How to listen to Wikipedia: top 3 text-to-speech tools

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Accessibility on June 27, 2022
Wikipedia is a powerful resource for learning new information on a variety of topics. Paired with text-to-speech, learn how you can get the most out of the tool.

    There are lots of people who love to use Wikipedia to learn new information. Articles can get Wikipedia edits from time to time, and they can learn in real-time. While the visualization is impressive, some articles can be long. You might have a hard time getting through some articles, such as those involving Stephen LaPorte or Mahmoud Hashemi.

    What if you could listen to your favorite Wikipedia page? We’ll cover all that and more in this guide. But first, let’s talk about Wikipedia and how it works and then how to listen to Wikipedia using different tools.

    What is Wikipedia?

    Wikipedia, often referred to as the “encyclopedia of the people,” is a vast, multilingual, web-based encyclopedia that is freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

    Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia has grown exponentially over the years, becoming one of the most visited websites in the world. Its name is a portmanteau of the words “wiki,” a type of collaborative website, and “encyclopedia.”

    At its core, Wikipedia is a collaborative platform. Unlike traditional encyclopedias that are written and edited by a select group of experts, Wikipedia allows anyone, regardless of their background or expertise, to edit its articles and make additions or subtractions.

    This open-editing model is based on the belief that collective knowledge from a diverse group of contributors can produce content that is comprehensive, up-to-date, and representative of a wide range of perspectives.

    One of the most remarkable aspects of Wikipedia is its commitment to neutrality. Articles are expected to be written in a neutral point of view, meaning that they should fairly represent all significant viewpoints on a topic, without taking sides.

    This neutrality is maintained through a rigorous system of community oversight, where experienced editors, known as “Wikipedians,” monitor changes and ensure that content adheres to Wikipedia’s guidelines.

    The vastness of Wikipedia’s content is truly astounding. It covers topics ranging from history, science, and art to pop culture, current events, and obscure facts. As of January 2023, Wikipedia boasted over 6 million articles in English alone, with millions more in other languages.

    This extensive coverage is made possible by the tireless efforts of its volunteer contributors, who add around 1.9 edits per second globally.

    Furthermore, Wikipedia’s commitment to free knowledge is evident in its licensing. All content on Wikipedia is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, which allows anyone to use, modify, and distribute the content as long as they attribute Wikipedia and share any derivative works under the same license.

    This open licensing model has enabled Wikipedia’s content to be used in countless ways, from educational materials to research projects, ensuring that knowledge is not just accessible but also reusable.

    Have you ever wanted to listen to Wikipedia?

    If you want to make Wikipedia articles more accessible, consider listening to them. You can review recent changes and use tools such as Github or Bitlisten to broaden your horizons. There are some open source programs that can even put ambient music in the background as you read about topics, such as Bitcoin.

    Some of the top reasons why you might want to listen to your articles include:

    • You can read an article on the go.
    • You can listen to content from a new user while you drive or cook dinner.
    • You can increase the reading speed. This helps you read more articles from this free encyclopedia.
    • If you have trouble reading, a text-to-speech tool can help you. With Speechify, you can take advantage of the sound of Wikipedia. This is great for people with learning and visual disabilities.

    This is a great way to learn more about all topics, including the Wikimedia foundation. People like Brian Eno and Maximillian Laumeister have played an important role. If you really want to take advantage of everything Wikipedia has to offer, use a speech tool. You can read more articles, faster.

    Listen to Wikipedia with a TTS tool

    Thanks to automated bots, there are larger edits taking place on English Wikipedia. This can make it harder to get through all of the information on Wiki. That is where TTS tools can be helpful. 

    How do TTS tools work? These are tools that can take the text on the screen and convert it into spoken speech. That way, instead of having to read it, you can listen to it. There are some tools that allow you to customize the voice you hear. You can change the reading speed, alter the accent, and even translate certain articles. It makes the information on Wikipedia more accessible to you.

    Speech to text tools

    There are several tools available that can help you convert text into speech. They include:

    • This is a program that is easy to work with. It is fast, reliable, and comes with lots of options. But, it is expensive. If you want the best features, you will need to spend a lot of money to get them.
    • TTS Tool: This is a completely free tool. You simply need to navigate to the website, paste the text into the box, and hit play. The downside is that the voices are very robotic.
    • Speechify: This is one of the most popular TTS programs on the market today. You can customize the voice to meet your needs, change the reading speed, and even translate articles from one language to another. It is also very easy to learn and extremely cost-effective.

    Our recommendation: Speechify

    If you are looking for the best program to create a playlist of your favorite Wikipedia articles, you should go with Speechify. While some people enjoy, Speechify is simply better. You can control the reading speed, change every aspect of the voice, and even make your favorite articles sound like you are listening to one of your favorite podcasts.

    There is a free version available, but you also have access to a free trial of the premium version. If you want to listen to your favorite articles, put Speechify to work for you. 


    How does the size of the edit affect what I hear when I listen to Wikipedia?

    When you listen to Wikipedia, the size of the edit plays a significant role in the auditory experience. Larger edits typically produce deeper, more prolonged sounds, while smaller edits might result in shorter, higher-pitched tones. This auditory representation allows users to gauge the magnitude of changes being made in real-time.

    I noticed green circles and purple circles while listening to Wikipedia. What do they signify?

    The green circles and purple circles you observe represent different types of edits. Green circles usually indicate edits made by unregistered users, giving you a sense of contributions from the broader community. On the other hand, purple circles often denote edits made by registered members. By distinguishing between these, listeners can get a feel for the diversity of contributors updating Wikipedia at any given moment.

    Is there a way to have Wikipedia read out the actual content of the edits instead of just representing them with sounds?

    While the primary function of “listening to Wikipedia” is to provide an auditory representation of edits through sounds, if you’re interested in having Wikipedia read the actual content, you might want to explore third-party tools or browser extensions. These tools can convert text to speech, allowing you to have Wikipedia read the specifics of the edits or any other content you’re interested in.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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    "Speechify lets me listen to Goop blog posts out loud in the car and gets my friends through grad school. It's amazing for scripts."
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