Why I edit Wikipedia

I had my Wikipedia account for six years before I made my first edit.

The thing that inspired me to action was an email. My partner’s aunt forwarded information about an edit-a-thon for Ada Lovelace Day. I was intrigued, and soon found myself eyeballs-deep in tabs of articles about editing Wikipedia.

Wikipedia grows up

When I created my account, Wikipedia was a source of information that was nerdy-cool, but definitely not considered reliable. By the time I received that email from our aunt, Wikipedia had become omnipresent.

Although the folks I know still give verbal disclaimers when repeating something they learned on Wikipedia, if there is a Wikipedia article in their Google search results, they will read it.

And so do I

In those six years, my perspective has changed, too. The world isn’t quite how I’d been told it would be. Not only does the world not embrace people like me the way I was told it would, but it it is even more harsh on people who have less than I do.

You know what, world? That sucks. And I want it to change.

Quietly improving the world’s awareness of itself

Wikipedia is a free, open place for information. Anyone with access to the Internet can become an editor.

Right now, Wikipedia’s coverage is skewed toward the interests of the people who tend to have the free time and energy to improve it. As of January 14, 2016, there are about 30,000 articles in WikiProject Fictional characters, and there are only about 4,800 articles in Wikiproject Human rights.

Here’s the good news: Each of us has the power to improve the parts of Wikipedia that matter to us. We only need to follow the guidelines of what is notable and verifiable.

I am a Wikipedian

A year and a couple months ago, I co-hosted my first edit-a-thon. We had great support from Wikimedia DC, a local chapter of people who work on Wikipedia and related projects. Since then, I have organized two more edit-a-thons, attended a couple others, made hundreds of edits, and even received recognition for my work.

People in the Wikipedia world can be terrible. And they can be welcoming and wonderful.

And so are you

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in editing Wikipedia.

At this point, though, I imagine you might feel the way I did eight years ago. I didn’t feel like I was an expert in anything, and I didn’t particularly want to be a guardian of grammar. How could I improve Wikipedia?

The good news is this: I’ve been discovering all kinds of ways to improve Wikipedia, and I expect I’ll write about some of my favorites. All you’ll need is your curiosity and the Internet.

In the meantime, I invite you to create your Wikipedia account today. With an account, you’re only bytes away from your first edit.

If you do boldly forge on ahead and happen upon some questions, remember that I’m just a tweet away.

Happy 15th Birthday, Wikipedia.

About the author

Veronica Erb designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. She plays ukulele, dances Balboa, and edits Wikipedia. She grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.

Say hey to Veronica on Twitter at @verbistheword.