This question already has an answer here:

Exactly what is on the tin. Would offline wikipedia (such as phone with kiwix or wikireader) with means to charge it (portable solar charger) be enough for young person to conquer country and eventually (known) world?


marked as duplicate by RonJohn, Raditz_35, user535733, Mołot, Ryan_L Nov 11 '18 at 23:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Since there's no smallpox vaccine in Wikipedia, there's a 30% chance you'll be dead two weeks after dropping into Eurasia. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Nov 11 '18 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ Hope you have accepted Jesus as your personal lord and savior ...... n7.alamy.com/zooms/a39dbadae7294e2f84047376dc06bd84/… $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 11 '18 at 22:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ On another note: Why isn't wikipedia enough to conquer the world today? The middle ages are a period we know surprisingly little about. You might not realize it, but not that much survived from back then. There is very little accurate information to find on wikipedia even to learn how to make a living in that time, forget about counquering the world. Given that even though wikipedia is available to billions and nobody is able to conquer the world today, I wonder why you think that it would be enough if you make it less useful. Please explain why you think it might be possible back then? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Nov 11 '18 at 23:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 Brilliant! You spotted the major flaw in the question. If you could use Wikipedia today to conquer the world, then you could use Wikipedia to conquer the past. They're both effectively impossible, so forget it. Although, perhaps, an empirically minded person might attempt world conquest with Wikipedia to test the concept. Like Mythbusters for potential world conquerors. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 12 '18 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ become apprentice to a smith or other craftsman, make better weapons, get attention of local lord, become their weaponsmith, get attention of higher lord, and so on. $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Nov 12 '18 at 20:01

No. Wikipedia is "not an instruction manual".

Wikipedia can provide hints about things that are possible, but it is not intended to show how to do them.

Ordinary encyclopedias hire experts to write articles based on their expert knowledge; wikipedia avoids primary sources. Instead, wikipedia prefers to have content that is summarized from newspaper articles and secondary sources.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Agreed wikipedia does not include instructions for how to do the things described, the wikipedia article on smelting won't tell you how to build or use a smelter. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 11 '18 at 23:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To make a point in favor of this answer: Wiki doesn't show you how to make an electronic fabrication facility, so all electronic based solutions are out. Doesn't explain how to make anything but the most primitive foundry, so all modern metallurgy is out. The unfathomable mountain of info you need to, for example, build a modern machine gun is not represented in Wiki at all. I don't think you can learn how to even hypnotize people. Cheers for pointing out the reality. (Now, Youtube on the other hand...) $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 11 '18 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ it's still easier to build something that you have described than when you have zero description and only operate from memory of your high school, no? $\endgroup$ – Enerccio Nov 12 '18 at 7:01

Knowledge is Indeed Power, but Power Is Power:

Power is Power via Circe Lanister

Just because you have extreme knowledge at your hands does not mean you can conquer the world. Control of resources and the ability to move people to your will are other critical aspects of power/influence. In aiming for the top you undoubtedly incur the wrath, jealousy, envy of others aiming for the top. Without the experience and skills needed to deal with people like that you can find yourself dead in a ditch with your phone smashed on a rock.

  • $\begingroup$ Anyone know how to embed a video in SE? $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 11 '18 at 22:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So true. Good to see someone pinpointing the major flaw in the assumption that future knowledge equals effective power in the past. Basically, it doesn't & never will. A time traveller who wants to conquer the past will need massive preparation, considerable logistics support & bringing their own modern weapons equipped army. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 12 '18 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android its not impossible because knowledge would be a hell of an advantage but there's a sort of managerial/ diplomatic tact , patience if you will that would be required to cultivate the people you need to aid in your conquest of the medieval world. The ability to parallelize educated decision making is a critical key of society (which is effectively what one is trying to do when conquering the world). $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 12 '18 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ Knowledge may be an advantage, but not enough of one for world conquest. A power base is needed to do that. Vide the last sentence of my previous comment. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 12 '18 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android right, but if you play your cards right you can build that power base and knowledge can help you do that. But as we both understand it takes a little more than knowledge alone to do that. $\endgroup$ – anon Nov 12 '18 at 12:31

If the only resources your time traveller has at hand is the basic knowledge available on Wikipedia, it is unlikely that they'll be able to make much use of it, and even less likely that the local people of the middle ages will be convinced by it.

Without specialist knowledge into the applications of technologies described in wikipedia, and without the necessary manufacturing capabilities or related tools, the time traveller is not going to be able to adequately reproduce them, and in many parts of the world (Europe in particular) if they are discovered trying they risk being branded a heretic or a witch and killed.

In the middle ages, nobility and martial prestige were vastly more important than knowledge in most cases, and the knowledge that your time traveller carries with them is more likely to get them killed than assist them.


The appropriate type of personality, leadership skills and determination are what makes a great leader. Let's assume the young person has all of those in abundance. In that case possibly yes.

However it would not be technology that would help - it could take hundreds of years to build the necessary infrastructure to make modern technology.

What would help is an accurate knowledge of geography, what peoples lived where and what they believed. In addition knowledge of battle strategies that worked would be vital.

Best of all is the history of how large empires have been formed throughout history.

  • $\begingroup$ Thats of course, assuming the local lord or king doesn't throw you into prison for trying to overthrow them. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Nov 11 '18 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ That's where personal qualities come in. You don't start by trying to assassinate someone. You have have to work your way up to a position of power. Join the army and get promoted - get the king to trust you. Once you are in charge of the king's army, you can depose him. Military coups have happened throughout history. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 11 '18 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ It's not just personality. The greatest personality is no use if you can't speak the language. You can't lead if you can't talk to anybody. Wikipedia doesn't teach you whatever language the person would face. While I don't disagree, I think this is like problem #231 on the list of things to solve in a story (I already commented on how this question is not about world building below the OP). I like the technology argument of course, you can't build a bomb if you don't have the chemicals, no wikipedia article can safe you. The battle strategies, well, please explain that one, I'm curious $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Nov 11 '18 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ you could also check for significant events happening (like assassinations of kings) and try to prevent them, making the assassination target likely to trust you and promote you $\endgroup$ – Enerccio Nov 12 '18 at 6:57

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.