Which came first, founding Siemens or rebuilding the Palace of Westminster? And was Finland established as an independent state before or after Mexican film actress Dolores del Rio was born?
The answers are “Siemens” and “after”, respectively. These are things I learned today while playing WikiTrivia, a free browser game from Tom Watson that extracts historical dates from WikiData and challenges you to put them in the correct order.
Historical events are represented in the form of cards, telling you the subject (“Bosporan Kingdom”, “Russian Civil War”, “Nero Claudius Drusus”) and the type of date you are looking for (“Created”, “Ended”, “Born” ). You then drag the map onto a timeline, placing it between your previously placed events. If you are wrong, the card turns red; get it wrong three times and it’s game over.
Personally, I happen to agree with the basic order of human history. I can separate the numbers by centuries and put the civilizations in the correct order. This is partly because each card contains an image, and fashion, photography and print quality all offer clues.
The more cards you have on your timeline, the more specific decisions you will likely need to make. I know John Everett Millais’ Ophelia was painted in the 19th century (1851), but was it before or after the founding of Colgate (1873)? My best score so far is 13, which might be as far as guesswork and guesswork can take me.
It’s the kind of game where I don’t mind getting the wrong answers, anyway. Correct answers are revealed when you make a mistake, and clicking on placed cards will reveal a relevant Wikipedia link. I learn by playing. For example, did you know that Marisa Tomei is older than Martin Lawrence? Savage.
You can play WikiTrivia here. It’s open source and its developer is asking for feedback to help find the incorrect maps.