One of These Pages Is Sorta Like the Other

I don’t know if I would use this tool to find derivative content on Wikipedia, but it’s an interesting way to browse. Similpedia, at , allows you to enter a URL or a block of text and get Wikipedia entries that are similar to what you’ve entered. In the tests I ran, I didn’t get results that were so similar that there was lots of matching text, but I got results that were closely enough related that the searches led to interesting browsing.

So the Idaho Potato Commission Web site is . I did a search for that URL at Similpedia, and got a list of ten pages. The pages ranged from Almond Potato to Blackfoot, Idaho, to Potato Paradoxes, to Fauxtato. (Fauxtato?) Eight of the results were potato-oriented, with only two results Idaho-oriented (including the page for Idaho’s 2nd congressional district.)

I then took a search from a FAQ on the Web site, the following text:

“Potatoes should not be frozen from a raw state. They will turn black and the texture will be soft upon thawing. Potato dehydrators (who earlier had invented the instant mashed potato) struggled with any attempts to create a frozen French fry by cutting up the potatoes and attempting to freeze them. Frequently they would just turn to water and mush, similar to trying to freeze a fresh onion whole. The scientist that solved all this was Ray Dunlap, who worked for the J.R. Simplot company in Idaho. He discovered that by precooking or blanching the potatoes this stabilized them and made it possible to freeze them to be thawed later without breaking down the cellular structure. This happened in the late forties to early fifties. One of Simplots biggest customers later on was Mc Donald’s which made their fries fresh. As they grew, the labor time and the convenience of using a frozen fry outweighed this signature fry and they initially switched over to Simplot product exclusively. Now frozen fries are the most commonly used form of potatoes for consumer consumption. Potatoes are inexpensive, so either pre cook them and then freeze or toss when you have too many and they have started to have a skin that wrinkles or sprouts.”

… I ran that search on Similpedia. I got nine potato-oriented results, including cooking methods, brands, and that fauxtato thing again. But I also got odd result — the page for Hamburger Station.

The excerpt above is over 200 words, and worked well. However when I tried paragraphs of fewer words — 50 and 75 — I got much more inconsistent (almost useless) results. Blocks of at least a hundred words at a time are recommended.

An interesting browse option, especially if I don’t know a lot about a subject.

Categories: News