Archives for posts with tag: Stockholm

I haven’t posted here for a while because I was on a long and slightly gruelling trip, timed to coincide with Wikimedia’s 2010 fundraiser. (Which has just successfully concluded with more than a half million people contributing a total of USD 16 million, exceeding our goal in our shortest annual campaign to date: you can read more about it on the Wikimedia Foundation blog. My thanks to everyone who donated / helped with the campaign, and congratulations to Zack and the fundraising team!)

The gist of the trip: Between November 20 and December 6, I was in Stockholm, London, Dubai and Delhi. I spoke at three conferences, was interviewed by 16 journalists, and met about 50 Wikimedians as well as a few supporters and friends at cultural institutions, and I interviewed candidates for the Wikimedia Program Director for India. Afterwards I went on three weeks of holiday in India, including a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in Karnal, north of Delhi. The trip had multiple overlapping goals — to advance awareness of Wikipedia (particularly during our fundraising season) and encourage people to try editing, as well as to support chapters and find out a little more about the challenges and opportunities faced by editors in the Middle East. On the whole, the trip was successful and we’ll probably aim to do similar ones in future, building on lessons learned this time. I’ll blog more about it here as I get my notes organized.

Now, I’m back in San Francisco, and catching up on the 650-ish e-mails that accumulated (and didn’t get responded to) while I was away. Happy 2011 :-)

As ED of the Wikimedia Foundation, I get to meet Wikimedians all over the world. It didn’t take me long to see the commonalities among them – after only about six months, I believed –probably mostly wrongly– that I could pick out Wikimedians in airports and coffeeshops. I find the commonalities among Wikimedians fascinating, and also the recurring patterns I see in different Wikimedia communities. One such pattern is the very young editor.

The average Wikipedian is in his or her mid-twenties. Lots are teenagers, particularly editors who function in “wikignome” roles. But every now and I then I run across someone who started editing at an unusually young age – for example, there’s a Korean editor who started at seven, and an Israeli who started at eight.

A few days ago at the Wikipedia Academy in Stockholm, I met another: User:Calandrella [1], who started editing Wikipedia at the age of 10. He’s now 15. He told me that when he began, the thing he liked most about Wikipedia was that it took him seriously despite his age. He was able to make whatever contributions he was capable of, and they were judged on their merits.

Today, Calandrella’s made more than 10,000 edits. He’s been active on Wikipedia, Commons, Wikinews and Wiktionary, in Swedish, English, German, Norwegian and Spanish. He’s written about Pokemon, Harry Potter, anime, manga, computer games, and lots of other topics.

We know quite a bit about why people edit Wikipedia. They have an altruistic desire to share information with other people, they like learning new things themselves, and they are fussy types who are irritated by errors and feel compelled to fix them. We know that people like Calandrella appreciate that Wikipedia’s a meritocracy.

But I think there’s something else going on for the very young editors. It used to be that unusually smart kids were typically kind of isolated and lonely, until they met others as smart as them, either in university or later. I think that one of the unsung benefits of the internet, and Wikipedia in particular, is that it makes it possible for smart kids to connect with other people who are equally curious, who share their intellectual interests, and take them seriously, in a way that would’ve been completely unavailable to them 10 years earlier. I think that’s really good for them – it opens up the world for them and makes it possible for them to start making an intellectual contribution, much earlier than they would have been able to otherwise.

[1] Calandrella, Wikipedia tells me, is a genus of lark in the Alaudidae family. Swedish Wikipedians are very very proud of their coverage of birds: they say it’s better than that of the English Wikipedia :-)

I’m in Stockholm for the Swedish chapter’s third Wikipedia Academy, and I spent most of today with Swedish journalists.

I was talking with Robert Brännström, Editor-in-Chief of IDG Sweden, about the characteristics that distinguish people who edit Wikipedia from those who only read it. There are lots – I’d say that relative to the average person, Wikipedia editors are geekier, more curious, more introverted, they tend to be smarter, and are perhaps more inclined to be obsessive. But if I had to pick a single characteristic that’s common to all editors, I’d say it’s confidence. All Wikipedia editors share the belief that they know something worth sharing with others.

Robert immediately started laughing, and introduced me to the word wikipetter.  It’s derived from the Swedish word viktigpetter, which apparently means something like know-it-all, smarty-pants, smart-ass or “big head.” Wikipetter is apparently in fairly common use among Swedes — a quick search turned up quite a few definitions.

I hesitate to say this, because maybe Swedish Wikipedians consider the word wikipetter insulting. And probably they are tired of hearing about it, considering there have been no fewer than twelve lengthy debates about whether the Swedish Wikipedia should include an article about the Wiki Petter concept. (The outcome, I gather, is always no.) But nonetheless: I think it’s charming that the Swedish people have developed a special word for smarty-pants Wikipedians. If you know of other words like wikipetter, please tell me in the comments.

(By the way the title for this post was taken from a comment here, on this usability consultant’s blog. The Google translation made me laugh: it is “Long live Wikipettrar! (Is not a Wiki Petter self).”)

29 November 2010: I’ve just updated this post to correct the spelling of viktigpetter, which Lennart Guldbrandsson kindly informed me I’d gotten a bit wrong.