Dubious References

I don’t think of Twelve Mile Circle as a definitive source. I do my best to produce an acceptable level of accuracy. Admittedly, I’m not an authority on most geo-oddities even when I’ve been fortunate enough to visit them on the ground. It amuses me to find instances of Wikipedia citing 12MC as a footnoted reference, given my limitations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered. I hope I can live up to those expectations.

It’s not like I combed through Wikipedia on some kind of bizarre ego trip. I obsess over reader statistics pretty intensely, a personal quirk known well to longtime members of the Twelve Mile Circle audience. My interests stem from a geographic perspective mostly — the exotic places where 12MC visitors live and travel — and I also notice referral paths in the course of those examinations. This website receives a light and steady drip of visitors from Wikipedia, maybe one or two visitors a day, and each one leaves a digital fingerprint on my access logs. I satisfied my curiosity today by examining more than six years worth Wikipedia referrals captured by Google Analytics.

Shortest International Bridge

IMG40D_0811-1 by Sergio, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

I attempted to debunk the myth of the Shortest International Bridge allegedly extending between Zavikon and Little Zavikon Islands in the St. Lawrence River. It is not. Wikipedia cites my page several times, discussing Zavikon Island, the Thousand Islands, and even a Ukranian version on that theme.

That pleased me because this erroneous tale has self-perpetuated throughout the Intertubes. Go ahead and search on shortest international bridge if you like, and see what turns up. Essentially it’s the two Wikipedia pages trying to hold steady against a torrent of misinformation.

Oddly enough, I received several days of uncharacteristic visitor traffic from Hungary a few weeks ago. Hungarians even outnumbered readers from the United Kingdom for a brief moment. I found that rather disconcerting because 12MC has a very strong and loyal following in the UK. I traced the triggering event back to its source and discovered the reason. Notice the photograph of the supposed shortest bridge, above. Look closely and one will see a Canadian flag on the left, a US flag on the right, and a HUNGARIAN flag in the middle. This was featured by a Hungarian website. The site explained that the islands were purchased by a Hungarian-born Canadian, and of course repeated the false claim about the shortest bridge. A reader left a comment poking a hole in the claim and cited 12MC. I thought that was pretty cool.

Antipodes Islands

Antipodes Islands

Twelve Mile circle received a number of regular referrals from Wikipedia’s Antipodes Islands page(s) too. Visitors jump to the 12MC page of the same title. Interestingly Wikipedia cited Twelve Mile Circle not for the Antipodes Islands proper. Instead it referenced the antipode of the Antipodes Islands (the portion in bold):

The island group was originally called the "Penantipodes" meaning "next to the antipodes", because it lies near to the antipodes of London. Over time the name has been shortened to “Antipodes” leaving some to suppose its European discoverers had not realised its global location. This misapprehension persists. In fact, the island’s antipodes are situated on the territory of the French village Gatteville-le-Phare, near Cherbourg.

My minimal added value involved a two-second effort to drop latitude/longitude coordinates into an antipodes calculator and record the resulting value. Sure, I’ll take credit even though it was rather fleeting and insignificant. Why not?

Kenedy County, Texas

It took a little more effort to notify the world of Kenedy County, Texas being both the easternmost (which Wikipedia already noted) and southernmost county in the United States with more square miles than people. 12MC first recorded that odd fact and Wikipedia cited it. I don’t think the feat required any great knowledge of the world, simply the wherewithal to create a map…

County Densities Less Than One
US Counties with more square miles than people

… and proclaim, hey!, look at Kenedy County down there and over there all by itself. I challenged 12MC readers who were also Wikipedians to update their page and one of them kindly added the salient point.

Those were the primary three. 12MC also appeared as a reference on other pages generating less traffic as well as several foreign language Wikipedia pages such as German "Liste der Exklaven und Enklaven" (List of Exclaves and Enclaves); Estonian "Kiviplaatsild" (Clapper Bridges); Japanese "アンティポデス諸島" (Antipodes Islands). I also discovered Romanian and Hebrew Wikipedia pages. There may be others lurking out there too.

Nonetheless, 12MC references Wikipedia multiple orders of magnitude more often than Wikipedia references 12MC. As it should be.

5 Replies to “Dubious References”

  1. Small typo in your Japanese page title: the third character is a half-width TE (U+FF83); it should be a regular TE (U+30C6) instead.

  2. This (http://goo.gl/maps/6qZ15) golf cart bridge between ND and SK might be even shorter than the CZE/POL bridge. It’s tough to get a good handle on the sizes, especially the latter, because of the low-res imagery there.

  3. I can think of many bridges that connect 2 countries but is there a bridge that connects 3? The photo above seems to imply that the bit in the middle is in Hungry but is there any bridge where this is actually the case?

    1. The almost-aptly-named Three Countries Bridge comes tatalizingly close, spanning the Rhine between France and Germany only about 200 m from Switzerland.

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