to die or play at the Super Bowl.
Five of the top eight biggest spikes (measured in an influx of traffic in a one-hour period) occured due to celebrity deaths - Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs, Osama bin Laden, and Ryan Dunn. Two of the spikes were for Super Bowl halftime shows - Madonna and The Who.
Whitney Houston's Wikipedia page saw 425.6 views per second during an hour-long period on February 12th, 2012.
Other than deaths and the Super Bowl, other things that can drive traffic spikes to Wikipedia articles are being featured as the subject of a Google Doodle, being a TV show with a concerted "second-screen" effort, and being linked to on a site like reddit (Today I learned...).[The Signpost via The Verge]