Top tip: query wikipedia on a data budget

Posted by Katie McLaughlin on May 27, 2014

If you need to win an argument and you have a severely throttled internet connection, or you're on 3G, try this method:

  • Bring up an interface that will allow you to run dig (e.g. an ssh into a machine, or a sufficiently able terminal session on your mobile)
  • run dig +short txt [query]

You'll get the first ~400 characters of the wikipedia page in a DNS txt record, which should be sufficient to win the most basic word definition debates brought up on car trips.

Using the mobile wikipedia page can take several hundred kilobytes of data transfer but using this method I was able to ssh into my personal server and get the wiki information in a tenth of the time, and all for the low, low cost of 6 kilobytes.