Steven Pruitt reminds me of an archetypal superhero: mild-mannered federal contractor for information management with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the mornings. WikiGnome — a wiki user who makes useful incremental edits without clamoring for attention — at night.
In short, in a world of reality show celebrities, I find him a breath of fresh air.
As a Washington Post article explains, this unlikely hero is responsible for no less than 2.5 million Wikipedia edits — almost half of its 5.7 million pages. This makes Pruitt the single most prolific contributor to the English version of the digital encyclopedia.
In the past 13 years, he has generated more than 31,000 original articles, conducting his research via books, newspapers, online sources and occasional field excursions. Want to know about the United States Lighthouse Society, the biblical figure of Omar, the composer Margaret Bonds, the Nsukka group of Nigerian artists, the communes of French Martinique? Pruitt — or Ser Amantio di Nicolao, the Wikipedia handle he took from a minor character in the Puccini opera “Gianni Schicchi” (naturally, he’s an opera lover) — has an entry for each.
Occasionally unemployed during the recession, he spent most of his waking hours working on Wiki. Sometimes he had trouble landing job interviews because prospective employers thought he worked on that other Wiki site run by Julian Assange. There’s no money in it, but the work itself, he says, “gives me a high.” Nowadays, he typically gives the encyclopedia three to four hours a day.
“You don’t get numbers like mine without being a bit obsessive,” he admits. “I probably edit a bit more when I should be cleaning my room.”
If you love Wikipedia as much as I do, I’m sure you’re as grateful as I am for his messy room!
Read the complete post on Washington Post.