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Use WikiTweaks to avoid distractions on Wikipedia

Want to stay focused when reading about a topic on Wikipedia, but your curiosity is piqued by the links in the text? Check out this Chrome extension to stay on track.

Visiting Wikipedia to look up information on one topic generally means reading up on several others. The links within the text body are meant to be useful, but can sometimes turn into a huge time sink.

Web comic xkcd illustrates this situation perfectly in "The Problem with Wikipedia." Sometimes, it's just too tempting to click those links to learn about something else.

If you want to stay focused when you're checking out a specific topic, Lifehacker recommends using WikiTweaks for your Chrome browser. WikiTweaks adjusts the formatting of each entry on Wikipedia and adds pop-up summaries of those tempting links, keeping you on the right page.

To get started, install a copy of WikiTweaks for your Google Chrome browser.

A summary pops up for the link. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Head to a topic on Wikipedia. This example will work with panna cotta. As you can see, there are lots of links within the text to tell you about other topics such as: Italian, simmering and even gelatin. Just mouse over one of the links and a small summary will appear. This summary has been pulled from the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for that topic.

WikiTweaks button has a recent Wikipedia history. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Another difference you may notice is the formatting of the entire Wikipedia page. Now there is less space in the left and right margins, which makes more use of your screen real estate. Lastly, if you click the WikiTweaks button, you'll see a list of recently viewed Wikipedia entries.

This extension makes Wikipedia more user-friendly by helping you find out what a linked word refers to, without losing track of what you went to the site for in the first place.

Give it a try and leave your thoughts in the comments.