Most read pages on Wikipedia 2014
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was not among the most read items on the online encyclopaedia he founded in 2014, but there were a lot of rather strange entries on the list IBTimes UK

Wikipedia is the world's largest online encyclopaedia and as such features an almost bewildering array of pages which currently totals over 4.6 million on the English site alone - and is growing by 800 every single day.

But what exactly do people use Wikipedia to search for? Well now we know, thanks to research from website Quartz. They analysed English-language Wikipedia data from 2014 to find out which was the most popular article on the site for every single day of the year.

Beginning with the page relating to pop star Cher on 1 January and ending with the article on obscure mathematical term Fenyman Point on New Year's Eve, the list of most popular pages shows that while some of the topics people look up are linked to major news events and anniversaries, others seem completely random with no easy link to what's happening in the real world.

For example, just why the world was obsessed with Cher on the first day of 2014 is unclear, but her Wikipedia page logged almost 1.1 million hits as the new year began.

The page which got the most views in a single day during 2014 was that of Robin Williams on 12 August - the day after the actor took his own life - with more than 5.1 million hits.

Celebrity death is one of the main drivers of traffic to Wikipedia pages, with the pages relating to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Shirley Temple and Pete Seeger also being among the most read articles on Wikipedia at certain points during 2014.

From drag queens to St. Patrick's Day

Major news events and trends like the ice bucket challenge, the 2014 Fifa World Cup, Eurovision winning drag queen Conchita Wurst, and the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 all driving traffic to their related Wikipedia pages.

Conchita Wurst
Eurovision song contest winner Conchita Wurst was the most visited Wikipedia page on 9 May and 13 May AFP / Getty Images

Particular pages are clearly more searched at particular times of the year. For example the Wikipedia page for St. Patrick's Day topped the site on 17 March, while the Online Shopping page was the most popular page for a whole week at the beginning of November as people began their Christmas shopping.

However the time of the year doesn't necessarily mean people will be searching for associated information. For example, on Christmas Day when you might expect the pages associated with Santa Claus, Christmas itself or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer to top the charts, it was in fact the page belonging to FSArchiver - a disk cloning utility for Linux - that was most popular.

Indeed the list highlights that tech-related Wikipedia pages were among the most popular during 2014, with malware appearing on the list on 30 separate dates, while the page for the term Ethernet Frame appears 12 times.

Java, Unix and the Heartbleed bug also appear among the list of Wikipedia's most popular pages of 2014 - though Quartz researchers suggest some of these could be as a result of software engineers writing scripts that visit these sites automatically, racking up tens of thousands of hits.

The list also shows how a Google Doodle celebrating a particular topic or person can drive traffic to Wikipedia, which is the reason both Sarojini Naidu and Dian Fossey appear on the list for 2014.

Power nap and Playboy Bunnies

However, it is the more esoteric and random pages which show the real diversity and range of Wikipedia - as well as the vagaries of the online community.

Why, for example, was the term alliteration the most visited page on Wikipedia for seven consecutive days at the end of July and beginning of August?

Why was the page for the Subaru Justy - a car last made in 1994 - the most visited article for four consecutive days in July?

On 20 February, the page for Power Nap was the most visited article, while the next day the internet moved its attention to Playboy Bunnies.

Have you ever wanted to know more about the flag of the tiny member of the Marshall Islands called Bikini Atoll? Me neither, but on 11 March, 320,000 people made it the most visited page on Wikipedia.